Working at HFI has been a great experience. The location is great, right in the heart of Guangzhou, unlike so many international schools in China which are in very inconvenient places on the distant outskirts of cities. Guangzhou is a green city and the school and its environs live up to that reputation, with lovely gardens and a peaceful atmosphere. HFI is located inside the most reputable high school in South China and there is a real feeling of academic achievement around the place. The students here are very friendly, respectful and hard-working and show a genuine interest in the subjects taught. That's why most of the AP results are at the maximum score of 5. Displine problems are almost unheard of, it could easily be described as a teaching paradise. International schools in China generally don't enrol Chinese students, so if you want to teach high-achieving Chinese students, this is the place to be!
In my 3 years working at HFI I have had several good opportunities to help develop my teaching career. As well as attending workshops in relation to AP subjects, I have been able to make many positive contributions to the management of the school and to develop my curriculum experience. Unlike many western schools and other similar programs within China, there is a good degree of freedom to design and deliver the course in the most appropriate way for the students without unnecessary restraints imposed from above. Quality educators will feel a strong sense of professional reward from working with such great students in such a supportive and dynamic environment.
Guangzhou is also a great place to live. Although it has a bit of a reputation for being the industrial centre of China, the city and surroundings have many historical and cultural things to explore and these could keep you busy for years, not to mention all of the beautiful parks, gardens and other public spaces scattered throughout. It's really easy to get around, the transport system is amongst the best in the world with many underground metro lines and an extensive bus network. There is also a strong western presence and it is easy to find coffee shops, bars, restaurants of all types and bookshops. Hong Kong and Macau are only short trips away, as are many other Chinese cities worth exploring, not to mention the lovely countryside just a short drive from the centre of town. And of course the shopping is amazing, with huge markets for all sorts of products from imported food to clothes to electronics to costume jewelery, on a scale not seen anywhere else in the world. I can highly recommend working at HFI! Paul Perversi IFY Maths and AP Statistics Teacher
Imagine working in a school where the only standardized tests are the ones that students study for like their lives depend on it (because they do), where meetings occur only on an as-needed basis, where our future-oriented students really ‘get’ what they are supposed to be doing at school—obviating the need for School Improvement Plans, punitive Teacher Appraisal Systems, Response to Intervention, make-work Professional Learning Communities, disciplinary procedures, school restructurings, and all the other layers of bureaucratic distraction that many Western teachers say pulls their attention away from what they love to do. At HFI 95+% of my time and energy is devoted to lesson planning, marking and providing feedback on students’ work, and directly assisting students in and out of the classroom with their learning and their life goals.
I came here from an Illinois high school on a one-year leave-‘slash’-adventure that turned out to include finding a wife. When I became aware that it was possible to extend the leave to a second year, it was an obvious decision. Inevitably though, practical considerations require that I leave HFI at the end of these two years. I go back armed with new instructional strategies, renewed optimism about the educational endeavor and human nature in general, and a desire to return to the teaching environment of HFI when circumstances permit.
Steven Lauridsen AP Economics and AP US History Teacher
Working with the students at HFI is a once in a lifetime experience! The school is small, the relationships between students and teachers – collegial and warm, and the cultural make-up of the staff – fascinating! This is my second year at HFI and I am really enjoying the challenges that the AP curriculum and these kids bring me every day. As the students are so motivated to succeed, one does not have to waste much time thinking about classroom management issues or remedial work to set for those students who are not achieving the course objectives. You are encouraged to set the bar high and watch as the students gratefully impress you time and again. This is a lovely school to work for and despite some drawbacks of space limitation, your creativity has a venue to flourish here and your teaching skills will definitely improve. You will find that these kids deserve your best!
AP Language and Composition and English Teacher
After teaching for a few years in NYC Public Schools and then at international schools in Mexico, I felt a bit burned out, and decided that it was time to take a break from the field of education. So, I returned to NYC and took an office job. After a few years in the office, I realized that my place really is in the classroom, no matter how emotionally draining it can be. so, I searched around for schools in China and luckily was offered a job at HFI. The first week of school went great, as often is the case. So, suspiciously, I waited and waited for the honeymoon period to end; but it never did, and hasn’t a year and a half later. It truly is a joy to work with such highly-motivated, intelligent, hard-working, and genuinely interesting students. The atmosphere of the school is more closely related to that of a college campus than to a high school campus in that these students don’t have to be monitored at all times (they don’t need to be), which gives students the opportunity to be independent, and helps teachers to have time to focus on their real job, teaching. Indeed, this is the kind of job that could ruin a teacher’s classroom management skills for life—I haven’t had to raise my voice regarding behavior once with any of my students in the past two school years, and neither have I had to ask a student to do something more than once! The most enjoyable thing about working at HFI, however, is that these students will actually listen to what their teachers say, participate in class activities, and genuinely consider the class’ concepts—in other words, these students want to work hard, and they want their teachers to work hard. I have grown a lot as a teacher here, and look forward to being pushed to work harder and grow into a better professional. Needless to say, my faith in teaching has been restored by the students at this school.
Michael Crachiolo II
Head of the AP English Department, AP English Language and Composition Teacher
As I write this I think I must be crazy for leaving HFI after a fantastic year with staff and students and the adventure of a lifetime. In fact, I would not be going at all if not for the small matter of a husband at home who misses me and I him. It is with regret that I leave well-behaved, curious, motivated, and hardworking students, helpful, warm, friendly local teachers and administrative staff, congenial foreign colleagues, an unflappable, even-keeled, and supportive principal, and a fair and generous owner.
Living in China for a first-timer can be a bit challenging. There are many new customs and ways of living to adjust to in this country, this city, and even at this school. Having such a pleasant and warm atmosphere at work has helped me make the sometimes slightly uncomfortable adjustments much more easily than I would otherwise have done. Make no mistake, although we teach a regular AP curriculum, this is a Chinese school. Learning Chinese ways of doing things has been fun, frustrating, thrilling, hilarious, and ultimately very satisfying. I thank everyone here who has guided me through it all.
If you would like to practice the art of teaching in a stimulating and fun atmosphere, I recommend HFI to you unreservedly. I am very happy to have spent this time here. Melanie Sievers
AP English Teacher
May 4, 2015