SIMONE AND NATHAN LIESCHKE AND DAUGHTER ABIGAIL THRIVED DURING THEIR TIME AT AISG. AS THEY LEAVE FOR A NEW ADVENTURE IN SINGAPORE, THEY EXPLAIN HOW THEIR 11 YEARS HERE HELPED THE WHOLE FAMILY GROW.
“We didn’t know how lucky we were,” says Simone Lieschke, AISG’s Elementary School Director of Curriculum and PYP Coordinator. “When we interviewed for AISG, it was a school we hadn’t heard of, in this place we didn’t know about, and we were just drawn to the people. And when we got here, we were so blown away because we really had found a gem.”
Simone and her husband, Nathan, who is currently an Elementary School PE teacher, began their careers at AISG in 2008, teaching third and fourth grade respectively. When daughter Abigail came along in 2010, the couple were ready to make the move away from AISG. The school, however, wasn’t going to let them go easily.
“We actually had new jobs lined up in Vietnam,” says Simone. “But right at the last minute, the PE teacher here left, so Nathan took that position, and I took Nathan’s position as fourth-grade teacher.” It suited them both – Nathan could indulge his love of being outside in the fresh air, teaching kids of different ages, while Simone could build her knowledge of the school, a foundation she would call on in her Director role in later years.
A Supportive Atmosphere
The couple found the supportive atmosphere at AISG meant they were never bored. “The school is always growing and improving,” says Simone. “There were always opportunities to try new roles, and I think the school supporting us kept us energized and committed to staying and doing more.”
The connections they made with students were also an important part of their lives. “All the kids know us, and if they don’t know my name, they’ll say, ‘Hi Mr. Nathan’s wife’ or ‘Hi Abigail’s mum’. I love the fact that they all wanted to say hello, even if they weren’t quite sure of my name!” laughs Simone.
The decision to stay in China meant daughter Abigail has grown up thinking of the country as home. “It’s all she’s known,” says Simone. “She’ll say, Australia is my country, but China is my home. Being abroad, she’s just seen so much more than kids back home, and she has this worldview that they don’t have.”
Like her parents, Abigail thrived at AISG. “The inquiry-based program is a big benefit,” says Nathan. “She loves making and building and creating, that’s her kind of passion, so this curriculum works really well for her.” The program has also inspired Abigail to get involved in charity events, recently donating her hair to an organization that supports people with hair loss, including cancer survivors.
Simone and Nathan both advocate the merits of the IB program for all students. “It off ers so many opportunities that go beyond the academic, and students should take advantage of that,” says Simone. “They are the people that can make a difference, the kids we are teaching are the ones who are going to be the leaders of tomorrow. They need to make the most of all of the opportunities they get throughout the program so they can be those people when they leave.”
The family will shortly make the move to Singapore, which they are hoping will not be too much of a change – even if their new school is double the size of AISG. “I think because we’ve been here so long and really been with the school as it grows and been part of that, that gives us a great skills base wherever we go,” says Simone.
There’s no doubt the couple are looking forward to their next step. As Simone points out, “We are really excited about Singapore. It’s got the bits of China that we like. It feels very familiar, you drive on the left, there’s lots of Australian food, they speak English and Chinese, so we really get the best of both worlds. It’s a really good move. It’s all worked out.”
* Abigail donating hair to Connect4Cancer’s annual Hair4Hope event at the 2019 PTA International Day.