Our Teachers’ Hidden Talents!

Did you know my physics teacher is also an award winning writer?

Interview between Eva-Sofia Meindl (Communications Prefect on Student Leadership Team) and Hannah Phillips (Teacher of Physics AND award winning writer). Mrs Phillips has been at StGIS since 2017, and comes with her husband, Jake Lynn (our Interdisciplinary Unit Coordinator) and their daughter Elsie. Earlier this year she was awarded with Kindle Storyteller Award 2018 for her book 'The Afterlife of Walter Augustus'.

Interviewer: Science and the arts are usually seen as opposites. Do you agree? 
Ms Phillips: They’re not opposites! You couldn’t make new scientific discoveries without being creative, so no, I think they are interlinked. 

Interviewer: Is that why the two seem to harmonise in your life?  
Ms Phillips: Yes – I think they do in everyone’s. Anybody who is artistic is also scientific and methodical in the way they go about improving their own work. If you aren’t analysing and evaluating what you’re doing, which are the key ideas behind science, then how do you progress as an artist? I don’t think you can. It bothers me when people categorise themselves as either ‘scientific’ or ‘arty’ – you can be both.  

Interviewer: Is the process of writing similar to how you would approach a problem in physics?  
Ms Phillips: When I write, I plan before I start and then spend a long-time editing, or ‘evaluating’ it, when I’m finished. Both involve a lot research, so there are a lot of parallels you can draw between them. 

Interviewer: You received the Kindle Storyteller award, how does it feel now that more people seem to be aware of your writing? 
Ms Phillips: People aren’t really more aware so it’s fine. *laughter* The award is fantastic but fortunately, my books are still very unknown. I think when you do win something, you are judged much more harshly. 

Interviewer: What was the process of receiving the award like?   
Ms Phillips: It was a bit scary – I didn’t really know what was going to happen. The other competitors and I had to be interviewed by the press and we then we had our photos taken. I didn’t really think I was going to win because the others were full-time, professional writers and I’m a physics teacher. Winning was a bit of a surprise. 

Interviewer: When do you find the time to write? 
Ms Phillips: Every morning, from 5:30 to 6:30. I don’t really do ‘free time’ so writing is my main hobby. 

Interviewer: You wouldn’t make it your full-time job? 
Ms Phillips: Not at the minute. I did my degree in physics and music because it gave me balance. Having more than one aspect in your life means that you can always switch off from something that might be frustrating at one point. Having the ability to move between writing and school helps to keep me sane – I use that term loosely.   *laughter*

Interviewer: Has teaching and the variety of people it exposes you to influenced your writing? 
Ms Phillips: I see a story in everyone. If I were to see a random person with a dog, I would wonder where the dog came from and whether it’s always belonged to them since it doesn’t seem to like them very much and so on. 

Interviewer: What are you currently working on? 
Ms Phillips: Like I said, the stories come to me endlessly so I thought I would work on a young adult novel but I don’t like sticking to genres. That’s probably why I’m not massively successful writer. Most authors, especially those who self-publish, only write thrillers or only young adult, for example. That’s how they build a fan base, whereas I just like to write stories. If I have an idea, I’m not bothered about what genre it fits into or whether its marketable. I had an idea for a young adult novel but I also feel that Medusa was treated unfairly in Greek mythology. I think she deserves  a retelling. 

Interviewer: Are those the two things you’re focusing on at the moment?  
Ms Phillips: No, there are lots of things I’m working on. I have the second book in a series coming out in December and the third book of that series now needs to go into editing. Medusa is planned – mostly in my head – even though I’m only about 20 000 words into the first draft, but I also have another idea I want to do. I pretend that I will definitely commit to one project but secretly, I work on whatever I feel like. 

We wish Mrs Phillips all the best for her future of inspiring young scientists, and inspiring young readers!

"REFLECTIONS ON AN EDUCATION" by Thomas Zhang (class of 2017)

This school enabled and facilitated my growth and empowerment, resulting in the one and only "subjugation" that I conducted never to subjugate my individuality in an attempt to appeal to anyone.

Among tens of millions of high school students in my age, I was truly blessed to be part of this amazing school, which I found from 300+ IB boarding schools worldwide. This miraculous match brought a whole new world into my life--inspiring surroundings of mountains and lakes in Austria; small class size (4-10 students); 10 activities per week; international friends; self-discovery in arts, sports and communication; cultural, political and ideological clashes; pure pursuit of in life; individuality, confidence, even extravagance; appreciation and open-mindedness; dream and love...and of course, endless coffee shots in the school cafe and yogurts supplies to the houses. Every desired aspect of 21st century high school life school, StGIS provided me. Thank you, thank you!

Coming in the middle of G11 year, I prepared the readiness of adapting, or subjugating, to the established system. This school enabled and facilitated my growth and empowerment, resulting in the one and only "subjugation" that I conducted never to subjugate my individuality in an attempt to appeal to anyone. Whether it is the pressure from majority or authority, the social expectations or stereotypes, or simply the worthless judgements of haters, who have nothing in their brains and only gains sense of superiority by willfully engaging themselves in ridiculing others based on nothing. With so many caring people spreading positive energies and cheering me up each time I felt overwhelmed and doubted myself, StGIS empowered me, and surely will keep empowering every student, to achieve mental security and proudness by not putting others down, but by developing our own passion and talent, with numerous opportunities provided for self-discovery provided. Here, students learn to embrace themselves and appreciate each other in an amazing, meaningful, and constructive manner. Much as I appreciate and relish the opportunity to come, I will never forget all the ups and downs of the last 15 months, and I embrace my heritage and transformation. I will unrelentingly encourage other young boys and girls, with passion, love, and curiosity for the world, to embark on an unforgettable journey at StGIS. You are the composer of your life; be proactive, grasp opportunities, and have fun.

Farewell to high school, farewell to Europe.

Guodong (Thomas) Zhang, Class of 2017 Graduate Student

What is your StGIS story? Episode 1

Our stories are an authentic expression of our culture, our values and our mission.

Our stories are our living memories. They are an authentic expression of our culture, our values and our mission. Whilst an organisational mission statement can summarize an approach or an ideal, a story is the embodiment of this. The passing on of stories is one of the oldest and earliest forms of education. Narrated by those who experienced them, we will be publishing a series of videos to capture these stories and provide a unique insight into life at StGIS. 




Famous female director came to St Gilgen to give a talk on the strength of human intuition

– Exclusive lecture exploring the roles of intuition and creativity at St Gilgen International School

– Intuition and creativity as effective tools in the changing business world


Reflections on StGIS Inspiring People Volume 4 - Hrund Gunnsteindóttir

Author and film director Hrund Gunnsteinsdóttir inspired students, teachers and parents of St Gilgen International School with a captivating lecture entitled “The Power of Intuition and Creativity.” The 42 year old Icelander gained international success in 2016 with her remarkable cinema documentary “Innasei – the power of Intuition” which reached Austrian cinema screens.

To research and better understand the subject of Intuition, Hrund, together with her colleague Kristín Ólafsdóttir, travelled around the globe and carried out innumerable interviews.

65% of children currently at school will work in careers which do not yet exist.

“Intuition is a unique skill which only we humans possess. We analyse, we are taught to use logic, but we are therefore ‘taught’ to depress our trust in human intuition” Hrund thus regretfully describes the current development of modern society.

Through the fast progression of Digitalisation production – code word Industry 4.0 – Hrund sees fundamental changes in the working world. “65 percent of current school children will have jobs which do not yet exist” and this is of course why Hrund’s lecture was so appealing for the students of the St Gilgen private school. “In order to keep pace with the new challenges that the globalised world will throw at us, we need new manners of thinking. Intuition and creativity but also inspiration, mindfulness and empathy are all qualities and skills which should be prioritised in schooling and everyday life, not side-lined.”

The Icelandic film maker, author and entrepreneur Hrund Gunnsteinsdóttir spent many years working for the UN and in 2011 was singled-out by the World Economic Forum as a “Young Global Leader.”