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Our Teachers’ Hidden Talents! - 1st Edition

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!

Proud winner German Brand Award 2020

The award for successful brand management

Initiated by Germany's design and brand authority and judged by a top-class panel of experts from brand management and brand science: The German Brand Award is the award for successful brand management in Germany. It discovers, presents and awards unique brands and brand makers - and not only promotes the winners, but also their respective industries.

A few months ago, the jury for the prestigious German Brand Awards invited us to enter our application in this year’s nominations. We took the decision to enter this international competition in the category for ‘Education’ not only because we are unendingly proud of the school itself, but also of the ‘St Gilgen International School’ brand and of the advertising presence that have achieved together with Zooom marketing agency in Fuschl am See.

What we could not foresee was that a small international school in Austria had a chance of winning the category first prize. On 18th June, we were officially informed that the independent jury had awarded St Gilgen International School first place in the ‘Education’ category for the German Brand Awards 2020! Statement of the jury: „The great care and expertise devoted to the finest details convey the ambitious values and merits of the private school in a credible fashion and reveal how these distinguish it from other schools. The result is an extremely clear profile that enables the positioning of StGIS as a credible brand.“

It is the first time that this award has been claimed by an Austrian educational establishment and it is particularly a mark of recognition for our marketing manager, Max Obauer, and for all those who support him in his work. It also represents a valuable confirmation of our ‘St Gilgen International School’ brand and our unshakeable belief; ‘Every child has talent, and StGIS will develop it!’ Few other schools have the opportunities that we have to discover and foster the individual talents of each student, be it in the academic arena, art, or in the many wonderful sporting activities which can be undertaken in the safe natural environment of the Salzkammergut.

Our German Brand Awards 2020 achievement will enable us to broaden our remit, spreading the message of the exceptionality of our school beyond our borders. We ask all of you to inspire your friends and acquaintances by endorsing just how special our school is.

Our Distance Learning Adventure

Our distance learning adventure began 3-weeks ago, we waved our students goodbye on a Friday afternoon, Wuhan-shaking each other at the gate. The whole community worked frantically in the days before our transition, getting our systems and curriculum in place, learning fast together; ready to truly embrace the fact that “learning takes place all the time, everywhere and for everybody; learning is complex and personal; learning is a journey”.

And what a journey it has been for StGIS students and staff already, highs and lows – challenges and celebrations. Our distance learning principles centred around a desire to ROCK; we asked our community to focus on Routines, get Outside where possible, to Communicate regularly and most importantly, be Kind to each other. We have discovered that curriculum delivery might change, but can continue, our staff and students have conducted Science experiments, filming and sharing the process, undertaken group work and performances in Drama, online discussions in English, and in-the-news research in World Studies; they love Kahoot quizzes, and enjoy the opportunity to keep fit through their Movement and Wellbeing daily exercise and keeping an active diary vlog of their efforts.

However, perhaps most importantly, we have also focused our energies on the many other, equally valuable yet less obvious aspects of school; our dedicated and caring Mentor Tutors have conducted face-to-face chats with their students on a daily basis, listening, guiding and supporting their learning and wellbeing. Our Head of Activities has motivated the community to try something new for 30-days; an instrument, language, cooking – whatever, provided it challenges and inspires. Our Digital Learning Coordinator has new ideas every week to connect with our students and staff across the globe, and he takes time to share his tips and tricks with the community. We continue to run assemblies, Science evenings, Spring concerts and more; in this way our commitment to excellence in care, education and activities remains as strong as ever.

What does this mean for our students? They get up each morning, but don’t have to wear uniform; their journey to school is a short walk to the computer rather than a long bus trip. They see their teachers and classmates on screen rather than face-to-face; but they still connect. Lessons start at normal times, students who can log-in, teachers introduce the topic and work with presentations, videos and live chat, students get the chance to ask questions. During the lesson, teachers respond to chat and video messages in Teams, review students work and give feedback as normal. After morning classes, our students check in with their Mentor Tutor, before taking a break. The rhythm continues; with up and down to lunch and some fresh air in between classes. After school, many will do some exercise, play music, draw, cook, meditate – anything to help keep positive and focused. Evenings maybe involve some homework, and some downtime with family; sleep comes quickly, and we do it all again. Is it easy; no, is it possible and are we ROCKing it – yes?

We are distant, yet still together and cannot wait to be back in St Gilgen as soon as possible; for now though, we remain committed to making the most of our distance learning adventure, and growing from the experience.

Class of 2019 Destinations - Update

Our graduates from the class of 2019 developed their passions with us and strengthened their strengths, and we are excited to see them continue this journey in a myriad of ways.

Class of 2019 Destinations Update

Following on from their stellar results in the IB Diploma Programme, we are pleased to announce that our students are continuing their lifelong pursuit of learning as they endeavour to contribute positively to our global society.  Our graduates from the class of 2019 developed their passions with us and strengthened their strengths, and we are excited to see them continue this journey in a myriad of ways.

18 Students of the class of 2019 start their University courses this coming month in countries such as the UK, Austria, USA, France, Spain, and Canada.  An additional 6 students have gone on to complete their civil service duties as required by their country, and 5 more graduates from 2019 have elected to take a gap year to gain experience in their chosen fields of interest.

University Destinations for our class of 2019 include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • UK: University College London (UCL), Westminster University, University of Sussex, London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London (UAL)
  • Austria: University of Vienna, University of Salzburg, Salzburg Mozarteum
  • US: Indiana University, Portland University
  • France: Le Cordon Bleu University, Paris
  • Spain: IE University
  • Canada: Ryerson University

We are very pleased with our graduates, and excited for their futures!