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  • Interview with Dipont Education Center Principal, John Sexton

    Tuesday 19 Sep 2023


    Interview with John Sexton

    John Sexton,

    Center Principal at Suzhou Experimental High School, AP center.

    How many teachers or staff do you manage in your center?

    That’s kind of an interesting question, just teachers, not including myself, we have six staff. These are teachers from different parts of the world, teaching science, math and humanities, and then we collaborate with several other Chinese staff that lead part of our program.

    Can you describe your involvement with teaching and learning within the center?

    Wow, that’s, that’s a question. I would say I spend a lot of my time helping teachers prepare students for the various things they need to do for college success. Whether that’s helping our English teacher get the students prepared for TOEFL or IELTS examinations or making sure our AP teachers are on track for their AP exams every May. That’s a large part of it. We conduct regular meetings on teaching and learning, in the past few years, online learning has been a focus. Fortunately for me, that was kind of my background, so I’ve helped teachers use technology and adapt to that. As we move back to the classrooms, it’s more of a focus on teaching and getting students ready for the exams and success.

    What is the number of exams that a typical student is taking this year?

    Well, there are no typical students, but in our grade 11 half the students are taking four AP exams, for example. Most plan to take economics, calculus, physics at AP this year. So about half of our students do that. And I would say about 75% of our students take at least one exam in grade 11. I think in grade 12, we have one student who did not take an AP exam, so most of our students are taking at least one. And that’s what we like to see. I think in the future, it’ll be everybody because they’re launching AP precalculus.

    Which universities do your students tend to go?

    This year has been another shift for our students back toward American placements, besides a few that have gone to Australia. Students in China like to cluster around the East and West coast of the US, though we’ve got a little progress inland as far as Ohio. Most of our students are in the Northeast or the Northwest this year, so Washington, New Jersey and those kind of areas.

    Can you describe the management structure that a CP operates within?

    Yeah, I think this will be a question that’s maybe different in different contexts. We’re a small school, so at my school, the administration, me, the CLO, the CD, work quite closely together. And we’re kind of all-hands-on deck on many things. But I think in a larger school, it would have a different shape. We get lots of support from Dipont, I deal directly with Leo McArdle, the Deputy Director of Education, he’s really helpful. We get lots of practical support from the head office, especially now that the pandemic is over.

    If you were to summarize your key objectives and the roll into a few points, what would they be?

    I think there’s really two things I want to do. I want to ensure that our students get the best possible education and university offers. I’m really concerned with whether they are making progress through the year at our center. I want them to develop their English ability, study skills and I want them to grow as people. I want to see them all making great strides every year. So that’s really my focus.