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While great facilities are always a huge plus in educational settings, it remains a fact that the quality of faculty is still a deciding factor when choosing a school for one’s child.

In order to foster the quality of not only faculty but also learning, Shelly Luke Wille, with her background in Special Education and curriculum development, joined Chadwick International in Songdo, Incheon as the Principal of Village School in July 2011.

Recently, we visited Principal Luke Wille as she shared her experiences in living in Songdo and venturing into a new chapter of life in Korea with her husband and two sons.

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10 So, how have you and your family settled into Songdo and Korea?

Principal Luke Wille We’ve settled into Songdo very well as we’re very comfortable with our surroundings. So far, Korea has offered a secure living environment, which is an important consideration for us. For example, I love being able to ride my bike to work with my children! The streets are quite safe and the local residents have been so friendly. This experience in Korea is something that I strongly believe will benefit my family: having my children not only exposed to an entirely new culture, but immersed in it.

10 Obviously, you and your family moved to Korea for your new job. Could you explain your role at Chadwick International?

Principal Luke Wille Well, I believe that my job is essentially to help the students, parents and staff of our school. Each day looks different from the last. I spend my time in classrooms supporting students and teachers, having meetings with parents, and working with my colleagues to build the best all-around school program across all grades. I could be on recess duty, helping students bus their trays in the cafeteria, or meeting with students about school projects or ideas they have to better the school. With teachers, we talk at length about the best ways to approach learning in our classrooms. We meet regularly about curriculum, logistics and how to meet the needs of our students. I could be advising a teacher about how to support a particular student, observing and affirming the work in the classroom, finding great resources, helping with assessment, or my favorite, brainstorming learning activities.

We really see the partnership between the family and the school as the ultimate key to a child’s success. To that end, I frequently meet with parents about their children. Sometimes it’s in a very personal conversation where we work to support a family and sometimes it’s in a “grade level coffee” where parents and administrators sit together to talk about the developmental age of the class and how families and the school can work together to support the growth of each child.

10 Since working at Chadwick International, what have been some challenges and privileges that you’ve faced?

Principal Luke Wille I think I will offer an example of an incident that occurred the other day to answer this question. As I was chatting with some students during lunch time, one student came up to me with a somewhat serious injury. I ended up going with him to the hospital and sat with him as he was treated. I also witnessed his father coming to comfort him and calm him as he received his treatment. His dad was so sweet and unguarded in how he supported his son.

So to answer your question, my great privilege is that I am placed on a daily basis into situations where students, teacher and particularly parents trust me. Parents come to me unguarded, open to asking for help, getting support and sharing things that they might otherwise not even share with friends. They do this all because of their children. That is really the biggest challenge and biggest privilege of the work I do on a daily basis.

10 What motivates you to continue what you are doing at the school?

Principal Luke Wille Our job as a school and my job as a leader is to take the trust given by the parents and make good on it. This happens in hundreds of ways, such as knowing a child at their best and their worst and being in for the long haul; working with teachers to build a strong curriculum; helping parents know they are not alone on this incredibly difficult journey as they nurture their children and build their future; and thinking of the big picture while respecting the culture in Korea.

I come in every day with the knowledge that literally hundreds of parents are trusting us with the most precious thing in their lives: their children. Someone once told me that I have the weight of the world on my shoulders. I think she meant it as a criticism, but I can’t imagine doing this work without that sense of importance. This is the work of the future. And it is with this thought that I can make a difference in the lives of not only the students, but also the parents that motivate me.

10 What are some goals you’d like to accomplish prior to leaving Korea?

Principal Luke Wille Personally, I would like to see more of Korea, in particular some of the more rural areas. I would love to say learning to speak Korean is a goal, but I haven’t had much time to study the language. However, my kids seem to have picked it up much faster than I have and they’ve now started helping me understand conversations. It has been wonderful to observe. Already, I know that I have formed bonds and friendships that will last. My goal for my family is to provide my children with an opportunity to understand that the world is full of different types of people, perspectives and cultures. I want them to be truly global citizens.

Professionally, my goal is to support Chadwick School toward building the Songdo Chadwick International Campus into one of the best schools in the world. I feel that we are well on our way.


About Chadwick International School

Chadwick International is a PreK-12 non-denominational international school in the Songdo International Business District of Incheon, South Korea that emphasizes on experiential and inquiry-based learning, both in and outside the classroom. The curriculum at Chadwick International is designed to meet the educational standards of the International Baccalaureate (IB) as well as the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

The abundance of state-of-the-art technologies and facilities—including an aquatic center, a gymnasium with a capacity of 1,500, a 700-seat performing arts indoor theatre, and a television studio that allows production of up to eight channels—offers students enhanced opportunities for individualized instruction and self-directed learning. Meanwhile, a focus on community provides a supportive environment for all students.

Learn more at www.chadwickschool.org

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