Nick Gilbert, Editor of International School Parent Magazine, interviews Didier Boutroux, the Head Master & Founding Board Member of Le Régent Crans-Montana College.
• What initially inspired you to pursue a career in education?
I had a very interesting experience as a boarding tutor in a French Lycée when studying at university, which sparked my desire to build a career in education.
• How do your own life/work experiences inform your approach to your work?
My own boarding school experience gave me a first-hand insight into community life and enabled me to relate easily to my students. Coming from a traditional French family and married to a British artist has certainly contributed to my broad-mindedness.
• What have you learnt from your time as a head teacher of an international school?
How much I enjoy the diversity of languages and cultures! I have also understood that gender, age, social and cultural gaps can be bridged easily. Henry Ford once said, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” I have proved the truth of his saying on many occasions throughout my long career.
• What characterises the students graduating from your school?
They are equipped to look towards the future and blossom in an ever-changing world while cherishing their collective heritage. They have become self-sufficient, internationally-minded, inquisitive and caring global citizens.
• What would you say makes the learning environment extra special?
Two factors contribute to the uniqueness of our learning environment: the natural element and the human one. We live in an extremely healthy, remarkably safe and strikingly beautiful environment, which provides an inspiring place to learn with confidence, determination and happiness. We are extremely lucky to have attracted many local children who bring to our school their rich cultural heritage and facilitate our integration into the local community.
• Which features of the school do parents value the most?
- A happy, supportive and purposeful atmosphere
- A rigorous and challenging curriculum
- An individual approach to academics coupled with small classes and a strong tutorial system
- The breadth of our extra-curricular activities and an emphasis on arts and sports
• What are the main principles and philosophies you promote at the school?
Everything we do, from the classroom to the boardroom, is guided by four principles: COURTESY, COMPASSION, CREATIVITY, and COURAGE.
• How do you get children to do their best academically?
By planning and delivering a demanding curriculum; providing individual support and monitoring in the most positive manner the progress of our students. Small class sizes, progressive methods of teaching and state of the art technology make teaching and learning a unique experience.
Students and teachers work in small classes in brand new facilities that are equipped with state of the art technology.
• Which other areas of education and extracurricular activities are you developing?
We offer Mandarin classes which are very much appreciated. We are also putting a special emphasis on entrepreneurship, service, arts, sports, and the discovery of the surrounding mountains.
• How do you encourage understanding between cultures and nationalities?
By establishing a climate of courtesy and tolerance that leads to the understanding and respect of others.
• What is the best thing about leading an international school in Switzerland?
The opportunity to offer a healthy and safe environment in which our students can thrive.
• How do you make the most of everything Switzerland has to offer?
By establishing a weekend program which will, over the years, enable all our students to discover the best Switzerland has to offer, such as its cultural heritage, national beauty and unique system of government (direct democracy). We are in fact teaching one term of Swiss history in Year 9.
• How do you help international students settle in when they first arrive?
Our pastoral care system based on courtesy and compassion insures that we are extremely attentive to everyone’s needs. This is also helped by a very low ratio between students/ and teachers, and a strong support system.
The future of education:
• What are the main trends in education that you are seeing at the moment?
Undervaluing the importance of the arts and at times sports, which we have chosen to support actively because the world of industry and business is crying out for creative people who are adept at working in teams.
• What are the main challenges for education as a whole in the future?
Ensuring that our students are fully conversant with the world of IT and at the same time committed to a world where social interaction is courteous and compassionate.
• How are you equipping your students for future success?
From the start, our students are encouraged to think and discover for themselves. They are trained to be life-long independent learners. Most importantly, we make sure they are honest, kind, hardworking, and open to others.