The beginning of the 2022-23 academic year ushered in a new era at Shanghai Qibao Dwight High School with the appointment of Robert (Robbie) Shields as American Principal. He first joined the School five years ago as a member of both the College Counseling team and faculty as a grade 10 Economics teacher. During that time, Mr. Shields served as the International Director of College Counseling; taught IB Business Management and Theory of Knowledge — the two-year cornerstone IB Diploma Program course; and coached the Boys Basketball team. Wearing all of these hats afforded him the opportunity to gain deep insights into the community while working with students within and beyond the classroom, as well as by collaborating with fellow faculty and staff, extending his passion for helping young people find their spark of genius.
Mr. Shields assumed the role of American Principal when Ms. Turner, who was a School founder and the first American Principal, returned to New York after several decades in China. She is now Dwight Schools’ Education Director for East Asia and continues to serve on Shanghai Qibao Dwight High School’s Governing Board, lending her support and counsel.
Committed to advancing Sino-U.S. cultural and educational communication and cooperation, Mr. Shields brought his experience in administration at the university level and in developing new programs in China with him when he began his tenure at Qibao Dwight High School. During the six years prior, he worked at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, where he launched the Career Services Office at the Hopkins-Nanjing University Center for Chinese and American Studies. Previously, Mr. Shields had introduced a study abroad and internship program in China for students at the University of Florida. At that time, he was working in the University’s Warrington College of Business Administration as an academic advisor and career counselor for undergraduates. These programs brought together classroom and experiential learning opportunities with alumni and external stakeholders to benefit students.
In 2018, while working in Nanjing, Mr. Shields met with former American Principal of Qibao Dwight, Brantley Turner, who introduced him to the possibility of joining the team, where he could have an impact on young people’s lives earlier in their educational journeys.
Among the numerous things that makes QD a special place, Mr. Shields speaks to the School’s vision and people. “I remain amazed at the vision the Spahn family and Chairman Qiu had in bringing this partnership together, and the ability of Brantley Turner and Wang Fang to make it a thriving success. One need only look at the amazing learning opportunities that exist at QD and throughout the Dwight global network to understand the unique vision of the institution.” In terms of people, he continues, “There are so many who have contributed to our success and I am delighted by the School’s cooperative nature; we make decisions collaboratively and this yields so many benefits for all.
A native of Richmond, VA, Mr. Shields is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and earned his JD from the University of Florida. He planned to focus on criminal defense law before transitioning to education, which he felt was his true calling and ultimately inspired his move to China to pursue exciting new opportunities.
“I believe that education should be a transformative process that empowers individuals to become lifelong learners who are equipped with the skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary to thrive in a rapidly changing world,” Mr. Shields says. “My philosophy centers on three key principles, beginning with the importance of experiential learning. Students learn best when they are actively engaged in the learning process, and when they have opportunities to apply their knowledge and skills in real-world contexts. The second is access to high-quality education for all, which includes access to resources, technology, and support services that enable students to succeed. It also means creating an inclusive learning environment that promotes equity to ensure that every student has the opportunity to reach their full potential. Finally, education should be personalized to meet every student’s individual strengths, interests, learning styles, and needs, which is Dwight’s first pillar. When we do so, we create a learning environment that is engaging, relevant, and meaningful for every student.”
As we look ahead to next year and to QD’s coming ten-year anniversary in 2014, we are excited to see what the future holds for all of our students in Shanghai.