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Shaw-Hamilton heads high school


We've switched sides at Woodstock. Dr. Paul Taylor has returned to Oxford. Mark Shaw-Hamilton, our new high school co-ordinator, is from Cambridge. With his quiet manner and careful choice of words, Mr. Shaw-Hamilton differs from his exuberant predecessor. His quiet, gentle presence leaves no question that he is in charge.

Mark Shaw -Hamilton and his family lived in Africa for the first fifteen years of his career, while he was teaching in Uganda, Tanzania and Ghana. They moved back to England twenty years ago, settling south of Birmingham so his wife Jan could train for the Anglican ministry and his children go to school. His married daughter works in Yorkshire now, while his son is a lawyer in London. Tragically Jan was killed in a car accident in 1997.

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He loves walking in the hills and spends his yearly holidays in remote areas. This is the first time he has come to India, even though he's known of Mussoorie for some time. His brother-in-law, Ted Lancaster, was a doctor on the hillside here.

Certain aspects of life here intrigue Mr. Shaw-Hamilton. "There are a whole lot of things that should not work out, but do," he says. "In some aspects Woodstock is advanced, the AV department for example. In other aspects, there may be an insularity, a self-satisfaction. Maybe both perspectives are incorrect, I haven't been here very long."

Following after Paul Taylor is a very hard act to follow, he says. He teaches physics. The physics equipment is "interesting. " But he is amazed at the ingenuity of Jagdish the lab technician - who can fix equipment so it functions perhaps even better than it did when it was bought. The level of professional support here is absolutely glorious, he feels." It is very stimulating working for colleagues from so many parts of the world and with such a range of strengths."

He likes working with his colleagues in the High School Office. "The staff here gives marvellous support: Mrs. Jain, Mr. Shepherd, Shailendra and Surat Singh. It is amazing that Surat's family has worked for the. school for 125 years. In India there seems to be a self-assurance so that an occasional misplaced word is graciously forgiven."

As part of his previous job, Mark Shaw-Hamilton prepared people for the transition to University and employment. This is something he would like to further here. The atmosphere at Woodstock is very supportive and protective, but are our students equipped to find employment and survive in college?

Transference skills are important all over the world. He cites the example of a student who attended an orientation held by a member of the faculty of a foreign university. When asked -what he did in his spare time, the student said, "I sleep." Glib remarks like those do not impress interviewers, he says.

Yet he was impressed by students at Big Brother /Big Sister Day. "At the After Ridge Open house, for an hour and a half, students were throwing a tennis ball at a pyramid of coke tins. They could have smashed window panes and fluorescent lamps if they had thrown with full force, but they sensibly did not, so nothing was broken."

Mr. Shaw-Hamilton is fond of Indian food and enjoys walking and reading. "I read biographies if I can get hold of them, science books and fiction, occasionally. I love classical music, choral if possible. Had an acre and a half garden in the house that I sold in England which kept me occupied.

This winter Mark Shaw-Hamilton will marry Margaret Rollands, a nurse trainer from Wales.

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