OUR Director of Academic Life Coaching
Chinatown in Sydney, Australia circa 1985.
My Story: Eating More Rice
Born to working class parents in suburban Sydney, Mr. Zhang remembers fondly growing up in Harris Park where he accompanied his mother to work, as they could not afford childcare.
It never occurred to him that he would go on to attend the prestigious Sydney Conservatorium High School and study with award winning Australian pianist Stephanie McCallum.
I remember my parents occasionally taking me to a Chinese restaurant called “Riverside Restaurant” in nearby Parramatta. It was so exciting; we used to order the specials, and they had unlimited refills of rice. I always ate more rice, knowing there would be less tomorrow.
“My parents could only afford 30 minutes lessons when I started at age 7. I was lucky to study with a graduate from a Polish music school who had just moved to Australia. Piano was still a hobby when I auditioned for the top music school in Australia. I had only passed one graded examination and could not read or write music. Much to my surprise I was accepted days before school started. I was entering a grade level of 20 music students, the smallest class in Australia. My first exam score was 47% – the bottom of the class. It was only through experiencing and accepting failure that I was able to grow, struggle again, grow more, and succeed. I ended high school with the highest music grades, multiple awards, the highest scholarship to the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, and an acceptance letter from the Royal Academy of Music in London.”
Chinatown in Sydney, Australia circa 1985.
Mr. Zhang performs Mozart for an education-focued TEDx event in China.
In 2012, Mr. Zhang graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in London with an honours degree, receiving multiple scholarships and awards. Prior to completing his studies, he would assist music students at Swanlea School, where most students received government-sponsored meals due to economic difficulties. Whilst he would have loved to be at graduation and receive his degree from the newly appointed Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton, the time at Swanlea would unexpectedly lead him to a lifetime commitment to teaching. He accepted a teaching offer overseas and relocated to the other side of the world, at the British School of Guangzhou, China.
I remember regularly walking into the grand atrium of the Royal Academy, passing the statue of Myra Hess, and sitting in the old wood-furnished canteen. One day a 16 year old Benjamin Grosvenor* sat opposite me at lunch. He asked me if I had played so and so pieces by Rachmaninoff or Scriabin. It was soon clear to the award winning British pianist that the young Chinese-Australian wearing shorts and a T-shirt had no idea what he was talking about. But we have been close friends ever since, and many other friendships started similarly. Anxious parents might be pleased to know that I started my first year with the lowest grade.
The Royal Academy of Music in London.
Since his first teaching appointment, Mr. Zhang has been involved in a variety of educational projects in diverse roles. He has been a classroom teacher from foundation through to graduation, and was most recently commended for 100% highly qualified success for AP Music. In 2016, Mr. Zhang was also awarded a National Professional Qualification for Middle Leaders (NPQML) in Leadership from the UK National Teachers College. During this time he continued to perform regularly as a chamber musician and soloist at venues including the Sydney Opera House and European Union Headquarters in Brussels. He spent four years at Saltus Grammar School in Bermuda, a school with deep traditions and a 140 year history. During this time he trained in coaching methodology, and how neuroscience could be used to help students study strategically.
Academic Life Coaching is a compelling alternative, with coaches trusting and holding students to their highest standards. When students are at the centre of their learning and when trust is at its highest, students are capable of incredible personal and academic progress. This is further enhanced with the coaches expertise in applied neuroscience (learning how to learn) and in developing interdependence (the ability to develop and maintain harmonious relationships).
Mr. Zhang now resides in China’s technological hub of Shenzhen.
Mr. Zhang now resides in China’s technological hub of Shenzhen and is the founder of PRECIS Education Consulting Shenzhen LTD. He divides his time between coaching students to success and advising families on educational pathways. While PRECIS has a “Best In Class” record for UK University and Independent School admissions, Mr. Zhang has demonstrated in his own life that overcoming failure is the key to lifelong happiness and success. In his free time, he accompanies students to concerts where they learn to appreciate music, write concert reviews and conduct interviews. The student advocacy group is called the Shenzhen Concert Society (SZCS).
*Benjamin Grosvenor is a multi-award winning British Pianist. His achievements include Gramophone’s ‘Young Artist of the Year’, BBC Young Musician of the Year and a Classic Brit’s Critic Award . He has been featured in two BBC Documentaries and is a Decca artist. Find out more.