Rita, Sowing Seeds of Sustainability

Meet Rita, Halcyon London International School co-founder. Halcyon is London’s only not-for-profit IB School.

1Can you explain your role in one sentence?I am one of the four co-founders of Halcyon London International School, as well as current board chair. I worked at the school in the early days and one of my children graduated from Halcyon. Nowadays I take an active role in the strategic and financial planning of the school.

2How long have you been doing this job?We are celebrating our 10-year anniversary this year and I have been involved since the beginning. We had a student celebration and will have an event in June to mark the anniversary. We are also celebrating with curricular reviews with a focus on innovation.

3Did you find yourself in this role by accident or by design?Both. My children were at another school before I co-founded Halcyon. I loved the holistic concept of that school but they changed paths, so this group of four parents thought, “we’ll open our own school!” All the co-founders are committed to student-centric learning. Halcyon prioritises a strong sense of community where pupils can feel happy and secure which greatly improves engagement and learning. It was also a priority to be a not-for-profit which has become less and less common in independent schools.

4What’s the best part about your role? The interaction with students! You can see the benefits for them of being part of a community where their voice truly matters. Our goal is to offer an education where you have academic excellence, can be happy and part of the community. Learning should be a positive experience so you feel good about learning going forward.

5What’s the strangest thing that has ever happened to you in your job? Nothing terribly strange has happened, although Brexit and Covid were unexpected challenges. That said, our staff and students handled it very well. For example, being a digital savvy school, we went online overnight and could continue a high level of learning.
We also found ourselves dealing with all kinds of details when we co-founded the school. We were all committed to sustainability and wanted this woven into our practice - part of our approach to authentic learning - seeing the real-life value of what you learn and do at school. We wanted very much to include delicious, fresh lunches. One co-founder wanted us to serve vegetarian lunches. I was opposed at first. Fast-forward, I became a vegetarian several years ago. We didn’t build a new building. We don’t have a school bus; our students use public transport and we have received two Green School Awards over recent years. Attention to these details has had a positive impact on our community and sustainability.

6What do you enjoy doing when you are not at work?I love to walk and hike, I do yoga and go to the gym. I also love to travel, study languages, cook, spend time with friends and family, read, and go to the theatre. There aren’t too many things I don’t like to do although I don’t need to bungee jump.

7What do you like about this area? I have been around here for almost 30 years and I have seen a shift. I love how much the area has grown and evolved. It’s a lovely, diverse neighbourhood with great museums, food and green spaces. Seymour Place has become a welcoming, bustling street. The area is friendly and clean. Traffic flow has also improved and we love our pedestrian-safe traffic lights!

8Where’s your favourite place to go for lunch in the local area? Other than our school canteen? I enjoy many places and probably go most often to So French, or The Italian Greyhound.

9Who is YOUR hero and what is it about them that inspires you?I don’t have one hero but many. Our staff and our director are so dedicated to our mission. They really live our values. You truly see the benefits of their dedication when you speak with our students and their parents.

10If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would it be?It’s a long list – scuba-diving off the Galapagos, visiting Antarctica and Japan are my top three.

Rita, Sowing Seeds of Sustainability