The Henry Gaisano Outstanding School Leader award was conferred on Fr. Aristotle Dy, SJ, on April 15 at the Philippine International Convention Center. The award is known in Chinese as the Shi Weipeng (Cebu Anonymous) Model Educator Awards, which also recognizesoutstanding Chinese language teachers. 

Fr. Ari Dy has been school president of Xavier School since 2013. His approach to education is to serve the needs of the 21st century learner, where the focus is on developing a growth mindset. This approach emphasizes the development of lifelong learning skills and attitudes rather than just focusing on the specific – and narrower – curriculum of each subject area. Assuring the quality of the school’s International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme for Senior High School students has proved to be one way of promoting academic rigor. This focus on growth and quality also involves the expanded integration of technology in education, highlighted by the school’s successful transition to online learning during the last three pandemic school years, and its status as an Apple Distinguished School.  Living in a world that is transforming at a faster rate than ever experienced in history, he notes, “School leaders and teachers must constantly renew themselves. We must be bold in trying new things so that we can be better equipped to help young people who must navigate a world of constant change.”

Under Fr Ari Dy’s leadership, the school’s Chinese language program was strengthened and updated to fit the present-day context of the students. This includes a strategic shift to listening and speaking skills as the priority areas in learning the language, setting competence standards and using the HSK exams administered by the Chinese International Testing Center for international benchmarking, and the recruitment and professional development of teachers from China. The Xavier China Experience, a 6-week credited study trip to China for high school students of Xavier School San Juan, became a mandatory program under Fr Dy’s leadership. Through his efforts, the school also provides developmental assistance to other Chinese schools, namely Tiong Se Academy and Northern Rizal Yorklin School.

The award was established in 1984 by the Philippine Chinese Education Research Center at the behest of Mr. Henry Gaisano (Shi Weipeng) who wanted to anonymously promote the teaching of the Chinese language in the country by recognizing outstanding administrators and language teachers. It was only upon his death in 2004 that his son, Benito, revealed his identity to the community and pledged that the family would preserve their father’s legacy in Chinese-Filipino education. The recognition comes with a cash prize which Fr. Ari is donating to the scholarship fund at its Xavier School Nuvali campus to support full scholars, who are recruited from public schools in Laguna. 

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