From Scripps to China via Oxford
June 22, 2011 - Northeast Yucai Oxford (NYO) International High School in Shenyang, China has found it's leading man.
Aaron Dobson, the current assistant principal at Scripps Middle School in Lake Orion, will become the first ever principal at NYO, which is scheduled to open this fall.
"It's an honor to not only be a part of this international school," Dobson said.
NYO became official when Oxford Community Schools signed a cooperative agreement with Northeast Yucai Education Group and Beijing Channel Consulting (BCC) on April 20, 2011.
The international school is the result of a sister school agreement Oxford Schools Superintendent Dr. William Skilling and Dr. Geo Chen, of Northeast Yucai Education Group, signed on June 19, 2010. The school will be housed in a existing building on Northeast Yucai's Fushan campus in Shenyang.
Dobson comes to OCS with a master's degree in K-12 Educational Administration and lots of international experience.
He previously served on Michigan State University's International School Leadership Cohort at Plymouth University in Plymouth, England, and did an internship at Governor Stirling Senior High School in Midland/Perth, Australia.
Dobson salary as principal is around $70,000 along with benefits, which includes free housing. His salary in China will be pretty comparable to what traditional high school principal in Michigan would make.
Dobson will not travel alone. Going with him will be his fiance Jennifer Platukas, who will be teaching math . She is scheduled to make $20,000. The BCC will pay for both Dobson's and Platukas' salary and Dobson's housing.
Dobson said it was the experience of teaching in China which lead he and Platukas to accept positions at NYO.
"It's building and creating a school that has never been done before in the world and the personal experience is worth the value...we're passionate about education. The actual salary part is not important to us," he said.
He added he felt no hesitation about leaving his job with the Lake Orion School District and taking a position in China.
"Working with Dr. Skilling and working with Oxford is something that I have always wanted to do," he said. "To do it internationally, that is just an added facet to know how amazing this experience is going to be."
According to Dobson, NYO is interested in having an American style school and the district's press release about Dobson's hiring supports his claim about NYO.
"In stark contrast to a typical Chinese school, the NYO wing is decorated western-style so students will feel like they're stepping into American classrooms. The furniture, colors, artwork and other displays will have a similar aesthetic to Oxford High School."
In addition to looking like an American school, Dobson said NYO will have the first high school varsity football team in China.
"We are really excited about that," Dobson said. "They want an American influence and one of the biggest influences we can bring athletically is football and establishing the types of traditions we have here in Michigan for that sport and other sports."
Dobson spent seven years teaching English Language Arts and running the leadership program at Clarkston High School before becoming the assistant principal at Scripps Middle School this past year.
Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.