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Five Minutes of Fame with Kevin Shaw

Kevin Shaw is Director of Sport at Dulwich College (Singapore) and has been here since the opening in 2014 having moved out to Singapore with his family from London. There, he was Head of Cricket at Dulwich College. Here he tells us about his favourite holiday reads, sneaks an extra five into his dinner party guest list (which we think we will allow) and lets us in on a couple of hidden talents which may be surprising. 

Where else in the world have you lived?

This is my first posting abroad. Before travelling to Singapore my family and I lived in London while I worked at Dulwich College in London and I am originally from Suffolk. I also taught in Cambridgeshire for seven years. 

Tell us about your family.

I have an older sister who lives in Ireland and she has three children. My father passed away when I was 18 and one of my biggest regrets is not being able to share my adult life with him. He was a man with an opinion about everything and we would have had some fun… My wife Heather is also a teacher at Dulwich College (Singapore) and teaches science. We got married in the beautiful church in the school she used to work at. I have three daughters who lead active lives and enjoy the many opportunities that living in Asia presents. We do miss our family back at home in the UK and enjoy catching up with them when we return to the UK every summer.

What’s your favourite weekend activity in Singapore?

I enjoy a game of tennis or golf, if I get the chance. We also like watching a movie together, or some live sport and cooking up a barbecue.

Did you always want to be a teacher?

I always wanted to have a career in sport. Teaching has enabled me to do this, not only playing and coaching sport but also encouraging others to get involved in whatever physical activities inspire them. I feel blessed and privileged to be a sports teacher. I don’t think there’s a better job than helping to shape young people’s lives and develop their personalities.

What is your favourite book and who is your favourite author?

I enjoy a good autobiography; Jason Robinson’s and Michael Crawford’s are two terrific reads, along with Michael Simpson, the BBC news journalist. I also enjoy a good John Grisham, Lee Child or David Baldacci thriller if I get the chance (usually in the holidays).

Tell us about a hidden talent or a top secret that no-one would know about you.

I have two! Whilst I was at school, as well as playing sport, I was also a dancer and had a particular interest in tap and modern. I nearly went to dance school at the age of 13 but the lure of football, rugby and cricket took over.

Whilst being an Ipswich Town football fan all my life, I actually played for their arch rivals: Norwich City Schoolboys. I nearly signed for them as a 17-year-old. I never felt comfortable wearing the canary yellow though and am grateful to my father for encouraging me to finish my A-levels and go to university.

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party, dead or alive?

I’m booking the Rat Pack for my entertainment. They are so talented and full of fun.

Around the table we’d have Sir Colin Cowdrey (one of the finest and most courageous English gentlemen you could ever meet), Grace Kelly (such an iconic woman of that era), Nelson Mandela (full of charisma and it would be fascinating to hear of his life journey first hand), Princess Diana (led such an interesting life and did such great charity work) and Sir Bobby Robson (one of the greatest English football managers who had success at every level of the game, with fantastic inter-personal skills).

What does a typical day at the College look like for you?

I get into Dulwich at about 7.00am to check facilities and early CCAs. I then check my emails and look in on all the sports staff to see if anything urgent needs addressing before the first lesson of the day.

The rest of the day consists of teaching and meetings and having the pleasure of watching all my talented colleagues deliver great, active sports lessons. Running the sports programme means I have the privilege of working with the whole College staff from the academics to catering, admissions and marketing, finance and operations as well as sports communities in Singapore and around the world. 

I work closely with Dulwich College International (DCI) so may have meetings with colleagues from there. To end the day, unless I’m away watching or taking a fixture I’ll be overseeing the sport at the College trying to see the students play as much as possible. 

Once the final ball has been kicked/passed/hit and the final stroke swum, I make my way home to spend some time with the girls. It’s really busy and full on and I’m lucky to have such a great team delivering and putting together the programme. I can safely say that no two days are ever the same.

Do you have a motto or saying that really resonates with you?

I have many. I try to live by the Dulwich sports traits of Determination, Courage, Skill and Grace on a daily basis and in all areas of my life. As I was growing up I had the benefit of contact with many wise and successful people. Early on in my career I was told that “although the grass may appear greener elsewhere, it will always need cutting so always be prepared to do the hard work” or, as the All Blacks would say, “clean the sheds”.

One of my favourite books is The Score Takes Care of Itself by the former San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Bill Walsh who says “Trust in your systems, control things you can control, if your systems and culture are correct the end results will look after themselves…”

Do you have a most memorable teacher moment?

Whenever we have that “lightbulb” moment. That occasion when an individual suddenly realises what they can achieve. It can happen at any time and is the reason why one can ever say never. It’s so important to provide opportunity and access at every level and pathways to take students wherever they wish to, at the right level for them. This is the constant challenge in my role and one that makes the job so rewarding. 

Thank you, Kevin.

Read more about Kevin Shaw!