DGS Headmistress - Stella Lau, Class of '72

As DGS graduates, we are very much aware of the important role our education at DGS plays in our formative years. It is not difficult to appreciate, whether or not we now have our own children, the mammoth task that our teachers undertake to help us get to where we are today. A headmistress may not have regular teaching duties, but her job is no less demanding.

Mrs. Stella Lau, of the class of 1972, took an hour off her very busy schedule to meet Winnie Kong and Delpha Ho of the Editorial Sub-committee, and to share her thoughts as Headmistress of her alma mater.

After graduating from University of Waterloo in Canada with a first degree in Sociology, Stella spent the first 10 years of her working life as a Community Relations Officer at the Independent Commission Against Corruption and then as a language teacher at the Ministry of Defense (UK) Chinese Language School. A 4 year posting with her family in Geneva ensued, during which time she took the opportunity to polish her French. On returning to Hong Kong in 1990, she joined the staff of DGS to teach Psychology, became the Counselling Mistress in 1993, Deputy Headmistress in 1994 and has been the Headmistress since 1999.

Stella became a teacher at DGS purely by chance. After being reassured that her daughter Queenie had settled well and was enjoying her time at DGJS, Stella applied for a post with the then Education Department as a supply teacher. When she was referred to the School by the ED, Mrs. Elim Lau, then headmistress of DGS, suggested to Stella to join DGS as a Psychology and English teacher instead. Although Stella had only taken Psychology as a minor subject in her degree and it was already then half-way into the first term of school, in true DGS spirit she took up the challenge and worked hard with her students who were to take the A- level examinations on the subject that school year. Her efforts paid off and she was rewarded by having six of her nine students scoring A in Psychology.

Of course, Stella by no means regards this achievement as the fruit of her efforts alone - the students have worked very hard with her. It underscores what she sees as a fundamental quality of DGS students. DGS girls have aspirations and are willing to work with the guidance the school offers towards attaining those aspirations.

Stella believes it to be of utmost importance in education to help DGS students build a solid foundation from which they could excel. This includes a sound moral training to enable DGS girls to have a "free and uncluttered mind" and a clear direction. DGS also creates an environment for students to hone their English and Chinese/ Putonghua skills, providing them with the basic tools of further education. In order to help students develop their diverse skills (be it in academic achievements or otherwise), students are encouraged to join all kinds of activities/competitions (not confined only to those subjects that they are taking at school), and annually "Most Improved Awards" are also handed out. Stella is particularly proud of the 'everyone helps everyone out' spirit at school - teachers give guidance and assistance to the students, older girls look after the younger ones and those with experience in some particular interest or subject help their less knowledgeable colleagues. Teachers and students of all ages are encouraged to mix in different aspects of school life to achieve a particular goal and/or to complete a project. Everyone is encouraged to take on a 'continuous learning' attitude. This helps foster a unique "closeness" within the school.

Presentations by recipients of external awards (such as for music and speech festivals and other external competitions) within the school are intended not only to show appreciation for the hard work and effort of those recipients, but also to encourage other students as well by demonstrating to them what they may be able to achieve if they are willing to try and put in the effort to do well.

DGS welcomes students with varying degrees of talents. Stella personally interviews all student applicants and prefers to select those whom she considers would likely participate in all different aspects of school life, fit in and be able to enjoy themselves at DGS. She works closely with DGJS in the early nurturing and training of students who have acquired particular skills and/or developed specific interests, so that the Senior School may continue the development of these skills and/or interests as the girls join DGS.

Very much an integral part of her efforts in perpetuating the DGS family, Stella adopts an "open door" policy with the students. Although she does not have any fixed teaching duties, students are encouraged to talk to her about any and all topics.

Having been a DGS girl herself, Stella finds that in many ways, DGS has always been a very progressive school and is well placed to deal with changes in times and the proposed education reforms. Project work, for example, is not something new to the way subjects are taught. It is not unusual, particularly in senior classes, for students to raise new issues which are not covered by the teaching curriculum, in which case teachers assume the role of a facilitator and discuss these new issues with students in the context of what they have learnt.

Not only are DGS teachers totally dedicated to education and to improving the School and what it offers, they are also very tolerant when it comes to pranks that DGS girls still play on teachers from time to time. As she puts it "Being naughty is in itself not a problem. It's in fact a sign of creativity and it certainly helps make the School more lively. What we will not tolerate, of course, is any kind of action which is motivated by unkindness or malice. The distinction between the two is an important lesson that students should learn as they mature."

Stella is proud to be a DGS graduate and to be able to take up the challenging and difficult but interesting task of being Headmistress of DGS.