Deputy Principal of CWS Primary School, Viktoria Calendino

When talking to Viktoria for the first time, two things stood out: her expressive body language and her measured way of speaking. The former makes a person feel comfortable and close in her presence; even strangers will melt under the influence of her warm smile. Her manner of speaking, of making every word loud and clear, makes conversation with her easy and enjoyable.


When we described these traits to her, she characteristically burst out laughing. She replied “I guess it’s because I spend so much time with pupils in primary school. I win their hearts by communicating in a way they understand!”


Warm, heart-felt and radiant. This is Viktoria Calendino, the Deputy Principal of CWS Primary School.


Brief Introduction

Attained Master’s Degree from the University of British Columbia

Dedicated 21 years professional experience with Early Years and Primary School pupils

Specialises in primary school multidisciplinary teacher training

Taught at internationally inspired institutions spanning four countries

Mastered three languages


Viktoria’s experience, put simply, has been growing up and working in a multilingual, multicultural environment.


Viktoria is fluent in three languages. Benefitting from a diverse family background with an Italian father and Croatian mother, she grew up with her parents in Canada. The multi-lingual, multi-cultural environment and experience became her greatest advantage, as she discovered when entering the educational sector.


Viktoria reviews Westminster School’s training content with the Primary Team.


When Viktoria was a student, she was very sensitive to the process of learning a language. She was able to not only master the languages themselves, but also to engage with the psychological processes surrounding language acquisition. She furthered her interest in this area, by studying educational psychology for her bachelor degree, during which she grew to recognise the importance of empathy. Therefore, when she started her teaching career as a General teacher in primary school, she was ready to engage with this age group, both in terms of the teaching approach required and psychological demands. This enabled her to achieve remarkable teaching results.


By the fourth year in her teaching career, she had become a mentor. Since then, she has been active not only in primary education, but also as a training specialist for the professional development of teachers and as a school administrator at a local and national level. Her educational career has flourished in New Zealand, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Malaysia and most recently in Shanghai, China.


Viktoria works with the Primary Team.


In 2020, after 21 years professional experience with Early Years and Primary School pupils, she joined Chengdu Westminster School’s Preparatory Phase.


When asked what attracted her to Chengdu Westminster School, Viktoria’s expression became animated:


“In simple terms, the school, the Head Master and the ethos.”


“The Westminster School is a frequently-mentioned school in my career It is a school that has maintained top reputation for 900 years is extremely remarkable.” Then she stopped talking, and pointed at a picture of Head Master Rodney Harris on the wall in the preparation office. She added, “A great school, first and foremost, needs a great principal. The educational ethos and charisma of Head Master Rodney Harris make me confident that Chengdu Westminster School will be a great educational success.”


Viktoria discusses with our Primary School‘s teacher.


“Obviously, I think what appeals to me more is the qualities it aims to nurture in its pupils. A school should really want to shape its pupils to become good people who care for others and the world beyond, rather than being motivated by personal success at the expense of others. For instance, a school that places community service at the centre of its educational goals and guides pupils to contribute to the locality from which they benefit, in turn motivates pupils to make their own contributions to society. I like the fact that CWS has service at the centre of its ethos. I like that they encourage pupils to think about being better in every element, mind, body, humanity and to care about others and eventually to become an all-rounded individual. At CWS, I have found a soil in which to cultivate my own educational ethos.”


The preparatory work for the School is busy and purposeful, and Viktoria has shown an impressive agility to adapt to the fast-paced environment.


“We ensure all aspects of Chengdu Westminster Primary School are the best they can be, combining core Chinese education with a global perspective, while reflecting Westminster School’s ethos and further supported by high-quality educational resources from around the world. Through such a framework, the Primary School Principal Claire Liu and our excellent academic team will work together to ensure that our students will have a solid foundation in primary education.”


My working goal is to bridge the Chinese and English learning for our pupils, and to create an ideal environment for pupils to successfully learn English, supported by their competency in Mandarin. This is made possible through the joint teaching of Chinese and English teachers, as well as the integration of curriculum and evaluation system. Secondly, to achieve this goal, I will provide Chinese and English teachers with the support and guidance of teaching methods and educational resources. I will bring my own educational experience and resources from North America, Oceania and Asia to make this dynamic team more outward-facing and globally minded. By doing this, I want to re-affirm the CWS ethos that learning is not just about mastering the knowledge of a specific subject, but more importantly expanding pupils’ horizons and changing the way they see the world every day.”


During the primary school stage, parents are particularly concerned with the level of support provided by teachers. With regards to international style education in primary stage, parents are most concerned with the implementation of bilingual teaching in a largely Mandarin-centric environment. However, Viktoria believes the key to bilingualism is having professional teachers who put their children’s physical and mental health first.


Viktoria shared her educational philosophy with us, describing her aspirations for the Primary Team. “When I think of myself as a teacher, if the child in my class isn’t thriving, I cannot blame the child. It is up to me to provide an environment in which that child can bloom. So what can I change in my classroom? What can I change around the child that will trigger something positive for them so that they can thrive? That is, in a nutshell, my philosophy. I want that child to feel like they deserve to be all they can be. I want that child to want to be all that they can be. And then I will do my best to create an environment for them where they have a chance to be all that they can be. When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.


Viktoria has been impressed by the support the Primary Team has received from Westminster School:


Viktoria introduced her educational philosophy to the whole team on Teacher’s Day.


The school benefits from the full and unreserved support of Westminster Under School, in London. Even though Covid-19 has placed a physical distance between us, we still continue to have our regular weekly meeting with experts from Westminster School, including the Head of Science, Maths and English. During these online sessions, we don’t just discuss general ideas and concepts, but we enter detailed discussion about how to deliver a class effectively and how to individualism teaching approaches. “Westminster School gives us what we ask for and often go above and beyond! The support from Westminster School is very comprehensive and detailed.”


The Primary School has a group of top experts with extensive practical experience of both classroom teaching and curriculum development. Our team of teachers brings together a rich and sophisticated understanding of the Chinese curriculum and best practice in international pedagogy. Our expat teachers are leading experts in their own academic fields with an abundance of teaching resources. “Children only get one chance for education and all of our outputs are based on proven and successful practices.”


“Here at CWS, what we have is not only a group of top teachers but also an educational ecosystem developed by them. It’s all about giving every student the chance to be who they want to be.”