Dr. Maria-Christina J. A. Weemaes-Lidman
“Early Childhood is not a rehearsal, it won’t come back.”
Dr. Lidman is an internationally recognised advocate of holistic education with 20 years of early childhood education experience in Hong Kong. As a teacher, curriculum coordinator, vice-principal and principal, Dr. Lidman has implemented International Baccalaureate, International Primary Curriculum, Montessori, Waldorf, Nature Education and Reggio Emilia philosophies in school curricula. Dr. Lidman is a qualified Montessori teacher (Early Childhood, Lower Primary and Upper Primary) and holds a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership and Management.
Prior to founding UCM, Dr. Lidman was principal of the Hong Kong Adventist Academy Kindergarten and a PGDE lecturer in early childhood at Hong Kong Baptist University. Dr. Lidman has been a keynote speaker at all five International Conferences in Early Childhood Education. Dr. Lidman is a member of the Asia Pacfiic Regional Network for Early Childhood and Pacific Early Childhood Education Research Association.
Ms. Gillian Lai
“Kindergarten is a heaven on earth, great pleasure to be here.”
Ms. Gillian is a certified Kindergarten Principal with 10 years’ experience in early childhood education. In 2017, Ms. Gillian was awarded a Masters degree in Early Childhood Education by the Hong Kong Baptist University, and was nominated as a Teacher Member of the Curriculum Development Council of the Education Bureau of Hong Kong. As an early childhood educator, curriculum coordinator, head teacher and principal, Ms. Gillian has been a Committee member of the Partnership for Promoting Whole Child Development Program under the Centre for University and School Partnership of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, as well as the The Mainland-Hong Kong Teachers Exchange & Collaboration Program under the Education Bureau.
Ms. Gillian embarked on her journey as an early childhood educator upon finishing her undergraduate degree. Always striving to excel herself, Ms. Gillian advanced her studies in early childhood education while being a full time kindergarten teacher. In 2016, not only did she complete her Masters degree while working as a full time teacher, she also gave birth to her first born. Those toilsome but fulfilling days gave her memorable experience and valuable insight as a young working parent who gives her very best to provide for her child.
“We nurture each child as our own.”
Firmly believes that a good educator’s impact on a child is profound and lasts for life, Ms. Gillian advocates teaching by example. A child’s moral education and character formation is even more important in his early years than the accumulation of vocabulary, skills and capabilities. Under Ms. Gillian’s leadership, all teachers at UCM respect the uniqueness of every child and are dedicated to letting students develop at their own pace. Ms. Gillian wishes to see UCM students become happy and self-motivated learners, and as they grow up, have the courage to pursue their dreams, and learn to face challenges and difficulties with ease.
Mr. Ng Cheuk Yin
“Music brings people together; especially family.”
A full spectrum musician, Ng Cheuk Yin is a composer, music producer, arranger, Sheng performer, music educator and ‘a cappella’ artist. Deeply in love with jazz music and equally accomplished in classical and pop music, Yin has an exciting and successful music career, and has won numerous awards as a composer and musician.
Yin has created children’s music for various art groups including Hong Kong Sinfonietta, Hong Kong Children’s Choir, Hong Kong Treble Choir, Metropolitan Youth Orchestra, Hong Kong Dance Company, and Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra to name but a few. His choral works are performed by hundreds of choirs all over the world.
From being a composer and performer of children’s music, Yin has gained new insight into this art form as he becomes the father of two adorable young kids and experiences the use of music as a parent. He realises that children are inborn musicians who have a natural desire to express themselves, and music happens anytime anywhere, over the dining table, during a walk in the park and in the bathtub.
Yin plays simple musical instruments with his daughters such as ukulele, piano and percussion for kids. Not only will they sing well-known nursery rhymes together, but they also sing to each other as part of their daily conversations. Yin sees the happiness that music can bring to a household, which directly contributes to the formation of a strong and engaging parent-child relationship.
With such insight, Yin joins UCM as our Music Director. Yin oversees UCM’s music direction, composes music for our students, supervises our student concerts and performances and conducts seminars and workshops for our teachers. Flower Music, a record label, music production and management company founded by Yin, will also support UCM in the production of high quality children’s music.
Ms. Vienna Ha
Music Education Advisor
“Through Music, we learn, we teach, and we grow.”
A Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) with more than 20 years of special education experience, Vienna has developed the “ABA & Music Training” approach, combining musical elements into the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) teaching strategies. Vienna is the founder of a training centre, providing training to children with different degrees of special educational needs, and to their parents and educators. Vienna also speaks regularly in schools and to the public, sharing her expertise in the domain of ABA and special educational needs.
Vienna believes each child has his/her own abilities and needs, and that a happy child learns best. Identifying with UCM’s mission to gift our children the joy of learning and the ability to embark on a life-long journey of advancement and growth, Vienna joins UCM as our Music Education Advisor, to advise on UCM’s curriculum as well as to provide talks, workshops and training to teachers and parents of UCM.
ABA has been scientifically proven to be one of the most effective methods for training children in their early years, in particular children with special educational needs. It is a systematic approach that helps to change, improve and measure behaviour. Focusing on positive reinforcement, task analysis and repetition, ABA enhances children’s learning motivation, communication and language abilities, social behaviour, sensory and cognitive abilities, resulting in a reduction in behavioral problems.
Ms. Nancy Loo
“The joy of music is our best gift to a child ; let it become a lifelong blessing!”Ms. Nancy Loo is one of Hong Kong’s most versatile artists, as pianist, radio programme hostess, actress and writer. She was a recipient of the Ten Outstanding Young Persons in 1978. As a pianist, Ms. Loo has given solo recitals and performed with orchestras in the United Kingdom, Europe, North American and Asia. She currently teaches the piano at The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts and The Chinese University of Hong Kong, and is often invited to host music talks and masterclasses and to serve as a juror for piano competitions. She is the hostess of a music programme ‘Belle Nuit’ and a classical music radio show for children, ‘Children’s Corner’, on Radio 4 of the Radio Television Hong Kong.
Dr. Kee Chi Hing
Dr. Kee Chi Hing is the Chairman of Fullness Society Enterprises Society.
Dr. Kee is an Adjunct Professor of the School of Business in Hong Kong Baptist University, an Adjunct Professor in Urban Ministry of Bethel Bible Seminary, a member of the Doctoral Academic Approval Committee of Bethel Bible Seminary, and a member of the Advisory Committee of the Department of Applied Social Science of Polytechnic University. He is also a board director of Chinese YMCA.
Dr. Kee is a former member of the Social Enterprise Advisory Committee of the Home Affairs Bureau and a former member of Community Investment and Inclusion Fund in the Labor and Welfare Bureau. He is now a member of the Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Fund Task Force in the Commission on Poverty.
Before retirement, Dr. Kee was a Corporate Vice President and Hong Kong Managing Director of Hewlett-Packard (HP) responsible for the P&L of HK$4B business.
Dr. Kee graduated from the University of Hong Kong majoring Electrical Engineering, attended The General Management Program of Harvard Business School, and completed the Master of Arts in Christian Studies and Master of Theology degrees both at the Divinity School of Chung Chi College at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, and a Doctor of Education in Lifelong Learning degree from University of Nottingham.
Ms. Natalie Lau
“The ultimate goal of education is to liberate one’s mind.”
Ms. Natalie Lau is a lecturer at the College of International Education of Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU), where she teaches The Art of Persuasion and Interpersonal Communication. In the 2019-2020 academic year, she received the Dean’s Recognition for Teaching Achievement award from HKBU to celebrate her enthusiasm in teaching and nurturing young adults. Prior to her engagement with HKBU, she worked at The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology where she conducted workshops in communication-related topics to local and international undergraduate students.
Ms. Natalie received her Master of Science in Applied Linguistics degree at The University of Edinburgh. She also holds a Master of Arts in Language Studies degree awarded by HKBU.
Mr. Chan Lik Sang (Big John)
“Love the art in your heart, be loyal to yourself.”
Mr. Chan Lik Sang (Big John) graduated from the School of Drama of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, majoring in Acting. In 2004, he furthered his studies in Aesthetic Education at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York.
Big John is dedicated to the development of educational drama and has coached students of more than 60 primary schools, secondary schools and education centres in Hong Kong as a drama tutor. Big John is also an active playwright and director of musical theatre productions for primary and secondary schools, such as The Wizard of Oz and Oliver Twist.
Since 2017, Big John has been appointed as the Artistic Director of Hong Kong Children’s Musical Theatre. Recent productions where Big John participated as a playwright, director or lyricist include Mystery of Chinese Name (2017), the Writing Adventure of Bui Bui (2017), Far Far Far Away (2018) and Under the Stars, We Dream (2019).
Big John is currently also an adjudicator of the Hong Kong School Drama Festival, a jury member of the Hong Kong Federation of Drama Societies, and a member of the Composers and Authors Society of Hong Kong.
Ms. Gillian: I would say “music”, a universal language that transcends cultural and linguistic boundaries, and “meaningful playtime”. Both are essential to all children’s learning and development. UCM is designed as an environment that arouses children’s inborn curiosity, where learning naturally happens. Learning should always be motivating, engaging and fun, opening up a world of wonder. Through constant discovery and taking initiative in learning, children develop their personal interests and independent thinking, which form the basis for developing international mindedness.
UCM provides plenty of opportunities for children to develop their knowledge and skills, as well as optimism and positive thinking. I would also add “home-school cooperation”, which is also a crucial link for young children to develop their self-confidence and self-motivation. That’s why we work very closely with parents and I always welcome parents to share with me their observations, questions and feelings.
Ms. Vienna: Music stimulates brain activity and multisensory integration, and contributes to the development of speech, cognitive, motor coordination and social emotional skills. To give a few examples, music improves a child’s:
- articulation of speech, understanding of words, and exercising of jaws through singing;
- fine and gross motor skills and multisensory coordination through playing instruments;
- sound discrimination functions of the auditory system through the repeated execution of sound processing functions;
- perception of temporal organisation of phonemes, syllables, words and phrases from an ongoing speech stream, through the development of rhythmic sense;
- logical thinking and mathematical sense, through order arranging and sequencing;
- concentration, attentiveness and memory functions;
and many more.
Use of ABA techniques combined with music elements help teachers and parents to communicate with children more effectively, and facilitate children’s learning and development in a systematic way. Last but not least, music makes a child happy. Every child has an inborn desire to sing and dance, active engagement in music facilitates a child’s self-expression ability which is essential in developing self-confidence and social skills.
Mr. Yin: At UCM we create an environment of quality music for our students. A typical day at UCM starts with singing our school song. Apart from singing, dancing and playing instruments in our regular music classes, there is an abundance of singing and enjoying music in our other classes.
Our music programme is designed specifically for children in their early years, and comprises a unique combination of IEYC units, Kindermusik course and our very own Creative Music course. Kindermusik is an internationally acclaimed course that helps children develop their language skills, social-emotional skills and fine and gross motor skills through age-appropriate music and movement activities. Our classes are taught by our music teacher Ms. Marie Vega, who is a professional, passionate and experienced educator and Kindermusik-licensed instructor.
The Creative Music course is a research-based programme designed by our Music Education Advisor Ms. Vienna Ha. In this course, students are guided in turning their imagination and ideas into unique works of music and art.
Apart from learning in the classroom, music performance is a crucial part of the UCM experience, be it singing on one’s own or in a choir, or playing simple tunes in an ensemble or an orchestra. In the preparation for performance our students learn to focus, be patient and resilient, be cooperative, and most of all acquire self-confidence and interpersonal skills.
Mr. Yin: We arrange systematic instrumental training by professional musicians for our students who are musically-gifted, however it is worth noting that the UCM music education is for every child, not only those who take instrumental exams or choose a music career when they grow up. We aspire to make music the best friend of each child, who will grow in happiness and confidence in a loving and caring environment filled with beautiful music.
In Hong Kong, parents are eager for their children to learn languages at a young age. Music is also a language, a language without words that is at times more powerful than words! We all have the experience of being moved to tears upon listening to music, or recalling sweet and silly childhood memories by listening to childhood tunes. Music is an expression of creativity, an amazing way to turn imaginative thoughts into actual ideas. At UCM, we aspire to unleash the creativity of every child.
Dr. Lidman: Holistic education is educating the whole child. The Head (thinking skills, academics), the Heart (character education, emotions) and the Hands (actions, behaviour), all three will need to be engaged for true education.
Offering a holistic curriculum is based on the premise that each person finds identity, meaning, and purpose in life through connections to the community, to the natural world and to empathetic values such as compassion and peace. Holistic education respects and facilitates diverse learning styles in response to the needs of evolving human beings. Students learn about nature, respect and admiration for life and a passion for learning through direct engagement with the environment.
Dr. Lidman: Children need a holistic educational experience that does not create artificial boundaries between the different aspects of their development. Learning must respond to children’s current and future personal needs, their future career needs, and the needs of the wide-ranging societies and cultural groups in which they are likely to play a part in. Learning needs to be active, in the sense that children must engage with their own learning. For young children, this means that learning, which is relevant to the future, must be placed in a context that is meaningful to their present lives.
Dr. Lidman: At UCM, we nurture our young learners by offering a solid academic foundation in combination with character education, permeated by resilience and respect, to achieve personal excellence. We equip our pre-primary students with 21st-century skills to embrace challenges with creativity and confidence in preparation to become tomorrow’s global citizens and future leaders.
Children deserve the best possible start in life. UCM teachers honour holistic education by offering their students opportunities to think independently, to cultivate and find ways of practicing caring relationships, to act as role models for character education; they strive to provide quality play, to instill and embed spirituality in daily classroom practice, to nurture creativity and innovation, to become ambassadors for environmental sustainability and to demonstrate through their daily actions the meaning of democracy.
UCM’s holistic enquiry-based curriculum encompasses research-based teaching methods, promotes brain-friendly learning, acknowledges multiple intelligences and applies a variety of teaching styles to address the needs of a diverse student population with individual learning styles involving visual, auditory and tactile learners.