Name: Cheng Cho-chak Age: 45 Years of headship: five School: Baptist Lui Ming Choi Secondary School Did you always want to be a school principal? No, I did not think of teaching until I went to university. As an assistant lecturer during my masters training, I realised that working and mixing with people - rather than test tubes - would be much more rewarding. Describe your style of headship? I listen to the views of my colleagues but give direction in accordance with the school's aims and objectives, even though some decisions may disappoint colleagues. I explain my point of view and try to persuade them if they disagree. Parents' feedback also is essential. Who influenced your approach? The school principal before me. He taught me to perform my duties with dignity and love. A principal must be determined to meet the demands and hopes of his or her students and provide the right learning environment. On the other hand, a principal must communicate with people; talk to parents, students and teachers and know their concerns. What is the most demanding part of a principal's job today? It's a rapidly changing world. Principals have to keep track of these changes - the information boom and volatile political situations - and help lead teachers too. We have education reforms and policies to deal with. We have the computer and the Internet. Maybe one day, the computer will replace chalk as the teaching medium in classrooms. How do you cope with the pressures of your job? By playing football with my students and colleagues. Chatting with pupils and teachers also helps. What don't you enjoy as a school head? The job involves a lot of administrative work and I do not have enough time for direct communication with students. I feel I knew my students better when I was a counselling teacher. I can't enjoy a discussion as often as I would like with my fellow teachers in the staff-room. To some extent, I see a widening gap between myself, my teachers and students. What do you enjoy? When my colleagues respond positively after plans prove effective. It is different to being a teacher. A principal is a more multi-faceted person. What is the most memorable moment of your career? During one birthday my students celebrated with me on the school playground. I had never cut a birthday cake in front of so many people. I was so happy. What would you like to be remembered for? I would like my students to remember me as a serious but kind-hearted person. I would like my staff to remember me as a principal full of educational ideals. And I would like my school to think of me as not only someone who preserves things, but who improves them. What would you like to tell your students? They should observe the tree planted in the school grounds. Despite the unfavourable environment, it grows - smashing the cement beneath and absorbing the nutrition in the underground soil. Students should be equally full of power and life in facing the rapid world of changes. Take that picture with you when you leave the school. What would you like to tell your teachers? There are three points. To new teachers in particular I suggest: dare to manage, dare to teach and dare to establish relations. A teacher must 'manage' students depending on what they can and cannot do. On top of that you have to teach them why. When good relations are established, students trust you as a caring teacher and listen to you more willingly. I try to get close to naughty students because they need more talk. I believe they can be helped if you know them more intimately. Any tips for fellow principals? Be open to the advice of others but be true to your own principles.