The priority to remain abreast of school news and developments in their regions puts our Search Associates constantly on the move! They travel to consult with and support our member schools, and they travel so they can let our candidates know about the best and brightest international schools in the world. For the past several months, Senior Associate Ray Sparks has been visiting schools in Bangkok, Hong Kong, and Cambodia, and he is happy to share his observations about them.
Ray is the fair organizer for Search Leadership Fair, held this year at NIST International School in Bangkok. Naturally, his tour began there. This centrally located International Baccalaureate (IB) World School in the heart of Bangkok boasts fantastic facilities for students and staff, and for hosting the fair as well as other conferences.
Next on Ray’s itinerary was a visit to Early Learning Center. Nestled amongst the skyscrapers in the middle of Bangkok off Sukhumvit Road, this unique school is one of three campuses located in and around Bangkok. Built in the traditional Thai architectural style, Early Learning Center follows the Reggio Emilia project-based curriculum. Teachers who thrive on team building and thinking “outside the box” work well there. In operation for over twenty years, this school is headed by Founding Director Jacqueline Alexander-Piazza.
Another structurally interesting school can be found at the end of Sukhumvit Road. There the stunning campus of Berkeley International School greets visitors with its castle-like entrance. “There is something magical about this school,” says Ray. Beyond the entrance, one encounters a circular area that leads towards open space and then to the school’s 25-meter pool, surrounded by beautifully-covered seating areas.
Ray's final stop, just outside the heart of Bangkok, was Concordian International School. This trilingual, IB World School has greatly expanded over the last few years. The new facilities have increased students’ academic and sports opportunities. One example: an episode of Top Chef Thailand was filmed in the new, state-of-the-art Home Economics kitchen!
From Bangkok, Ray flew to Hong Kong to rekindle old relationships and create new ones. He caught up with Independent Schools Foundation Academy Head of School Dr. Malcolm Pritchard, who has maintained a long and supportive relationship with Search Associates (SEARCH). This very progressive, bilingual academy delivers a strong IB curriculum.
Ray also stopped in at Victoria Shanghai Academy (VSA), another Hong Kong school long associated with SEARCH. Established in 1965, VSA is a bilingual IB World School, right near Aberdeen Harbour. High School Principal Chris Coates greeted Ray warmly.
At Canadian International School Hong Kong (CISHK), overlooking Aberdeen Harbour, Ray visited with outgoing Head of School David Baird, who will be retiring from international education. This IB World School offers all three programmes. Its high school also offers the Ontario School Secondary Diploma, vital for Canadian students.
Following was a call on the well-established Hong Kong International School (HKIS), overlooking Repulse Bay. There, Ray met with Deputy HOS Don Drake. This already lovely school has expanded in size and facilities! HKIS delivers the U.S. Common Core, and an array of Advanced Placement offerings in the upper levels.
Ray also enjoyed catching up with Dr. Cheok Lee (pictured below), Head of Human Resources for Yew Chung Educational Foundation, which comprises a number of international schools, including some in Hong Kong. A long-time supporter of Search Associates, Lee shared all the school news with Ray!
Then it was time to visit Stamford American School Hong Kong, which recently became a member of SEARCH,. This school offers the IB Primary and Middle Years Programmes, along with the U.S. Common Core plus Standards. Stamford American is a sister school to Stamford American International School in Singapore. Ray was pleased to meet with Head of School Dr. Karri Dietz.
The flurry of Hong Kong school visits over, three schools in Cambodia awaited him. Founded in 1989, International School Phnom Penh (ISPP) is the country’s first international school, now celebrating its fifth year at its new campus! This not-for-profit school is a leader in international education with its IB World Programme and authorization from both Council of International Schools and Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). Head of School Barry Sutherland has been a long time supporter of SEARCH.
Outside Phnom Penh, Ray took great pleasure visiting Northbridge International School (NIS), a school that has expanded its facilities tremendously over its 20 green acres since Ray’s first visit in 2005. NIS is a full IB World School also accredited by WASC.
Another recent member of SEARCH, Canadian International School Phnom Penh (CISPP), currently enrolls 500 students Grades K-8, with a new grade added each year. CISPP follows the Alberta, Canada curriculum and is in the process of applying to become an IB Diploma Programme school. Head of School Jason Caruana, along with two students, showed Ray around the new and expanding school.
His Asia tour at its end, Ray pauses to reflect:
I have enjoyed the opportunity to be back visiting some of our long-time and new SEARCH member schools. I was welcomed by old friends, and administrators whom I met for the first time . . . All of these excellent international schools offer a wealth of information about themselves on our SEARCH website.