After many years of discussion, planning, and development, Yokohama International School (YIS) is delighted to be opening the doors of their new facility to students on January 12, 2022. YIS Administration has felt privileged to collaborate with the firm Kengo Kuma & Associates (KKAA). Yokohama native Kuma-san is one of the world’s leading architects, particularly well-known for his use of wood and other natural materials, elements that have been incorporated into the school’s new campus. YIS Head of School Craig Coutts says,
The goal of the design was to make every space a learning space and to retain and enhance the warm sense of community that people have when walking into our school now. Following on from this direction will be the creation of multiple open hub spaces that allow learning to flow flexibly in and out of classrooms as well as larger common spaces—both inside and outside—for community interaction.
YIS has been in its current facility since its founding in 1924! The school has organized special events throughout the fall and winter to not only celebrate the school’s history while bidding it “a proper farewell” but also to celebrate completion of the new campus.
Only one mile from its current site, the new YIS campus sits next to the Honmoku Front shopping complex and behind the Yamate police station. Fifty percent larger than the soon-to-be former campus, the new YIS site accommodates a full-size athletic field in addition to classroom buildings: a four-story North Building housing the library, cafeteria, performing arts center, and most of the classroom areas and administrative offices and the three-story South Building that houses the Early Learning Center and PE facilities, which include a double gymnasium and a 25-meter, indoor swimming pool. The total floor area within the two buildings is also about 50% larger than the nine buildings that comprise the current campus.
Other outstanding aspects include larger, more flexible learning spaces, wheelchair accessibility everywhere, wood paneling and natural light features, energy efficient low emissivity glass and LED lighting, a 360-panel solar energy system that will save 51 metric tons of CO2 per year, and a Japanese-themed multipurpose space—complemented by a Japanese ornamental garden—to host the school’s Japanese culture program. In support of the visual and performing arts, YIS has constructed an integrated performing arts center with a 411-seat auditorium, fully-equipped and soundproofed; black-box drama teaching and performance spaces; larger music rooms; and practice rooms—all in close proximity to one other. Additionally, the center is home to a studio-style, Art & Design area with expanded workshop space to accommodate a wider range of creative endeavors and a kiln room with a front-loading electric kiln for the YIS Ceramics Program.
Accredited by both the Council of International Schools and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, YIS currently enrolls 661 pre-K-12 students of 43 nationalities! The school delivers the Reggio Emilia Program for the early years, followed by the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years, Middle Years, and Diploma Programmes. Of its 96-member teaching staff, 16 of its educators are Japanese.
After school programs at YIS run from 3:15 to 4 p.m. several days a week for the elementary school program (ESA). Secondary students usually participate from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., with occasional extended or before-school hours.
The ESA program includes a wide range of sporting, games, music, art, dance and recreational activities for students in kindergarten through Grade 5. Some of these choices include Lego Club, Drone Coding, Make & Create, Student Council, Card & Board Games, Gardening Club, Japanese Calligraphy, Chowa Yearbook, and more. Students specifically interested in the arts may participate in Choir, Drama Club, Graffiti and Cartoon Drawing, Guitar, Japanese Traditional Dance, Nature Sketching, String Ensemble, Nature Sketching, Koto Ensemble, Young Artists Group, and more.
At the secondary level, a great many after-school choices of performing and visual arts are offered: Art Club, Photography Club, Digital Illustration, Dance Company, Latin Dance, Drama, Jazz Band, Choir, Rock School, Wind Ensemble, and MS/HS String Ensemble.
A distinctive musical offering at YIS is its Japanese music program, which focuses on the koto—a stringed harp-like instrument. Offered to students from Grades 4 and up, the study of koto fosters an understanding and appreciation of traditional Japanese music. The YIS koto ensemble has performed at concert halls, temples and other venues throughout Japan and overseas. Ensembles and soloists both have been awarded prizes in several key national music competitions.
The YIS Athletics ethos centers on fun and inclusion while, at the same time, introducing students to the basics of sportsmanship, skill development, and teamwork. Throughout the seasons, middle school students may pursue the following: soccer, badminton, baseball, field hockey, basketball, cross-country, and girls’ volleyball. High school students may take part in volleyball, cross-country, tennis, basketball, girls’ field hockey, soccer, and badminton.
The school is a member of several associations, two domestic and one international. Middle school and high school teams both take part in most events within the greater Tokyo area as part of the KPASSP league. High school athletes also compete as members of the WJAA league as well as in AISA league events with schools in Japan and Korea.
YIS prides itself on bringing the classroom into everyday life with intellectual, extracurricular activities such as LGBTQ Awareness, Brainbowl, Environment Club, Library Council, Mental Health Awareness Club, Chowa Yearbook, YIS Magazine, YIS Maker Club, YIS East & West Board Games, Model United Nations, and much more.
YIS prefers to hire certified and experienced teachers, including teaching couples. Teachers need to hold an academic degree but not necessarily in the subject they will be teaching. Those up to the age of 65 may obtain a work visa.
The benefits package includes a competitive (taxed) salary along with allowances for moving, settling-in, and monthly housing. Airfare for arrival and departure, for the teacher and dependents, is provided at the beginning and end of each two-year contract with an annual allowance for home leave. While tuition for dependents is free, the parents are subject to a Scholarship Tax. Employees are required to join the national pension scheme, which is co-funded by the school. Additionally, the school offers significant professional development opportunities but also budgets for personal professional development choices for all staff. Local health insurance is provided, with the employee paying a percentage, along with an international health insurance, offered at a significantly subsidized rate. The cost of living in Japan is a lot lower than people think, so there is an opportunity to save!
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Please note: The information presented about this school was valid on the date published. This information may change, and the most up-to-date information can be found on the school profile.