Samui Wining & Dining
FORWARD THINKING
Here’s what 2014 has in store for the International School of Samui.


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The International School of Samui (ISS) has become synonymous with outstanding education and exceptional staff. This year, there’s a strong focus on the curriculum itself, adding yet more vibrancy to the already diverse subjects and extra-curricular activities and encouraging the children to be excited about learning.

        How does ISS do this? By introducing concepts such as ‘super learning days’, where the focus for a day – and sometimes even a week – is on one particular subject, featuring an itinerary packed with fun yet educational activities to boost the children’s interest in a subject. This year, there’ll be ‘World Book Day’, where the children are encouraged to appreciate books, both fiction and non-fiction and discover the joys of reading in a world dominated by electronic communication. Children dress up as their favourite character from a book and are immersed in the wonderful world of literature. Other such days planned throughout the year include Science Day, which will make full use of both the primary and senior school’s well-equipped laboratories, as well as History Day.

        During the last academic year, ISS introduced their first-ever ‘Art Week’ that allowed all pupils from Kindergarten to Senior School to participate. The programme allowed a high level of flexibility, as pupils could sign up for courses and workshops that interested them, and allowed them to venture into mediums they may not have had exposure to before. Projects included photography, puppet-making, sculpture, wall-painting, magazine-making, decoupage, mosaictiling, weaving, cartoon-drawing and floristry, to mention but a few. Teachers, volunteer parents and specialists guided the children through their chosen projects and helped them to create pieces from start to finish, ending in an exhibition of their work at the end of the week. Due to the success of Art Week, it’s been confirmed that this year, there’ll be another Art Week, or a ‘Healthy Living Week’, either of which promise a week of fun events.

         Now while subjects like science, history and geography are important, times have changed since many of us were at school, and it’s a reality that today’s school leavers need to be equipped with business skills to have a chance in a competitive job market. In order to hone the children’s entrepreneurial skills, ISS hosts ‘Business Enterprise Week’, which involves all the children from Year One right through to the Sixth Form. Seniors mentor the primary students, passing on their skills learned in previous years, covering all aspects of running a business, from conceptualising a product, to costing and sales and marketing. The week ends with a market day, where each class can sell the products they created, and proceeds go to charity.

          ISS believes in teaching its pupils the importance of contributing not only money, but time to charities, as well as giving back to the community. This is all part of developing well-rounded children who are compassionate and understanding. The school is involved in several charitable and fund-raising projects, both close to home and further afield. The Parent Teacher Association committee was responsible for a book drive, towards the end of 2013, to collect English books for a local temple school, Wat Santi, in Thong Krut. More than 200 books were collected to start the school’s English library, and ISS will continue to support Wat Santi with similar projects in 2014.

          A project close to the hearts of all at ISS is the Samui Special Needs School, and this worthy cause has been the focus of several projects. One of these was the ‘Band Together Project’, an initiative started by the Senior School and Sixth Form students. The students decided to make a charity CD, to raise the profile of the Special Needs School and its issues, as well as raise funds. They contacted local musicians who gave their support in the form of their time and talent, and with the help of music teacher, Mr Gubbins (known affectionately by his students as ‘Dan Dan the Music Man), they produced the ‘Stand by Me’ single. The students then designed a cover in the style of a Christmas card and it was put on sale at the ISS Christmas Walking Street Market. In total, around 150 singles were sold and 25,000 baht was raised.

          When a devastating typhoon hit the Philippines towards the end of 2013, the Senior School students, on their own initiative, and assisted by teacher, Karen Ladd, set up a stall selling delicious treats at the Fisherman’s Village Walking Street, and donated the takings to this disaster fund. Children were also allowed to attend school in casual attire, forgetting uniforms for a day and dressing in the colours of the Philippines’ flag, for a donation of 100 baht per child. These initiatives raised over 42,000 baht for typhoon victims.

          On the back of these successes, the Sixth Form students have decided on a more ambitious fund-raising for 2014, and are going to take up the challenge of a charity cycle ride to Phuket. The route will consist mainly of off-road tracks and paths, leaving Samui on the 16th June, and arriving in Phuket on 24th June. The students will no doubt be tired and sore, but hopefully they will arrive in Phuket with a great sense of achievement, and with more money raised for charitable causes. Currently the students are training hard on a brand-new set of mountain bikes, so if you see them around the island, please give them a bit of encouragement!

          ISS will continue to host its popular ‘mother and toddler’ mornings, open to all mums on Samui. It’s a great way to meet other mums, let children socialise in the soft play area, and have a chat over a cup of coffee. and high quality of facilities, this means that pupils graduating from ISS are well equipped to apply to any international university. Now a child can begin their school life as a toddler at ISS, and carry on right through to taking their A-levels in this creative and supportive learning environment.

          The ‘Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award’ aims at building well-rounded young citizens. This international arm of the British ‘Duke of Edinburgh’s Award’ (DofE) is a leading youth charity that gives young people the chance to develop skills for work and life, fulfil their potential and ultimately have a brighter future. Young adults from the age of 14 can sign up for either the bronze, silver or gold award, which differ in timeframe as well as degree of difficulty and workload. But whichever they choose will greatly enhance their résumé or CV, and therefore employment opportunities, and counts strongly towards entrance into university. The awards are divided into different sections, including volunteer work, learning new skills, physical training, expeditions, and for the gold, also a ‘residential’ section which involves spending five days away from home on a shared activity. What’s great about this youth programme is that each individual can tailor it to suit their likes and interests. Within each category participants can choose what to volunteer for, what physical activities to partake in, what new skills to learn and what expeditions to join. ISS encourages its senior school students to sign up for the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, and has this as one of their extra-curricular activities.

          But it’s not only the senior school that’s expanding, and since the start of the 2013/2014 academic year, within the primary school, Years One to Six have two classes per year group. Whilst the classes in each year group consist of mixed academic abilities, within the core subjects of mathematics and literacy, students are streamed by ability. Thus giving more attention to both advanced and struggling students, and allowing for a more personalised learning experience.

          So it seems that the International School of Samui is on a steady path of growth to success with now over 300 students, and is a factor in the decision of many families deciding to make the island their home. More and more Thai families who own businesses on Samui are also choosing to keep their children on the island, rather than sending them to boarding school in Bangkok. Without ISS, Samui might have lost some of its most prominent expat and local families – so the school is, indeed, making a valuable contribution to the island.

          

 Rosanne Turner


 


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