The top priority for Singapore American School (SAS) is always its community.
When the COVID-19 pandemic swept over Asia, the independent, co-educational day school swiftly took steps to ensure the safety and wellbeing of its students, staff and parents. Learning moved online; comprehensive health and safety measures were issued for essential staff remaining on campus.
Throughout their online lessons, SAS teachers continued to encourage the use of imagination to solve problems, data to inform decisions and communication to cross cultural barriers.
SAS Superintendent Tom Boasberg said, “The challenges we are living with make it even more imperative that education focus not just on academics, but on character as well. By developing ethical and resilient character traits, students will have the strength to deal with both the setbacks and the opportunities of the 21st century.”
Boasberg believes Singapore American School has been successful in this aspect. With personalised learning and myriad course offerings, SAS pushes students to develop their individual talents and passions in ways that prepare them to embrace the possibilities of the future.
SAS education supports students’ social and emotional needs
According to Boasberg, teachers fill its littlest learners’ days with wonder, discovery, creativity, and excitement. “When our Early Learning Center students explore the school’s eco-garden, create a papier-mâché volcano, or watch a caterpillar turn into a butterfly, they discover that their interests and questions can guide their learning,” he said. The Early Learning Center’s emphasis on concept-based and inquiry-driven learning means teachers design lessons and activities around the interests of their students.
In Elementary School (kindergarten to fifth grade), students sharpen their social and emotional development when they join experiential learning activities outside the classroom — like field trips and community service — and with the help of proactive, child-centred counsellors. Another initiative SAS is proud of is its Chinese language and culture immersion programme as it combines both academic and soft skills. Students not only work towards fluency, but towards becoming engaged global citizens.
“Our elementary school students learn to assess their own progress through feedback from their teachers, self-reflection, and sharing with their parents during student-led conferences. They learn to take risks, learn from failure, and try again in a supportive and accepting community,” said Boasberg.
Middle School students are placed in learning communities, each with an interdisciplinary team of teachers. These groups encourage personal connections with peers and faculty during the challenging early adolescent years. Students start each year by building friendships and developing trust with peers and teachers through regional Classroom Without Walls (CWW) trips.
“Throughout the Middle School grades, we work to create caring communities to ensure that each student feels confident and supported socially, emotionally, and academically,” explains Boasberg.
Core academic courses are complemented by a wide selection of elective courses. From drama to dance and information technology, each elective is a chance to extend their learning and to pursue individual passions. Further opportunities for leadership and service are provided as well to develop a sense of responsibility and care for the SAS community. Grade 8 student Olivia M. said, “My teachers have taught me many life lessons from cultural knowledge to leadership responsibilities through the many programmes available.”
As the Middle School years are transition periods noted with excitement and challenges, having counsellors and a school psychologist makes a positive difference to the social, emotional, and educational needs of children. An integral part of SAS, counsellors are matched with students for three-year cycles to provide personal support and facilitate the building emotional competencies.
In High School, every student can find courses that excite, inspire, and challenge them, thanks to Singapore American School’s wide array of course offerings. In each discipline, there are numerous courses to select from, encouraging exploration of new subjects while also giving those with developed interests avenues to extend their expertise. Technology classes, arts electives, a co-crediting partnership with Syracuse University, and innovative courses like Catalyst and Quest complement the more traditional academic college-preparatory course of study.
For students who want to stand out on their college applications, SAS offers 25 Advance Advanced Placement (AP) courses and the AP Capstone Diploma programme. These are more difficult than standard classes but shows an aptitude for learning and problem-solving.
Over the last four years, SAS has also developed an Advanced Topic (AT) suite of courses that include entrepreneurship, math modelling, performing arts, urban studies and more. Teachers who are experts in their subjects propose AT course curricula and then partner with university colleagues around the world to develop these college-level courses. These courses engage with real-world problems and further prepare student for challenging college classes.
Social emotional wellness continues to be stressed during the high school years. Each student is placed in a twelve-student advisory class that acts as a small, supportive community within the larger grade and division. Advisories meet twice a week, and students stay with their faculty advisor year-to-year. A personal academic counsellor also monitors their academic progress and provide support in extracurricular activities, personal relationships, workloads, and making positive choices. Midway through high school, students are also partnered with a designated college counsellor, who guides them in the college selection and application process.
At this established international school, support is available at every level. Let your child find their true selves and see how far they can go at SAS. Find out more here.