International school focuses on developing students holistically

By Phat Dat   July 23, 2020 | 05:00 pm PT
Acknowledging that study should not only focus on internationally recognized qualifications, Renaissance International School Saigon seeks to ensure each student has the opportunity to fully grow and thrive.

A quick internet search of inspirational quotes will often remind us that "If you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is useless"; or that "If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

It is likely we understand and agree with the point these proverbs are trying to make. Yet, in many cases, children still find themselves being judged purely on academic performance; and in some cases, learning how to pass the test is prioritized over the development of other transferable skills.

Fortunately, this is not the case in every school. Students at Renaissance International School Saigon follow a program of study that not only results in internationally recognized qualifications (IGCSE and IB) but ensures individual characters have the opportunity to thrive, and that a range of life-essential, transferable skills are developed along the way.

"Our approach to academics is rigorous, we look at a student’s development as a whole," said Chantal Kruger, EAL teacher and Round Square Coordinator at Renaissance. "We focus on developing non-academic traits such as communication skills, tenacity and courage, because we know it is a combination of these things that students need to be successful."

Children must be taught how to think, not what to think

The message in the proverbs may be simple; the faculty at Renaissance, however, knows it takes time to build confidence and independent thinking.

"It can be quite difficult when you first start, to get students to think for themselves," explained Laura Leat, secondary Drama and Theatre teacher. "The fear of not having the correct answer needs breaking down before students start to realize it is good to share their own ideas."

"Teachers here are all very experienced and know we need to play the long game," added Conor Gannon, secondary teacher of Physics and Science. "We know where we want students to be by the end, so we start training them in the necessary skills quite early. Skills that are not necessarily needed right away, are introduced in Key Stage 3 and 4 so they are familiar by the time they get to IB level. We build literacy in skills they are going to need for many years to come."

Passionate and dedicated faculty members are quick to point out the importance of co-working across subjects to ensure students are engaged with their studies and to enhance their learning experience.

Passionate and dedicated faculty members are quick to point out the importance of co-working across subjects to ensure students are engaged with their studies and to enhance their learning experience.

"The curriculum at some schools restricts teachers but here, particularly in Key Stage 3, we can look at things differently. We look for the connections and find the best way to deliver learning objectives," said Key Stage 3 leader and English Teacher, Stephen Isaacs.

"Within KS3 we have flexibility with the material. Our challenge is to make things interesting for students whilst introducing concepts and ideas they will need to understand later in life."

Doing things differently leads to something exceptional

Having such a flexible and creative approach to the curriculum means a typical day at Renaissance can be quite different from the school days parents may remember.

"We have fantastic facilities," said Jane Gallurt, secondary Art and Design teacher, "so we can explore areas students may otherwise not get the chance to. We’ve got a Mac suite, sewing machines, laser cutters, we’re learning Photoshop, we have a fantastic theater, there’s just so much."

Renaissance provides all supplements so that the teachers and students can entirely develop their creativity.

Renaissance provides all supplements so teachers and students can boost their creativity.

These resources are vital in allowing students to tie together what they have learnt. Interdisciplinary activities such as the Key Stage 3 project combine what students have learnt in Design and Technology, English, Art, Drama and Modern Language classes within a theme. This year, collaboration between departments culminated in a Balinese themed production, complete with puppets and masks.

Alone we are smart, together we are brilliant!

Gannon said smaller schools like Renaissance naturally produce more personal connections, but he has "never known a school where students make friends from different year groups so often".

The staff credit and praise the close-knit nature of the students.

The staff credit and praise the close-knit nature of the students.

Perhaps these bonds are a result of the Key Stage 3 trip that takes place at the start of each year. With the goal of introducing the academic year and welcoming new students into the fold, faculty and students spend a few days away taking part in team building activities.

Perhaps it is something else. With happiness and respect for all at the core of the Renaissance mission statement, students and faculty strive to support each other every step of the way. "It’s a joy to teach at this school," Gallurt said, "the students really are encouraging to each other... It really is a family school."

Fully accredited by the Council of International Schools, the Renaissance International School Saigon provides a dynamic curriculum for students from two years old to 18 years old, including the prestigious IB Diploma Programme. The school is currently offering an IB scholarship of up to 80 percent for any excellent students interested in its program and waive of Registartion Fee for its Key Stage 3 students.

For more information please visit website.

Hotline: (028) 37733171.

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