In this first instalment of a regular series by Singapore American School (SAS) on how to design a school, Superintendent TOM BOASBERG takes us through building a community and understanding who you serve.
SAS is currently undergoing a complete redesign and major upgrade of its campus in Woodlands. There are new dining, athletic and swim facilities, and the brand new elementary school building is scheduled to open in 2024. But, to SAS, a school is more than just a building.
Describe your school in one sentence.
I would say, “Singapore American School is a non-selective, non-profit, independent, American educational system, international school – with high aspirations of extraordinary care, excellence, and possibilities for our students.”
What does it mean to be an independent and non-profit school?
Being an independent school means we have the flexibility to look at best practices from around the world and to empower our educators to innovate.
Our energies are focused on the needs of our students and innovating to better meet those needs. This has led to creative programmes like our Chinese Immersion programme in elementary school and our self-directed Catalyst programme for each of our graduating seniors. This flexibility also led to the expansion of our unique Advanced Studies programme where high school students now have access to over 40 college-level courses – both traditional Advanced Placement courses and more in-depth, college-level Advanced Topics courses.
As a non-profit organisation, 100 percent of the money paid in tuition and fees goes directly into the student experience. This gives us the resources to attract and retain the most talented educators and to offer Singapore American School students an exceptional range of experiences.
Why have you chosen to be a non-selective school?
Being non-selective means we don’t screen for academic level in admitting students; we welcome a diverse range of learners to our community. We believe our diversity is one of our greatest strengths and one of the most powerful forms of learning for our students – both now and for their futures.
How does Singapore American School balance the American and international parts of its identity?
We value the best of the American educational system approach – a focus on critical thinking, creativity, problem-solving, character development, learning both inside and outside the classroom, and a deep belief in and respect for the potential of every student. We use American educational system academic standards, and our 40-plus college-level courses are modelled on academic expectations at US colleges and universities.
Our daily world language and Chinese Immersion programmes, advanced social studies and cultural classes, along with our classroom without walls and interim semester trips, help provide our students a rich set of international perspectives.
With over 60 different nationalities represented at SAS, we have a unique opportunity to ensure that students learn from a diversity of cultures, beliefs, backgrounds and perspectives.
How does your identity influence the work you do each day and the design for your new and upcoming buildings?
When you understand who you serve, you can create an experience tailored to their needs. Our new, highly sustainable buildings will help drive our individualised approach to learning. They will help provide an exceptional range of opportunities inside and outside the classroom. And, they will promote communication, collaboration and the building of community in all aspects of the student’s experience. A beautiful building is nothing without the students and educators who bring it to life.
Singapore American School is at 40 Woodlands Street 51.
6363 3403 | sas.edu.sg
This article first appeared in the November 2022 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!
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