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| EDUCATION

BEHIND THE SCENES OF TASIS THE AMERICAN SCHOOL IN SWITZERLAND

Tasis has been voted one of the Best Schools In The World year after year. Mr Bill Eichner, Director of Admissions, talks to our Editor Dina Aletras, on why the School is a hub of excellence.

You have been at TASIS for many years what lead you to join and stay on as Director of Admissions. I joined TASIS over 30 years ago, in 1983, as an art history teacher. I had been teaching in Florence for several years, but I knew of TASIS and had met Mrs Fleming, the Founder. I jumped at the chance to work for her, and teaching art history at TASIS in those days was a dream job. I knew of no other high school that had such a commitment to the subject, and as part of my course I traveled with my students to Rome, Paris, Florence and Venice. I taught for many years and served as the Academic Dean for a decade and then in the late ‘90s became the Director of Admissions. For me, the students have always been the most fascinating aspect of TASIS, and serving as Director of Admissions gives me a great opportunity to help shape the student population.

What school did you attend growing up. I grew up in the suburbs of American cities: New York, Chicago, and finally Cincinnati where I graduated from Indian Hill High School. It was, and still is, a highly ranked, competitive public school, but it wasn’t very inspiring for me. I really should have attended a boarding school, and part of what attracted me to TASIS as a teacher was realizing what amazing learning and teaching opportunities arise in boarding schools. Strong classroom academics are fundamental, but so much learning happens outside the class day at TASIS. As one of our seniors just said in a commencement speech: TASIS is more than a school; it’s a life style. Teachers and students are accustomed to interacting all day, and long after classes are over. I could have used that kind on interaction with adults when I was a teenager.

Why attend TASIS? When a student attends TASIS they join a community full of promise and opportunity. Beyond a challenging American and International Baccalaureate curriculum, TASIS seeks to prepare students as confident and creative collaborators, fully prepared to succeed in college and beyond. Through opportunities in leadership, service, arts, sports and travel, our students find interests and passions that guide them through their lives. Our students also establish enduring friendships.

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What advice do you find yourself commonly telling applicants who gain interviews but are ultimately rejected? How has the flow of applications been to your school globally? With the goal of creating an exciting learning community with students from a variety of background and with a wide range of interests and talents, we keep careful statistics on enrollment and application trends. Last year we accepted 68% of our applicants, which is fairly typical. First we review a students’ academic background to be sure TASIS is a good match for their educational needs and that we can successfully prepare them for competitive university entry. When I meet with a student I’m looking for someone full of curiosity, who will be a good friend to others, and fully participate in the School community. As an American school, we attract a higher percentage of Americans than other boarding schools in Europe, but still that adds up to only 23% of our student body. This year 59 nationalities are represented in the School. Other prominent nationalities are Italian, given our location, followed by Russian, Brazilian and Turkish.

Why educate your child/children in Switzerland, what are the attractions? We often say that TASIS represents the best of American education with the best of Swiss security and European culture. Switzerland is such an attractive destination not only because it is beautiful and safe, but it is also host to many international institutions. Private schools in Switzerland are truly international, and the culture of the schools are not dominated by a single nationality.

Your summer programs have students attending from around the world. What does TASIS offer throughout these camps? Participating in one of our summer programs is a great way to be introduced to TASIS. We offer boarding and day programs at the elementary, middle and high school level, and our curriculum extends far beyond language. We offer courses in IB Preparation and a wide range of arts, including Architecture & Design, Digital Film Making, Textile & Fashion Design, and Musical Theatre. Nearly 800 students participate in one of our 3 or 4-week sessions,

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