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REGGIO EMILIA-INSPIRED CURRICULUM SHAPES OUR YOUNGEST LEARNERS
On the cover When photographer and Nikon ambassador Scott Woodward flipped the switch, it took four-year-old Jace G. one try to nail his handstand and dive into a performance filled with fun poses, moves, and expressions! The shoot recreated one of our early learning center activities, where light and shadow provide endless possibilities for excited and curious students. Read more about our Reggio Emilia-inspired approach on page 9.
Editorial team Kyle Aldous Xin Tian Koh Vanessa Spier
Design team Haziq Hairoman Amos Ong
Communications interns Tara Aggarwal, Class of 2017 Sandhya Bala, Class of 2017 Riya Baphna, Class of 2017 Ana Chavez, Class of 2017 Clara Fong, Class of 2017 Roopal Kondepudi, Class of 2017
ÂŠ 2016 Singapore American School All rights reserved.
Journeys mag azine and Crossroads m agazine have SASâ€™s new qu merged! arterly Journe ys magazine will have man y of the sam e you have co me to love ov features er the years, and many ne w ones as w ell. Donâ€™t want to receive the m agazine in pr Just email co int? mmunicatio ns @sas.edu.sg if you only w ant to read Journeys on line.
From Passion to Purpose
Classroom Without Walls
Captivating Classrooms: Barbara Harvey
Five Minutes with Jemma Hooykaas
Alumni Stories: Blair Berg
Then and Now: Mr. Ho and the Hoe Brothers
Alumni Stories: Niket Desai
Canvas and Curtains
Name That Teacher
Word on the Street
Grit or Quit?
The Cost of Comparison
By D r. C H I P K I M B A L L Superintendent This is a pivot year for Singapore American School. After spending over three years researching, visioning, planning, and putting infrastructure in place to create a personalized education for each student, we have begun to pivot from conception to implementation. Many of the pivots we are making— from standardization to learning standards for kids; from a system of mass production to personalization; from frenetic to focused; and from content coverage to deep work—will continue to put Singapore American School on the path to realizing our vision of being a world leader in education, cultivating exceptional thinkers, prepared for the future. Yet there is one more pivot perhaps more personally meaningful in our students’ lives, and that is the pivot from passion to purpose. Research on millennials bears out the need to find purpose. The business world is finding that youth are looking for significance early in their careers and choosing employers that share their personal values. And anecdotally, I hear more and more stories about young professionals who aren’t finding meaning in their work and leave their jobs to pursue their passion by traveling the world, writing, or spending time doing something they are interested in. Yet so often, after a year of discovery, they find that it isn’t actually passion that they’ve been looking for, it is purpose.
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PURPOSE This might come as a surprise, because we hear so much about, and I’ve personally talked about creating opportunities for our students to explore their interests and pursue their passions. There is certainly a place for that, and I deeply believe learning is far more engaging and meaningful when students are able to study and learn through an interest. Exploring interests and pursuing passions will unquestionably continue to be a pillar of creating a culture of possibilities at SAS. But it doesn’t end there. As humans, our deepest satisfaction comes from feeling that our lives are filled with purpose. Passion, while interesting and worthwhile for sure, can be a self-centered pursuit. Purpose, on the other hand, is others-centered, often expressed as believing that we have a role in this world that is bigger than ourselves. Ultimately, we aim to prepare students to think beyond themselves to how they can contribute to their community and the world at large. Passions can and should evolve to shape students’ purpose. For me, purpose was found in part by a belief that relationships and even single interactions can change the trajectory of a person’s life. I do this work because I believe that every conversation I have, every relationship I build, and every strategy we develop has the potential to have an impact on kids.
A need in the world/target/user
YOur SKILLs/Gifting What skills do people compliment you on that come naturally to you? Think beyond the resume.
What is to be addressed? What keeps you up at night or makes you angry that not more is being done about it?
What you love to do
How would you spend your time if you had no other responsibilities?
I can think of hundreds of small moments that inspired me, motivated me, opened me to new possibilities. It was ultimately a sense of purpose that led me to SAS. And there is nothing I want more than to help kids find their purpose and reach their potential. Instead of simply asking what students are interested in, we can also ask what would give them meaning and purpose, and what impact they would like to make on others. Knowing what they want in life and not just what others expect is a start. So how do we do that? Stanford University’s d.school, a model for some of the learning we have introduced at SAS, created the graphic above as a way to guide students toward finding purpose. It asks students to identify what a student is good at, what they love to do, and what the world needs. The intersection of those three points is a great starting point to finding purpose. Our recently launched Quest program for seniors had students discover their purpose by synthesizing what they love, what they are good at, what they could be paid for, and what the world needs. This purpose was then used to guide discussions about senior projects. What a great way to begin a year of immersive, personalized project-based learning! I am not suggesting that our students need to know what they will do with their lives or what their purpose is by the time they graduate high school.
That often doesn’t happen until our twenties or beyond. Instead they can start by asking themselves what they should do with their time. All the while, they can continue to explore opportunities, learn about themselves, and change course. But the best way to begin is to begin: thinking of others, spending a few hours on a solution or a cause, and then devoting more time as they find the significance of what they are doing. I’ve heard from countless graduates that our clubs provided a great foundation for finding work that was both meaningful for self, and consequential to the world. Finding a student’s passions, and ultimately purpose, might require trial and error, but it could be the difference between finding a career and finding a calling. Understanding one’s personal vision for the world and how their work could contribute to realizing that vision—or finding what is worthy to devote their lives to—could make the difference that allows our kids to live up to their full potential. Our students already demonstrate a deep care for others and uphold values that will make our world a better place. Our school is increasingly creating opportunities for students to learn through their interests and find meaning through the impact they have on others. I’m proud that our students are indeed our future leaders—they give me great hope every day. F A L L
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You will be hard-pressed to find a time where Barbara Harveyâ€™s art studio is not filled with students. In her thirteenth year at SAS, she has a reputation for having an open door and a knack for connecting with whoever walks through it. The studio is home to everyone from casual artists to almost 60 AP art students each year.
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Clean it up! Rinse your brushes, wash your hands, and get ready to head out for the day.
Meet Adam, Eve, and Jack Sparrow, our models-in-residence.
Light it up and let your artwork shine using the photo studios. Bring your masterpiece here to capture the perfect photo to keep, send to family, or to the AP board.
Power up with the drop down outlets hanging all around the room.
Watercolors, acrylics, oils, and more! If you are searching for the perfect color, medium, or toolâ€” look no further.
Names to remember: all graduating seniors create their golden ticket with their university and graduating year to continue to build a network and community.
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Feeling inspired to replicate a Mr. Hoe classic at home? Find the full recipe at www.sas.edu.sg/recipe.
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By S A N D H YA B A L A A N D C L A R A F O N G Communications Interns
Originally from the small town of Alexandra in New Zealand, SAS third grade teacher Jemma Hooykaas has taught all around the world and has been at SAS for nine years. She’s also a boxing enthusiast and a summer semester jack-of-all-trades! What’s your favorite aspect of teaching third graders? We heard that you’re a boxer! Why did you decide to take up the sport and what you enjoy about it? They are so curious and kind. They are open books and I learn so much about them as they verbalize I was a boxer! These days I enjoy physical activities their thinking. They shine in so many areas—I get to with less pain. I started boxing when I lived in the see the whole student all day and their growth over Philippines, continued in Bahrain, and dabbled the year. in it here in Singapore. When I saw fellow SAS teacher Ursula Pong fight in her white-collar boxing In all the places you have lived, what have some of event, I was intrigued. A few years later, I had the your most memorable experiences been? opportunity to compete myself. In the Philippines, my school had a scuba club and we walked five minutes down the road each weekend to an amazing beach to explore wrecks and walls together. It’s amazing that I could do that as part of my teaching job. In Bahrain, our school went through four bomb scares in one semester. We had to drop everything, gather our classes, and run to the nearest school across the road. Once, we had to evacuate our school early in the morning, and we were unable to go back to collect bags, phones, and keys until the next afternoon! At SAS, being involved in fifth grade Telunas trips over the years was magic. In what areas do you help out during our summer semester? I co-teach the summer semester Curiosity class for third to fifth grade and have the privilege of helping students go further with any topic they are interested in. I’ve helped bake, create tables, code, sew, and 3D print! Every student has vastly different interests.
Boxing makes you 100 percent focused. Its all-round physicality and the fact that you have to combine footwork, speed, strength, and punch combinations while dodging an opponent doing the same thing felt impossible most days, and the rare moments they all came together were fantastic. Did you play any sports when you were growing up? I dabbled in hockey, netball, and ice-skating, but I was crippled for years with back and hip problems. I spent a year on crutches and five years in different braces. I was in and out of hospital with different surgeries. I found sports and physical activity later on in life, which keeps me motivated to continue. Any day I can move feels like a gift. Where’s your favorite place on campus? My favorite place is the elementary school library— how could anyone not want to read in a space like that? And twice a week I swim in the mornings and I get to walk back to my classroom as the sun is rising. The campus is quiet and beautiful.
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Mr. Ho Tee Jam began catering at Singapore American School in 1965, preparing favorites from his time cooking for the British military such as fish and chips, sweet and sour pork, and char siew noodles. In the beginning, the cafeteria kitchen consisted of two wooden food preparation tables, a small basin, one wooden front counter, one domestic gas-run General Electric oven, one General Electric refrigerator, and one small soda chiller, which was a round iron tank with a big block of ice.
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Mr. Hoâ€™s sons, Mr. Hoe Juan Jok (left) and his elder brother Hoe Juan Sim (right) continue to cater at SAS to this day, adding American favorites through the decades, including enchiladas, guacamole, hamburgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, and donuts. Altogether, they hire and oversee over 70 staff members. Aside from feeding SAS students, the Hoe Brothers cater at many community events, including 500 to 600 Thanksgiving and Christmas turkeys every year.
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IN THE SAS E A R LY LEARNING CENTER I n s p i re d c u r r i c u l u m shapes our youngest learners
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By CARA D’AVANZO Staff Writer
The classroom hums with the sounds of SAS’s youngest learners busily at work. Some mix cookie dough to celebrate a friend’s birthday, while others experiment with paints and glue. Students gather around a projector to explore light and shadow. In one corner, pictures, paintings, and songs reflect activities sparked by a recent full moon. In another corner, children play on a wooden structure that last year became an airplane, a doctor’s office, a bus, and a haunted house. Welcome to the SAS early learning center, where learning is fun, questions become adventures, and student interests result in class inquiries ranging from guinea pig habitats to airplane design. Last year, as part of the schoolwide research and development process, the ELC (then the ECC) looked intensively at best practices in early childhood education. ELC teachers continually came back to the philosophy out of the town of Reggio Emilia in Italy. It was there that, as World War II ended, mothers came together to design a new kind of preschool. Since a 1991 Newsweek article entitled “The 10 Best Schools in the World, and What We Can Learn From Them”named Reggio Emilia’s preschools the early childhood winner, the approach has gained international recognition. Reggio Emilia’s early childhood philosophy was a response to the wartime devastation and government retaliation against resistance activities suffered by the town’s residents. In the weeks following the town’s liberation, mothers rejected the state-directed, church-bound educational norms they felt had fostered the rise of fascism. Instead, they created Italy’s first secular, community-centered preschools.
Reggio-inspired schools include interesting, inviting spaces through which children move as they pursue their inquiries.
Under the leadership of Loris Malaguzzi, an educator inspired by progressive educational philosophers, a Reggio-inspired learning experience came to mean one in which children were encouraged to develop their own personalities and explore their interests and learning styles, supported and guided by parents, teachers, and their environment. How does this philosophy fit the larger SAS culture? “The beauty of the Reggio Emilia approach is that it’s not a prescribed program, but rather a philosophy about learning that can be applied contextually to the unique culture, place, history, social diversity, and institutional reality of each school,” explains ELC director Jo McIlroy. There are no specific formulas to follow, no boxes to tick. Rather, the original Italian nurseries and preschools serve as inspiration for other schools’ programs. Those teaching according to Reggio Emilia see themselves as part of a work in progress—each of them developing a structured and intentional curriculum based on students’ interests, and facilitated by teachers’ strategic contributions and guidance. F A L L
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Ice Adventure: The Evolution of One Hub’s Inquiry By HANNAH OLSEN E L C Te a c h e r Last year, our class became fascinated with ice, a transient material in sunny Singapore. Investigating the properties of ice, the children took it to the playground. As an ice block slid down the slide, a child noted, “We could make an ice playground!” This delighted the whole class, and the idea grew to an ice city. Weeks of designing and testing gardens, houses, schools, and playgrounds followed; the children considered both practicality and aesthetics as the ephemeral city emerged. Next, seeing icebergs in the water tray with toy polar bears, the students considered the polar ice caps, asking “But why are they melting?” They decided to consult experts like Santa (because he lives in the North Pole), NASA (because they can see the world from space), and a scientist (because they research) for answers. An NTU scientist gave us answers to our questions in a letter, along with a challenge: “How can you prevent climate change?” This led to an investigation into the greenhouse effect and humans’ impact on climate, and culminated in a studentproduced video entitled “Save the World.” From tiny ice cubes, this project grew into a yearlong investigation in which students gained knowledge about city planning, climate change, and responsible choices, and built skills in communication, social interactions, literacy, numeracy, science, art, and geography.
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spen t inclu on cons tr ding Sund uction, ays
Students express themselves through what Malaguzzi called “the hundred languages of childhood,” such as drawing, drama, dance, building, song, dress-up play, cooking, and sculpture.
A Reggio-inspired learning experience came to mean one in which children were encouraged to develop their own personalities and explore their interests and learning styles, supported and guided by parents, teachers, and their environment.
At the heart of the Reggio Emilia philosophy is respect for young children as unique, capable, and curious individuals filled with wonder and potential. Parents are seen as the “first teacher” for their own children, and the Reggio Emilia philosophy encourages parental involvement and two-way communication. The “second teacher” is the classroom teacher, who facilitates the child’s investigations and carefully documents the learning journey. The “third teacher” is the surrounding environment, which should inspire the child’s interest, provoke questions and curiosity, and provide resources for research and expression.
342 d years of combine e nc rie pe ex teaching
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What does a Reggio Emilia-inspired preschool look and feel like? Typically, it includes: •
Interesting, inviting spaces through which children move as they pursue their inquiries;
Students working together to investigate topics and build relationships with those around them;
Teachers listening carefully to their students, observing their interactions and encouraging in-depth engagement with questions and skills as they arise;
Students expressing themselves through what Malaguzzi called “the hundred languages of childhood,” such as drawing, drama, dance, building, song, dress-up play, cooking, and sculpture;
Proud and visible documentation to remind children what they have achieved and share their learning process; and
Teachers collaborating purposefully with each other to make class-time meaningful, relevant, and joyful.
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176 students in the ELC
Those teaching according to Reggio Emilia principles see themselves as part of a work in progress, each developing a structured and intentional curriculum based on students’ interests.
A New Look By LY N S E Y H O W I T T E L C Te a c h e r “What a beautiful learning environment!” “Wow! What a transformation!” “I wish I was still in pre-kindergarten!” These were just some of the parent responses overheard a few weeks ago at the SAS early learning center back-to-school open house afternoon. We welcomed over 125 new students to the ELC and the response to the summer facilities upgrade was overwhelmingly positive and was received with great enthusiasm. On the last day of school in June 2016, classrooms had been packed up, teachers moved out, and the contractors moved in. The second phase of the ELC’s summer facilities renovation was in full swing and this year it was pre-kindergarten’s turn for a facelift.
The summer works of June 2015 and June 2016 have, in turn, created two preschool and four pre-kindergarten learning hubs. Each hub accommodates 32 students, two teachers, and two instructional assistants. Traditional classrooms have been upgraded to beautiful modern learning environments. What should you expect to see? Open, light-filled spaces where learning is visible, collaborative, and inspiring. The feel is cozy and welcoming. Inspired by the early learning philosophy out of Reggio Emilia, Italy, and guided by our concept-based curriculum and schoolwide desired student learning outcomes, these inviting new learning environments ensure that our youngest learners feel comfortable and connected to the rich and meaningful learning experiences they are encountering.
At SAS, inspiration from the Reggio Emilia approach has led to a number of changes from our previous ECC program. Most obviously, summer facilities projects in 2015 and 2016 turned traditional classrooms into learning hubs, each accommodating two classes that work collaboratively but may also separate into smaller groups. Instead of solid walls, large interior windows offer light-filled learning spaces that allow students to observe their surroundings and interact with the greater ELC community. A central shared space now hosts a cozy library, block area, makerspace, puzzle area, and dress-up corner. The Move and Groove (formerly perceptual motor) room and Chinese room still function as separate classrooms, fostering curiosity and exploration as appropriate.
Student work is on display to remind children what they have achieved and to document their learning process.
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Inside each learning hub, the two teachers and two teaching aides no longer organize learning time around predetermined, standardized units. Guided by the SAS desired student learning outcomes (DSLOs) and a concept-driven curriculum, they prompt students to consider open-ended questions, often based on student observations, and then design activities and lessons around the children’s responses. “When we looked at the tenants of this approach, we saw they matched very closely with our DSLOs,” says McIlroy. “All seven—character, collaboration, content knowledge, creativity, communication, critical thinking, and cultural competence—can be satisfied by appropriately guided, in-depth exploration. This philosophy gives teachers the opportunity to weave the DSLOs into class inquiries, resulting in more enjoyable and authentic learning experiences for students.” Some parents wonder whether this approach will prepare our youngest learners for kindergarten and higher grades, but McIlroy stresses that ELC and kindergarten teachers routinely meet to ensure alignment between the divisions. “We are very aware that we are a part of a large school system. We changed our name from early childhood center to early learning center because that is what we are about. This was very intentional. What the kindergarten teachers see as crucial to success is the social and emotional preparation that the Reggio-inspired ELC program fosters,” she notes. “Students will arrive in kindergarten confident in themselves as learners and their relationships with others, and ready to plunge into the learning opportunities there.” Students find learning through open-ended investigations and inquiry-based activities fun, exciting, and motivating. Recalling a fascination with spooky sounds that led her preschool hub to research the math and physics behind the sounds, create a haunted house, research bats, and discuss Halloween traditions, teacher Nancy Devine says, “The energy and excitement of just two or three kids who want to explore something fuels the fire, and suddenly the whole class is on board!”
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41 walls removed
3 ,000 2 ,500 building blocks
books in the ELC library
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Comparison can sink you or spur you on to great success—it’s just a matter of applying the right mindset and metrics
By D r. J E F F D E V E N S High School Psychologist In spite of our efforts to help our children focus on self-improvement, the tendency remains for them to look outward for inward validation. Case in point: what’s the first thing kids do after receiving a grade on an exam, quiz, or project? They look at their peers’ scores and rank order themselves accordingly. At some level, all of us rely on comparison as a means of validation; however, when not put in proper perspective, comparison becomes a cruel taskmaster. It teaches Heather, for example, there will always be someone smarter, prettier, nicer, skinnier, happier, more athletic, more artistic, and healthier than her. It teaches Daniel that there will always be someone stronger, bigger, brighter, faster, and more muscular than him. The extremes of comparison can be overwhelming. Some kids become ensnared by their shortcomings, believing there’s no use pressing on or leveraging possibilities. Author of The Comparison Trap, Sandra Stanley, notes that, “There’s no winning with this type of comparison.” But, what if comparisons could be harnessed to promote healthy momentum? For this to occur, one significant issue must be sorted: Who or what do your kids look to when determining that they’re okay? In other words, who or what do they compare themselves against to measure their self-worth? Healthy standards for comparison must be actively taught and modeled. Without this, kids face a world with absurd notions of what being “the best” or “measuring up” actually means. Be sure of this: pop culture and social media, for better or worse, are actively feeding a steady stream of what it means to be ________ (fill in the blank).
Comparing one’s present situation to that of others can be a catalyst to motivate in healthy ways. Take, for example, father and wheelchair-bound son Dick and Rick Hoyt. Together they compete in athletic events promoting awareness of the physically challenged. Dick peddles, pulls, and pushes Rick through the race courses. Together they’ve completed over 1,000 races, marathons, duathlons, and triathlons (six of them being Ironman competitions). When I compare my life and the challenges I face with what the Hoyts have accomplished, it reminds me that if I put my mind to something, eventually I too can reach the finish line. Comparison in this form becomes both a healthy metric and motivator. It teaches me to be grateful and to persevere. Such comparisons can be a catalyst to spur on additional efforts, change attitudes, and keep at it. Healthy comparisons begin by reminding kids that it’s not what they have or don’t have compared to others, it’s what they do with what they have. Sixteen-year-old Kevin came to see me about not being selected for a position in a school sponsored activity. For three weeks he wallowed in self-pity and was beginning to move his heart and head to notso-good places. This wasn’t the end of the world, but it sure felt like it. The conversation that ensued wasn’t pleasant, but it was necessary. Kevin needed help retooling his thinking to develop a plan.
Illustrated by SAS graphic designer Haziq Hairoman F A L L
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â€” Theodore Roosevelt
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Throughout the course of the remaining year, he applied himself, worked toward his goals, and eventually earned (operative word) a spot on the team the following year. This was one of those fortunate endings that spurred on further aspirations. Unfortunately, not all outcomes end favorably. Does this mean kids should give up, give in, and resolve themselves to apathy? May it never be! We encourage perseverance because we hold out the belief there is something better to be had, something better to be gained, all the while acknowledging present realities. Grit (guts, resilience, initiative, tenacity) is the character outcome for kids who stay the course. Our focus is on growth, potential, and possibilities; however, none of this occurs when kids fixate on what others have relative to what they lack.
Some suggestions for helping parents deal with comparisons: 1. MODEL AND ACTIVELY TEACH WHERE VALUE AND WORTH ARE DERIVED
Allow kids to question the standards you’ve set for determining your worth, and provide the rationale as to how you arrived at these conclusions.
2. VALIDATE FEELINGS
This isn’t about arguing why they feel the way they do. Rather, it’s about acknowledging the hurt in their heart. Without this, there will be little to no forward momentum. I’ve worked with hundreds of teens with broken hearts. What I know with certainty is kids need to know, in their hearts, that adults aren’t merely trying to change their minds. Changing a mind begins by validating a heart.
3. ACKNOWLEDGE PRESENT REALITIES BUT FOCUS ON FUTURE POSSIBILITIES
Formulate new plans and press on. If they persist in wallowing, reach out to their teachers, coaches, or other mentors who can encourage positive forward momentum. In many cases, kids compare their weaknesses to others’ strengths, instead of focusing on their efforts and attitude. We must help them avoid this sort of reasoning.
4. REMIND THEM CONTINUALLY OF THE STANDARDS YOU USE AS A BASIS FOR HEALTHY COMPARISON (SEE POINT 1)
For many kids, their worth is tied to performance (i.e., academic, athletic, artistic, etc.). This puts them on a treadmill of anxiety, stress, and negative comparison. Instead, help them emphasize the process of their growth, not the final product. It’s the process that produces the results, and their feelings are part of this process. Remember, this won’t be a one-off conversation; it’s active and ongoing.
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The unicorn makes rainbows that wrap around the world. They push the world around the sun.
The conservation of angular momentum.
Minh Khue., Fifth Grade
Suparna S., Twelfth Grade
Money makes the world go round because when you have money, you have the ability to give to anything and anyone and you still have enough for yourself. You can do as much for others as you can do for yourself.
The sun is so hot that the Earth just keeps rolling in circles. Ushmil S., Ninth Grade
Rishab T., Eleventh Grade
What makes the world
Lane K., Eighth Grade
Friendship! Ashley P., Third Grade
Patricia S., Third Grade
The moon, because it makes the water go around.
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ro u n d ?
By S A N D H YA B A L A AND CLARA FONG Communications Interns
Food, because we can survive.
George B., Third Grade
Tamanna W., Ninth Grade
Anish G., Seventh Grade
The sun, because it shines on everything, and if there is no sun, then the world would be dark and we canâ€™t see anything. Woo Jin C., Fourth Grade
People travel a lot and make it spin around. Julia W., Sixth Grade
P RIM E M I N I ST E R
L EE H SI EN L OONG MENT I O NS SAS I N H I S WHITE H OUSE A DDR E S S
This year marks 50 years of diplomatic relations between the US and Singapore. SAS plays an important role between the two countries, and received a shout-out from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during his August visit to Washington, DC! White House state dinners, regarded as one of the highest diplomatic honors a US president can give, have hosted Singapore five times. US President Barack Obama has hosted only 12 state dinners during his two presidential terms, the latest of which hosted PM Lee. In his address on the White House lawn, PM Lee mentioned that Singapore American School enrolls nearly 4,000 students to support the strong business presence of the US in Singapore. How fun it was to hear SAS alumni cheer and to hear PM Lee recognize them! Class of 2010 alumni Nihal Krishan, Kathryn Tinker, and Nick Zulkoski were among those in attendance.
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By KOH XIN TIAN Communications Writer
Gone are the days when science, library, and tech classes were completely separate
INTEGRATING TECHNOLOGY AND LIBRARY SKILLS Last year, tech and library classes’ curriculum models were completely separate. Now, instructional coaches, tech coaches, and librarians will co-teach library and tech skills with classroom teachers during regular class time to integrate library and tech skills into the curriculum. Tech coach Tara Linney explains, “There isn’t a special time in the real world where you go somewhere and use technology skills only, or library skills only. The more students see tech and library skills as integrated into other skills, the better.” Tech coach Keith Ferrell adds, “Now, librarians, tech coaches, and instructional coaches meet biweekly. We’re now each assigned to two grade levels. This allows us to know what’s going on from one grade to the next and work closely with students and teachers so we’re all on the same page for curriculum and learning. We have so many people available as a team to help our kids out.”
COACHES AVAILABLE ON DEMAND The elementary school schedule rotation used to have one tech class scheduled every 12 days, and one library visit or class every six days.
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Now, without a fixed schedule rotation or a fixed number of tech or library lessons, classroom teachers can book tech and instructional coaches on demand any time, any day, for lessons relevant to the topic teachers are teaching at that time. On top of this, two tech coordinators each support three grades, along with supporting specialist and world language teachers, budgets, and teachers’ professional development. “Integrated tech and library instruction is about teaching students integral problem-solving and life skills or content relevant to what’s happening in the classroom, so there is equity among the essential skills all students will learn. All students will be exposed to the same skills, but it may happen at different times, just in time when they need to learn them. Flexibility and timing makes a difference,” tech coach Kelli Buxton says.
FIXED CHECKOUT DAYS Previously, students would have 12-day library rotations with one checkout day every six days and one library lesson over the next six days. Mr. Ferrell says, “Previously, as a parent, I never knew which day my children had to return their library books! Now, with fixed checkout days, my kids know every Monday is checkout day: 30 minutes on the same day each week.”
Ms. Buxton says, “Students now get more access to books because they come to borrow library books more frequently. Teachers are also now more involved with seeing what books their students like, and match students to books just right for their level.”
CO-TEACHING WITH TECHNOLOGY This semester, Mr. Ferrell co-taught Mrs. Terrile’s 45-minute second grade RLA lesson, introducing blogging and iPad use. He recalls, “We showed students, step by step, how to connect their learning blog profiles to the app EasyBlogger. Then they wrote their first blog post, which is when the actual magic happens when we co-taught as a teacher and a tech coach. We brainstormed for title ideas and talked about punctuation, spelling, and digital citizenship, so the lesson was more than just technology.
COLLABORATIVE LEARNING Students can now build their tech skills, library skills, and subject area knowledge in the newly renovated creation stations in The Loft in the elementary school library, an area created with the support of the SAS Foundation. Ms. Linney says, “We’re looking to increase collaboration among students, teachers, and coaches in finding out what tools work best for learning in a collaborative learning environment.”
Whether it is pursuing a passion, building character, collaboration, communication, creativity and innovation, cultural competence or critical thinking skills, students can try out creation stations in five strands: art, building, coding, engineering, and filmmaking. Students will get challenge cards encouraging them to explore, make, and to innovate. At the beginning stage of a creation station activity, students may be exploring materials, then making an item, and finally innovating by modeling what they learned in creating their own item that can operate or function. Ms. Buxton gives the example of a first grade class visiting the creation stations to learn about circuits. “First, they were asked to build a circuit by following a map in a booklet. Next, they could build any project from the booklet. And thirdly, they were asked to create their own circuits. That’s how we had six-year-olds making a little propeller fan fly! At the coding stations, we’ve also got Dash and Dot Robots from the Wonder Workshop that students can code, Bee-Bots, and Makey Makeys.” And Ms. Buxton adds, “Students absolutely adore their time learning up here. They grab you by the arm and tug you to their station saying, ‘Come look at what I created!’ and beg, ‘When can we come back to creation stations?’ Their excitement is palpable.”
REVITALIZE. PROTECT. SOAR. Identify a need and dig in to make a difference. Thatâ€™s what students do every day at Singapore American School. Our unparalleled personalized learning opportunities allow students to research topics at university level and engage in service through academics and dozens of service clubs. Whether students want to preserve coastal wetlands, develop eco-friendly mosquito abatement solutions, or study tropical ecology, they can pursue their passions and excel at Singapore American School.
Singapore American School CPE Registration Number: 196400340R Registration Period: 22 June 2011 to 21 June 2017 Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges
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SINGAPORE AMERICAN SCHOOL
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GRIT OR QUIT ? By KYLE ALDOUS Director of Communications
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The only thing I see that is distinctly different about me is: I’m not afraid to die on a treadmill. I will not be outworked, period. You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me, you might be sexier than me. You might be all of those things. You got it on me in nine categories. But if we get on the treadmill together, there are two things: You’re getting off first, or I’m going to die. It’s really that simple.
WORK HARD… If you get on a treadmill next to Will Smith, there are apparently only two options; you will give up and step off, or you will literally kill him. We may never get to test his simple hypothesis, but the point is obvious and his message inspirational: never quit. You’ve probably heard some version of this message before from your parents, teachers, and other celebrities.
...BUT ALSO KNOW WHEN TO CUT YOUR LOSSES. But actually, “never quit” is spectacularly bad advice. Never quit? If I never quit anything, I would still be folding shirts at the Gap. If we never quit anything, many of us would be in dead-end jobs, broken relationships, or trying to beat the high score in our favorite video games. The truth is, we all give up at times, and that’s okay.
WHAT IS GRIT?
GRIT In essence, grit is the opposite of quitting, and Dr. Duckworth’s evidence suggests we should want as much of it as possible. As a result, there are plenty of new studies being conducted about the development of grit, and no shortage of authors and researchers with answers to questions about grit. While the word “grit” is currently enjoying the spotlight, the concept of perseverance has been around for centuries. Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote in his book Meditations, “So remember this principle when something threatens to cause you pain: the thing itself was no misfortune at all; to endure it and prevail is great good fortune.”
2013 MacArthur “genius grant” fellow Dr. Angela Duckworth is the New York Times bestselling author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. In her book, she describes grit as a ‘combination of passion and perseverance’ in her book. She explains, “To have grit is to wake up thinking about the same CAN A PERSON HAVE TOO MUCH GRIT? questions, the same challenges you were working on yesterday—and to do the same tomorrow, The Greek philosopher Aristotle warned us about and the next day, on and on and on for years. the danger of extremism in the pursuit of character To have grit is to embody the Japanese motto: attributes. He suggested a type of “golden mean” fall seven, rise eight.” to guide the pursuit of any virtue. For example, having no fear at all could lead to bravado that For years, Dr. Duckworth has been studying might end in poor decision-making, while on the West Point cadets, and found that grit is a other hand, if you have too much fear, this causes significant indicator in predicting which cadets will cowardice and may never lead to any action. make it through the first year commonly referred to as “beast barracks.” She found that students who Answers such as “it depends,” and “we should try scored high on grit had the highest GPAs, but that to have not too much but not too little,” don’t mean these students were also associated with lower SAT much on a practical level in day-to-day life. Luckily scores, suggesting that among elite undergraduates, there is a “Grit or Quit?” test that you can use to smarter students may be slightly less gritty than their help you figure out whether it’s time to persevere peers! It’s good to know that lower SAT scores or time to pack it in. do not indicate a limit to one’s academic and life achievements. Our lives are often made up of a series of goals like a staircase, each goal leading to the next until we finally reach our destination.
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QUIT Take a moment to think of one of your long-term goals, and you may find that there are many ways to get to the top. Dr. Duckworth says that when it’s time to decide whether to quit or to continue using grit, you should analyze what it is that you are quitting, and where it falls among your goals. Are you quitting the idea of getting your dream job because you didn’t do well in AP Calculus? Or can you recalculate a new route to that same destination, like using a car GPS? Look for a path to a dream job that does not involve acing AP Calculus, and keep moving forward.
“YOU CAN QUIT, BUT YOU CAN’T QUIT ON A HARD DAY.” If a music passage is hard, you will continue until it’s easy. If you’re having a hard time with a basketball skill, you will keep practicing until you learn it. “Parents know what a kid doesn’t know. For a kid, it’s irrational to keep going when they’re discouraged. Parents know that everyone feels that way,” Dr. Duckworth says. While it is okay for a child to quit, it’s not okay to leave the void empty. If a child opts out of an activity, it should be replaced with another opportunity to build perseverance and grit. The goal is not to force a child to develop grit by mandating the development of one particular skill prescribed by you at age three. Instead, give your children the agency to explore their interests and learn to push themselves until they ultimately find a compelling activity that captures their attention, energy, and diligence. While empirical evidence demonstrates that more grit typically beats less grit, remember that there are many roads leading to your long-term goals. Don’t be afraid to correct your course along the way. And should you ever end up on a treadmill next to Will Smith, let him win. I’m still waiting for Men In Black 4.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR OUR KIDS AND US? This is great for professionals, college students, and high school students, but how does this information apply to students in elementary and middle school? Many of them haven’t yet developed long-term goals, and when things get hard, it’s easy to quit. “A child in elementary school should be able to stick with things for more than a few weeks,” Dr. Duckworth says. She adds that in middle school they should stick it out through the entire season or year, and once they are in high school, it is important to learn to carry an activity through multiple years. For your child, this means it’s not the end of the world if they quit the piano, violin, soccer, or whatever activity they are currently pursuing. Plenty of other activities can still help your child live a fulfilling life. There is a phrase that Dr. Duckworth uses to help her own children know when to buckle down and exhibit grit, and when to wave the white flag and say, “I quit.”
FURTHER READING: How can I measure grit? Check out the “Grit Scale” at http://angeladuckworth.com/grit-scale/ What can I do to teach grit to my children? Paul Tough, “How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character.” Where can I read more about grit? Angela Duckworth, “When to Quit From an Expert on Grit,” PBS Newshour, May 12, 2016, http://www.pbs.org/newshour/making-sense/ column-grit-or-quit/ KJ Dell’Antonia, “Raising a Child with Grit Can Mean Letting Her Quit,” New York Times, April 29, 2016, http://well.blogs.nytimes. com/2016/04/29/when-raising-a-child-with-gritmeans-letting-her-quit/
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Our middle school Classroom Without Walls program extends student learning beyond experiences they can gain at school through trips to Malaysia, Indonesia, and islands off Singapore. Trust, risk-taking, goal-setting, resiliency, and cooperation are just a few of the traits that this signature SAS program aims to instill in students, who also further develop their own environmental awareness and cultural competence through participating in activities specific to each trip. Check out a few reflections from our freshly returned students!
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New independence The theme for sixth grade Classroom Without Walls was “I Connect”, and I connected with my environment, my community, and myself this September by getting up close with nature at Pulau Ubin, meeting a community gardener at a Changi Village park, and trying new things at a hawker center.
Avery S., Sixth Grade Student
At the Pulau Ubin sensory trail, a friendly, smiling naturalist named Mr. R. Subaraj led our hike. He was a real expert. I was so impressed with how he picked up a whip snake and handled it carefully, then put it back safely in the trees unharmed. I learned that it has black stripes when it is stressed out, and I watched them slowly fade as it calmed down. Mr. Raj taught us about an invasive species of plant that wraps itself around a tree, slowly grows roots around it, and eventually strangles it to death. He showed us one that wrapped itself around a small store instead of a tree, and the store’s door was barely visible. We also saw plants that keep mosquitoes and cockroaches away. Mr. Raj was also good at mimicking animals’ noises: monkeys would respond when he talked to them, and he made a perfect bird call of an almost-extinct bird. Staying in a hotel room with no parents was really fun! Three of us felt more responsible and proud of ourselves for setting a time to go to sleep and sticking to it. We got to know each other better and played games such as Spot It, Farkle, and Uno. It wasn’t too hard to wake up the next morning because I was so excited to build a bridge with our homebase, swim in the pool, and walk along the beach. Our homebase did challenging team-building activities such as a photo scavenger hunt and Minute to Win It. It was interesting to see how different people react in the same situations when working together. We learned about each other and we helped each other succeed. I made a new friend who was shy and didn’t talk much in class before Classroom Without Walls, though she was always kind and hardworking. I learned that we both like animals, nature, and adventure. I like seeing her even more now and we talk more in class and in the halls. At the lively hawker center, the smells made me hungry and made me want to wander to all the stalls and see what kinds of food there was. There were a lot of people in line getting food and talking. I ordered rice with pork from a shopkeeper who smiled and greeted me warmly, and felt proud of myself for ordering and paying for my own food. I felt independent and can imagine going out by myself now. It was hard to find a place to sit and eat, so my friends and I found a table and took turns to get food while the others watched the food and drinks. I felt so much older than I felt in fifth grade! I can’t wait for Classroom Without Walls in seventh grade. I’m excited to venture further from Singapore and stay longer. I hope there is even more physical activity, and look forward to meeting new people and spending time with new friends.
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Outside of school Classroom Without Walls helped me bond with my teacher, classmates, and side. We competed in friendly tournaments against other homebases, including synchronized swimming, sandcastle competitions, and relay races. What made us get to know each other the most was staying in the same room with other boys from my homebase. This was because at other times, everybody could just go off and play with friends we already knew, but staying in the same room made us get to know each other. Jake J., Seventh Grade Student
Just as we were leaving for Malaysia, our homebase teacher said, “It will be extremely fun and interesting to see what you guys will be like outside of school!” And that’s just what everybody did. We also saw what the teachers are like when they’re not in the classroom, which was very different and more fun than they are in the classroom. I feel like I know my homebase teacher Ms. Olsen differently now. Thumbs up for Classroom Without Walls!
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Experiencing kampung life This Classroom Without Walls trip to Telunas, Indonesia let me see the world in a different way, and prepared me for the world in a new way. I thought critically about world issues and learned how some people get around them. Small things such as no hot water and big issues such as poverty and a lack of infrastructure all have a root cause. Our trip shines the light on the issues, and revealed the true problem and how we can solve it. Tim L., Eighth Grade Student
This trip, I had the opportunity to experience kampung life first-hand. We got to visit a local community school, walk around the villages, and try some activities essential to villagers’ daily life. In reality, these are actually happy places, and the people living don’t have major conflicts to worry about, they are self-sustaining, and live with people they have known practically all their lives. Locals also feel a strong sense of home to the natives; many of the villagers have had their ancestors and elders living in the same place. They are happy people and they get on with life, but the news cover it negatively by saying they say that they need a “normal” life in financial terms, and start doing other things with their lives.
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What are you
MOst excit ed for in the coming school year?
By R O O PA L K O N D E P U D I Communications Intern
I am excited for all of the technology integration that’s possible here and the support that comes with it! This is a new adventure for me, and I can’t wait to learn and grow in my own practice. I also hope this will help me motivate and inspire my students to be curious, creative, and thoughtful learners. Before SAS, I lived in New York City and taught third grade in a public school. I loved exploring all of NYC’s vibrant neighborhoods and I am excited to do the same here in Singapore! Mariel Slater, Learning Support Teacher
Zoya B., Eighth Grade Student
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One difference that stands out is between the campus and neighborhoods. At my school in NYC, we didn’t have a big playground or much outdoor space. Here at SAS, we have fields and playgrounds galore! I also taught in a busy neighborhood with lots of hustle and bustle; here we have a rainforest. The tranquility and open, green space is a unique change.
The different things we’ll be doing in PE. I’ve never really liked PE but here I’m actually excited to see what we do! I was in Texas before coming to SAS and the people here are much friendlier!
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Chinmay Agrawal, Tenth Grade Student
Making new friends and taking part in school activities like sports and clubs. I lived in Delhi, India for 12 years before joining SAS. It’s completely different from my previous school. This school is larger and there’s more freedom. Teachers and students are more polite here.
Getting to know the SAS community, and getting out and exploring Singapore and the region. I am also anxious for winter to arrive! Jeremy Ritzer, High School Social Studies
David Han, Tenth Grade Student
James Toney, Jr., Grade 6 RLA Teacher
Creating bonds with teachers and fellow students. Before SAS, I was at International Community School (Singapore). This school is very big and has lots of different facilities.
Sabrina Campedelli, Eleventh Grade Student
Getting to the point where I feel settled in and comfortable being an SAS student. I was in St. Louis, Missouri before SAS. The curriculum back home wasn’t very different and we even had a similar four-block schedule system.
To get to know a new group of students and teachers within Singapore. So far, so good! I was actually working in Singapore for five years already at United World College. There are a lot more things in common than different here, as both schools share Singapore as a home and a similarly-sized campus and population. There are some minor differences that I’m getting used to like scheduling and the “sides” system, but that’s what makes coming to a new school fun and exciting—a chance to try new things.
Welcome to the ly! mi a f S SA
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WHY I GIVE — SHUMIT AND RITU KAPOOR PARENTS OF KAVIN, CLASS OF 2020, AND KUSH, CLASS OF 2022
By ANNE DUNCAN Associate Director of Advancement
How long has your family been in Singapore and part of SAS? Shumit: We’ve been in Singapore for nine years, having been relocated here twice. We’ve lived in Germany, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, and Thailand, and our two boys are in seventh and ninth grade. What brought you to Singapore and SAS? Ritu: Shumit’s work brought us back to Singapore, a country we’d grown to love in our first stint here. SAS was a natural choice as our children were in IASAS schools before and were very comfortable with the academic system, we’d heard positive feedback about SAS from friends with children here, and our boys had friends already studying at SAS. It also helped to learn that SAS truly provided the learning environment we wanted our children to grow in. What excites you about the education at SAS? Shumit: The holistic learning experience that prepares our children for the future. We’re glad that the onus is put on students to recognize and take advantage of the tremendous resources and opportunities at SAS. Our children’s learning environment positively influences them to be confident, articulate, and well-rounded. All their teachers are deeply attentive to nurturing their capabilities and are very supportive. They inspire children to be passionate and soar in multiple disciplines, be it nurturing their theater passion through the International Schools Theatre Association Program, persevering on a BB8 robot project all summer, or mentoring a film assignment that won a Singapore International Film Festival award. We want our children to always be the best possible versions of themselves, and to stay positive, content, compassionate, embrace change, and be lifelong learners. We are heartened to see these values nurtured at school through the SAS vision and core values. 39 JOURNEYS
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OU R CHIL DRE N ’S L E A RN IN G EN V I RON M E N T
P O S ITIV E LY I NF L U E NCE S TH E M T O B E
CO NFI DENT, A RTI C U L AT E, AN D W E L L -R OU NDED. Why and how do you support SAS? Ritu: Volunteering at school is a natural progression of our family’s belief in making a difference in the community and building the environment our children grow in—a reward in itself. SAS offers so many ways to volunteer, so it is hard not to find something to suit you and of course meet wonderful friends. I began as a book fair and used books sale volunteer, then as a room parent, a welcome buddy to new families, and at the International Fair 2016. It was a memorable platform to lead my home country’s efforts to build our community and make deeper connections to the SAS community.
Besides volunteering, giving to the SAS Foundation is another opportunity to enrich our children’s world with options to give at any comfort level. Seeing some of the stellar work our donation monies were being used for and learning how it directly impacts students began our belief in making a gift to the SAS Foundation and joining the Eagle Society. Ritu: Receiving a personalized thank you note from a student who had benefited from our donation was a sweet reminder that we all have choices to make, and that we can teach our kids to recognize theirs. As Dumbledore puts it, “It is our choices, Harry, that show us who we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
I now volunteer with the PTA Welcome Committee to help new families transition into SAS and will also lead a new initiative this year called SAS Spirit. Our boys pitch in at Peer Counsel and Peer Support in their respective divisions to help new peers on campus. We also began contributing to the SAS Foundation last year.
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Congratulations 41 JOURNEYS
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CLASS OF 2016 F A L L
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Boys’ Volleyball Record: 4-2 Our boys varsity volleyball team showed a lot of grit as they pulled off some close victories and ultimately won the final in the fifth set against Taipei American School in a rematch from last year’s IASAS championship. Girls’ Volleyball Record: 5-0 The girls varsity volleyball team dominated the competition all weekend and defeated International School of Manila in three straight sets to win the final. Boys’ Soccer Record: 3-0 The boys went undefeated and had a fantastic game against International School of Kuala Lumpur in a 7-0 victory. Girls’ Soccer Record: 4-0 The weekend began with a 2-1 win over International School of Kuala Lumpur and the girls just kept improving as they finished off the weekend with an 8-1 victory again over ISKL. Boys’ Cross Country Second place overall finish Junior Eric Silva had an incredible race and finished first overall leading the boys team to second place overall. Girls’ Cross Country First place overall finish Senior Vanessa Smiley finished third guiding in a group of four SAS runners behind her to help the girls team capture first place overall.
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nT rcleO he
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Fu lC l i
t r Co u
: G r e r i B al Com B in
How SAS alumnus and IASAS champion Blair Berg (‘02) found his way back to the court
By KYLE ALDOUS Director of Communications The last time Blair Berg was here, he tri-captained his second IASAS volleyball championship team. With bleach-tipped hair, standard late 1990s puka shell necklace, and the bravado of a three-team varsity athlete, Blair helped sweep the gold out of the hands of the International School of Manila (ISM) Bearcats in three straight sets. Thirteen years later, the bleach gone, sporting a beard, and donning his Bearcats polo, International School of Manila’s Coach Berg now sits across the court from his alma mater, hoping to pick up right where he left off. 28-26. ISM grabs the first set. 25-23. SAS pulls back and equalizes. 25-20. SAS finishes strong and looks poised to win. Next, ISM primary hitter John Ma attempts a spike. Two tall SAS defenders send it hurling back at him. John turns, expecting to see his coach’s disappointment. Instead Coach Berg laughs, “Whoa, you got absolutely stuffed.” 25-19. ISM rallies back and levels it out to force a fifth and final game. Going into the final game, Blair told his players, “This is what we have been preparing for all season long. Trust each other and leave everything on the court.” But SAS has won 12 out of its past 16 volleyball championships for a reason, and that day was no different. SAS pulls off a late 15-13 win to move into the finals against Taipei. After post-game high-fives and congratulations, the Bearcats exit the gym to do their own analysis of the game and season.
Illustrated by SAS graphic designer Haziq Hairoman F A L L
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The pros of teaching at an international
school are amazing . You’re surrounded by the best of the best in education, your
backgrounds that enhance learning on a daily basis, and your quality of life is
improved drastically . Far away from the cheering crowds and polished courts, the emotional Bearcat team sits and discusses the highs and lows of the game. Choking back tears, they celebrate the individual efforts of each member. With nine IASAS tournaments to his name, Blair is familiar with how these tournaments work. But as a coach, this was the first time he witnessed the effort that goes into crafting a seamless experience for the players. “Being on the other side of IASAS as a coach, having to call for curfew checks, meet up with other coaches, and witness the behind-thescenes work of a perfectly run tournament was awesome,” he said. International school teaching is in Blair’s blood. His parents Bill and Cathy Berg were long-time international educators, including 14 years at SAS. Bill taught high school business and consumer law, while Cathy taught kindergarten and second grade. The Bergs had also lived in Kenya, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), and the Russian Federation. His brother Andy Berg (SAS ’98) and sister-in law Nina Fraizer (SAS ’98), also teach internationally at the American Community School in Amman, Jordan. 47 JOURNEYS
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Blair got his social sciences undergraduate degree from Colorado State University. It wasn’t until he decided to try teaching English in Taiwan at KOJEN English Language School that he understood the gratification possible in education. “I liked the daily grind of the job and seeing the growth of individual students. So I went back to the States to get my US teaching license, and the rest is history,” Blair said. After earning his secondary teaching certificate from the University of Northern Colorado in 2009, he stayed local and began his career in the heart of Fort Collins at Rocky Mountain High School as a geography and history teacher and volleyball coach. As a rookie teacher and coach, he focused on developing the same attributes he remembered from SAS teachers and coaches who influenced him as a student. “My English teacher, Mr. Brian Coole, had the ability of bringing in outside influences such as music, art, and current events, to make language and literature approachable to a wide array of students. Ms. Mimi Molchan inspired thousands of athletes to become better students and people by encouraging them to always remain respectful to everyone, no matter the outcome,” he said.
While at Rocky Mountain, Blair met and began dating Ms. Holly Walker, and the pair soon decided to kick off their international teaching careers at American School of Kuwait. The school spurred tremendous professional growth as they found themselves surrounded by colleagues with years of international school experience, while the Middle East offered wonderful surprises and solidified their desire to remain abroad indefinitely. “The international teaching scene is a dream come true. If it was up to me, I would stay abroad forever. The pros of teaching at an international school are amazing. You are surrounded by the best of the best in education, your students come from unique backgrounds that enhance learning on a daily basis, and your quality of life is improved drastically,” he said.
It didn’t take long for him to gain the trust and respect of his students and athletes. “Mr. Berg is one of those teachers who would be a good fit for any student,” said ISM junior, Claire Stevens. “He’s very approachable and always makes you feel welcome.” For Blair, there is one principal responsibility he feels each year as he greets his next group of students. “In the classroom, on the court, or on the field, I want my students and athletes to know that I truly care for them. I will encourage them, help them, and push them every chance I get. I want them to have a space where they can feel safe, supported, and trusted to be themselves,” he said. It’s been almost a year since that semi-final loss to SAS, and Blair can’t wait to have another chance to square off again with the Eagles.
In 2015, 13 years after graduating from SAS, Blair took a spot on the International School “SAS is well coached and has a long history Manila faculty, teaching AP US History, AP Human Geography, IB Environmental Systems and Societies, of success. They are always the team to beat at IASAS,” he smiles. and a freshman geography course. After school he began coaching two sports he excelled in as a student: volleyball and softball.
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Whatâ€™s your story? The bonds of friendship. The mentorship of teachers and staff. Memories made in moments big and small. The learning that shines through perseverance. Every interaction, every pursuit, every class, and every activity at SAS weaves the fabric of our community to make us who we are. We want to celebrate all things SAS. Share your story with us, and we may share it with our community online or in Journeys. Connect with us at firstname.lastname@example.org and help us tell the story of what makes SAS a special place.
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Want to see your Instagram photos, Facebook posts, or tweets here in Journeys? Start using #sasedu in everything you post about the school!
@ajzuber Long weekend reading sorted! @pgreensoup #SASedu
@petergcuthbert Spectacular swimming hole in the middle of nowhere #jungle # hike #education #cww #outdooreducation #sasedu
@DrMichaelRClark #sasedu #ethon Cheer chosen!
@ms.ramani Finding a resting spot... And a teachable moment... While we wait to visit The Kampung House. #cww #sasedu
@jeffpabatoy Welcome back day @SAmericanSchool celebrating everyone especially new students and staff. #celebration #sasedu
@SAmericanSchool “I don’t want kids to be entitled, especially my own kids.” #SASedu #edsg #edchat
@samericanschool At the International Coastal Cleanup! #SASedu
@jdiebley After a stimulating morning walk on the beach, of course we need to cool off! #sasedu #SAS_cww
N I K E T R E L U C T A N T M I D D L E S C H O O L E R T U R N E D E N T R E P R E N E U R
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D E S A I — By ANA CHAVEZ Communications Intern
Niket Desai sat down in the same chair he used over 15 years ago. Taking off his sunglasses, he scanned the middle school library hung with colorful flags from around the world and filled with neat rows of bookshelves. For the young teenagers hanging around the middle school library, it was hard to ignore Niket’s nostalgic smile as his mind raced through memories of friends, teachers, and life-changing experiences. “There was a 50/50 shot that if you put your backpack down in here during break,” he laughed, “that it’d just all of a sudden be tied to 30 other bags.” He shared stories of little pranks students would pull on one another, Interim trips, and balconies that we both agreed were good study and relaxation spots. “This feels like a second home,” he reminisced. However, that ‘second home’ wasn’t originally what Niket thought about Asia. “I wanted to leave,” recalled Niket. For any middle schooler trading their hometown for a small and shockingly humid island like Singapore, these words aren’t unusual. After growing up in Cupertino, California, best known as the heart of Silicon Valley, the cultural melting pot of Singapore shocked him. “Everything was foreign,” he said. “You’re not used to it, so your first reaction is, ‘Well, if I leave, it’ll just be easier.’” To Niket’s dismay, leaving Southeast Asia wasn’t an option. Yet, amongst the ruffle of pages and giggling sixth graders, it was obvious the formerly frightened middle school student had moved beyond shock. With the type of clarity that comes from over 15 years of experience, serial entrepreneurial success including a business deal with Google, and a close call with death, he remarked, “It isn’t until you leave SAS that you truly understand the impact an experience like that will have on the rest of your life.”
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A big challenge for
third culture kids
is appreciating the fact that they understand something that most people don’t, while not judging people who haven’t yet come to that stage so harshly. “Why do you go to school?” he asked me as we began the interview. Bewildered, my only answer was that my parents and I wanted myself to learn. His response was fast, as though he anticipated the need for further commentary. “Your parents just want to see you fundamentally happy,” he started. “Education gives you the opportunity to be happy because you advance in society. More specifically, that you do things you like, and that make you happy.” “If the purpose of school is to show you what you actually like based on who you are and how you grew up,” he continued, “then the reason you have an affinity for certain people is because they’re the ones who revealed that to you.” For Niket, that person was Mr. Jim Diebley. Mr. Diebley, a middle school technology teacher, was among the people Niket met at SAS who had a lasting impact on him. Although moving in middle school was frustrating when Niket was beginning to settle into classes, Mr. Diebley helped him answer the question that all curious and growing middle schoolers ask themselves: “What do I want to be when I grow up?” “When I met Mr. Diebley, I had taken advanced electronics and robotics, and it happened that those were stuff I was interested in,” Niket remarked. “He provided my earliest exposure to mathematics and engineering in a way that I could understand.” A common interest in space and exploration further solidified their growing mentorship when Mr. Diebley gave Niket a piece of an Apollo 1 Mission patch. At 12 years old, he had found his calling. Engineering soon took hold of him and he began to see a future. After graduating from the University of California Berkeley in 2009, Niket worked with companies such as Google and Motorola. Niket joined Google when it acquired Punchd, his co-founded company that strives to connect customers to their favorite shops.
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At Google, Niket worked in the GeoCommerce division across products such as Maps, Wallet and more. And at Motorola, Niket developed phones and watches, specifically the Moto X and Moto 360, which at the time were groundbreaking. Eventually, Niket started Flipkart, a platform which sells goods online in India. Mr. Diebley wasn’t the only individual that offered him perspective.“Think about the people you’ve met in this room,” he gestured around us. “Look at all the flags of the countries. You just don’t find this type of stuff in US education systems. And the problem is that most people don’t realize what they have here at SAS until they leave.” “If some event were to happen somewhere, I wouldn’t read about it on BBC,” Niket explained. “I probably have a friend on Facebook who lives there, and they’d just tell me about it. There’s a difference between reading about the world and knowing people in the world.” It wasn’t until after Niket graduated from SAS that he realized how broad his perspective had become compared to many of his peers in university. “A big challenge for third culture kids is appreciating the fact that they understand something that most people don’t, while not judging people who haven’t yet come to that stage so harshly.” It’s up to the third culture kid to understand that a xenophobic person, who’s only been exposed to one type of perspective, can’t “sit there and all of a sudden become a worldly person.”
There’s a difference between
Think about the people you’ve met in this room. You don’t find this type of stuff in US education systems. The homogenous communities inhabiting many parts of the world that Niket describes lacks a distinct “mix of people from different places and different attitudes colliding,” may be shocking for third culture kids at first. However, Niket believes that SAS kids or any other third culture kids are “used to being around people who aren’t like them,” he said. “You learn that your way is not the only way, and it makes you humble enough to be open to the way that probably isn’t the best.” Although the perspective from his invested mentor and global peers shaped the direction he took, Niket’s greatest shift in perspective came when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2013. “There are statistics on how many people get cancer each year. Someone has to make those statistics,” he explained. “When you’re young and you have cancer, most of your life is affected by it, and you have to keep an eye on it. You can’t let those kinds of things own you; you gotta just keep doing what you’ve been doing.” With glasses propped on the top of his head, and a watch around his wrist indicating the date of his last chemotherapy session, Niket said, “SAS takes a bunch of people who are in many ways orphans of the world and puts them together,” he explained. “You’re given this perspective at SAS that is actually put into you—and the only way you ever see it working or manifesting is by going somewhere else.” Although third culture kids may depart from Singapore, Niket says, “The archetype of the person who ends up at SAS was probably someone who was not meant to just go back.”
knowing in the world.
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The PTA NEEDs YOU! The Parent-Teacher Association is a volunteer-based group focused wholly on building a spirit of community here at Singapore American School. We host a variety of events each year and we need your help to make them successful! Check your eNews each week for the latest events and volunteer opportunities available. We canâ€™t wait to meet you!
Used book sale and holiday vendor fair
November 30 â€“ December 2, 2016 Elementary school library
December 7 & 8, 2016 Riady Performing Arts Center
February 25, 2017 Schoolwide
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By JODI JONIS SAS Communications Volunteer
Nepal, Uganda, India, Thailand, China, Singapore, and Cambodia—these are just some of the locations where kids at SAS provide service. Service clubs and activities can fall into one of five key categories: global issues, poverty eradication, education for all, help for the disabled and ill, and SAS-centric. Here’s a peek at what service looks like in each division.
Elementary students in each grade level participate in experiences tied to curricular learning which provide opportunities to give, to receive, and to grow. In September, fifth grade students visited the Christalite Methodist Home in Woodlands to work with senior citizens. Look out in November for a school-wide initiative to support Caring for Cambodia by preparing hygiene kits.
In addition to supporting the SAVE club’s International Coastal Cleanup Singapore initiative, the middle school is starting up their own after school service clubs: Roots and Shoots, Caring for Cambodia, and Care Corner. The Nyaka Orphans Support club, which will help orphans in Uganda due to HIV/AIDS, is brand new in middle school this year thanks to the initiative of grade seven student Ayla M.
In high school, the year kicked off in August with the packed service fair where more than 55 clubs showcased their cause and recruited new members. Some clubs are active already, such as TASSEL which skypes with children in Cambodia weekly in order to teach them English. Friends of Genesis is helping out weekly at the Genesis School for Special Education in Singapore. September saw the SAVE club participate in the 25th annual International Coastal Cleanup Singapore. SAS has been there for every single one! The numbers? Sixty-five volunteers gathered 407 kilograms of trash in 46 bags over a span of 150 kilometers.
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Was it this person that said that? Or that person that said this? Turn the magazine upside down to find out if you matched the quote to the right faculty!
Rachel Proffitt, High School Social Studies
Patrick Green, Technology Integration Specialist
Susan Shaw, Elementary School Deputy Principal
Wendy Windust, Grade 8 RLA
Rhian Murgatroyd, High School Math
Miriam Sim, Principal’s Secretary
James McMullen, Middle School Maker Studio
Lynsey Howitt, Pre-Kindergarten
I graduated as part of the SAS Class of 1996, and now I teach here and am a parent of two SAS students. My family and I traveled for a year, living in an ultralight 17-foot trailer. We explored the Baja Peninsula, paddleboarded standing up with gray whales, swam with whale sharks, and volunteered for 10 days to hatch sea turtles.
Singapore Airlines brought my husband and I together 25 years ago through our work in the travel industry.
5-foot 9-inch, two-time NBA Slam Dunk Contest Champion Nate Robinson (New York Knicks) posterized me (dunked on my head) during a basketball game.
I grew up in Botswana. I’ve built over 60 boats ranging from Eskimo kayaks to custom power cruisers, mostly using traditional techniques. Over the summer, I travelled 351 miles over 27 days aboard Rowan, a sail and oar open boat based on a Shetland Islands fishing vessel.
My freshman year of college, I auditioned for Biloxi Blues at the University of Iowa and was cast! Since then, I have been in over 15 plays.
Our family weekends and traditions center around our intense love of rugby— our whole street could hear our family cheering for Fiji when they won gold in the Olympic rugby sevens competition!
ANSWERS: Rachel Proffitt – 7; Patrick Green – 4; Susan Shaw – 8; Wendy Windust – 2; Rhian Murgatroyd – 5; Miriam Sim – 3; James McMullen – 6; Lynsey Howitt – 1
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1 MIDDLE SCHOOL LIBRARY ASSISTANT PREMALA
SEKARAN EARNS PUBLIC SERVICE MEDAL
SAS middle school library assistant Mdm Premala Sekaran received the Public Service Medal (Pingat Bakti Masyarakat) at the National Day Awards 2016 for her service to the community. She is also the chairperson of the Boon Lay Community Centre’s Indian Activities and Executive Committee, and is pictured on the right (in blue) with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. The Public Service Medal may be awarded to any person who has rendered commendable public service in Singapore or for their achievement in the field of arts and letters, sports, the sciences, business, the professions, and the labour movement.
2 SAS STUDENTS WIN AWARDS IN 2016
NATIONAL HISTORY DAY FINALS
In June 2016, 14 SAS students traveled to the University of Maryland, College Park in the US to compete in the National History Day finals. Each SAS project competed against approximately 100 other projects from across the United States, which were the top two from each state. Sanjo R. and Jack W. created a junior group documentary titled, “Music in the Holocaust: Encountering Hope within the Horror.” Christine Y., Chloe B., and Evelyn Z. created a junior group exhibit titled, “A Unique Cultural Exchange: The White Rajahs and the Sarawakians.” Meera P. created a junior individual documentary titled, “Japonisme: The Artistic Exchange Between Japan and France.” Sarim A. created a junior individual website titled, “The Potsdam Conference: An Exploration, Encounter, and Exchange Between Nations.” Lauren L., Jenny P., and Joy J. earned the prize of best Junior Division project from South Asia with their group documentary project “Jewish European Immigrants to America: A Critical Exchange in U.S. History”. Mehek J., Trinity Y., Callie E., and Tara A. created their junior group exhibit on “The Apollo-Soyuz Mission: Launching a Unified Exchange.” Their project earned first place among the junior group exhibits.
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*While in Washington DC, our students also got to meet Representative Tammy Duckworth, an #SASedu alumna herself!
3 SYSTEM AT SAS AUDITORIUM
4 SEVENTH GRADER CAST
IN THE ANNIE MUSICAL
The SAS auditorium’s Constellation acoustic system from Meyer Sound have won the 2016 Commercial Integrator Integration Award for Best K-12 Project!
Seventh grader Sarah D. was cast as an orphan in the Singapore tour of Annie that premiered at Marina Bay Sands from August 24–September 11.
5 BIOLOGY TEXTBOOK AUTHOR PROFESSOR
JOSEPH LEVINE VISITS SAS
Professor Joseph Levine, Ph.D., co-author of the SAS molecular biology textbook Miller & Levine Biology (Pearson North America) and a foundational contributor to the Next Generation Science Standards, visited our school in August. Professor Levine joined SAS life science teachers in professional development sessions and held four public talks which complement SAS’s focus on environmental sustainability: Evolution and Climate Change; Welcome to the Anthropocine; Miller and Levine Biology: New Science, New Media; and Ecology and Evolution.
6 ROBOTICS TEAM REPRESENTS SINGAPORE
IN MATE INTERNATIONAL ROV COMPETITION
SAS finished 32nd in the 15th annual MATE International ROV Competition from June 23 to June 25, 2016 at the NASA Johnson Space Center’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab in Houston, Texas. The competition challenges K-12, community college, and university students from all over the world to design and build remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs) to tackle missions. The SAS team—led by teachers Bart Millar and Meredeith White—are Colin Clark, Aaron Cruz, Alyssa Garner, Sohit Gatiganti, Vijayendra Jagtap, Sae Jin Jang, Alex Lem, James Quek, Rohan Sahu, Dalen Ward, and Natalie Weinrauch.
SAS TEACHERS CO-AUTHOR
7 “CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT
IN THE DIGITAL AGE”
Former SAS teacher Heather Dowd and high school technology integration specialist Patrick Green co-authored Classroom Management in the Digital Age published by EdTechTeam Press. The book discusses how K-12 teachers can harness technological tools to maximize collaboration, creativity, and communication with students in the classroom, and is available for purchase online.
8 RIYA AHUJA WINS GOLFWEEK
MIDWEST JUNIOR INVITATIONAL
High school junior Riya Ahuja won the 2016 Golfweek Midwest Junior Invitational at the Cog Hill Golf & Country Club at Lemont, IL in June. Travelling the US and playing in various golf tournaments and qualifiers, Riya also finished fourth in two other tournaments and had a top 10 finish in another!
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SOPHOMORE WINS TWO GOLDS
9 AND TWO SILVERS AT ARTISTIC
High school sophomore Sara Arora won two gold medals (floor and vault) and two silver medals (balance beam and uneven bars), coming in in the overall first place in level five at the June 2016 Singapore Gymnastics Open Championships’ Artistic Gymnastics competition.
10 SEVENTH GRADER WINS TWO
RHYTHMIC GYMNASTICS CHAMPIONSHIP GOLDS
Seventh grader Sarasa N. won two gold medals (hoop and clubs) at the 2016 Singapore Gymnastics Open Championships’ Rhythmic Gymnastics competition.
11 SIXTH GRADERS COMPETE IN THE RAFFLES INSTITUTION INTER-PRIMARY
SCHOOL DEBATE TOURNAMENT
A sixth grade team debated in the Raffles Institution Inter-Primary School Debate Tournament in August. This was the first time in recent memory that Singapore American School entered a national debate competition held at this level. The team comprising Kevin H., Leyton S., Gaurav G., and David W. debated motions regarding changing Singapore’s national language from Malay to English; prioritizing studentled discussions over teacher-led ones; and banning fast food advertisements. Kevin and Gaurav won Best Speaker during the rounds of debate. The team was coached by high school teacher Devin Kay.
12 SECOND GRADER WINS SILVER
AT 2016 PASTORELLI CUP FOR RHYTHMIC GYMNASTICS
Second grader Reika L. won a silver in her age category at the Pastorelli Cup 2016 International Tournament in Rhythmic Gymnastics in Nuremberg, Germany this past June.
13 CHINESE LANGUAGE TEACHER
GUEST ON MORNING NEWS SHOW
Elementary school Chinese language teacher Mr. Pauli Haakenson was featured on the Mediacorp Channel 8 Chinese-language news and talk show Hello Singapore in August. He shared his approach to teaching Mandarin and his life in Singapore with the audience.
14 SAS JUNIOR WINS INTERNATIONAL VOLLEYBALL COMPETITION Junior Kilani Daane and her teammate Yupa Phukrongploy won the Hock Seng Heng Singapore Beach Volleyball National Series. This is the third tournament the pair have won together. They beat current and former national team players and teams from Singapore, Hong Kong, and Macau. The win moved Kilani into the number one ranked position here in Singapore.
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16 SAS HOSTS FIFTH EDTECHTEAM
17 FOURTH GRADER WINS BRONZE
Singapore American School hosted the fifth annual EdTechTeam Singapore Summit featuring Google for Education in September. Participants discussed personalized learning, blended learning, makery, coding, and computational thinking.
Fourth grader Ella Se-ryung Y. represented SAS at the seventh Singapore Sports Association National Schools Synchronised Swimming Championships in Singapore in July and came in third place in the open junior solo free routine finals.
SINGAPORE SUMMIT FEATURING GOOGLE FOR EDUCATION
IN SYNCHRONIZED SWIMMING
18 STUDENTS INVITED TO HEAR UNITED NATIONS
High school students Liam Galey, Janvi Kalra, Aditi Mahesh, Nigel Li, Leland Jones, Jacqueline Routhier, Lilian Wilson, Hayden Reeves, Armando Gabriel Di Cicco, and Harri Gascoigne were invited to attend the Ho Rih Hwa Leadership in Asia Public Lecture Series held in August with SAS teachers. United Nations Secretary-General, His Excellency Ban Ki-moon, graced the event as distinguished speaker.
19 ONE IN TWO MILLION: ALUMNA WINS
USA GIRL SCOUT NATIONAL YOUNG WOMEN OF DISTINCTION AWARD
Recent graduate Hanna Chuang has been named a National Young Women of Distinction recipient. The National Young Women of Distinction award is an honor awarded to only 10 registered USA Girl Scouts every year—10 out of nearly two million! The National Young Women of Distinction award is given to USA Girl Scout Seniors and Ambassadors whose Gold Award projects demonstrated extraordinary leadership, had a measurable and sustainable impact, and addressed a local challenge related to a national and/or global issue. For her Gold Award project, Hanna co-founded a Rural Education and Development (READ) service club at Singapore American School to help fundraise and increase awareness of the READ Global program in Bhutan. Thanks to Hanna’s project, a READ Bhutan center was opened in Yangthang Village, reaching 12,000 villagers with educational and training resources. The service club at #SASedu will continue to help provide resources to READ Bhutan which makes the project sustainable, a requirement of the Gold Award.
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40 woodlands street 41 Singapore 738547 Phone: (65) 6363 3403 WEB: WWW.SAS.EDU.SG QUESTIONS? EMAIL US AT COMMUNICATIONS@SAS.EDU.SG CPE Registration No.: 196400340R Registration Period: 22 June 2011 to 21 June 2017 Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Â© 2016 Singapore American School All rights reserved.