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50 Things You’ll

Love About Our School


hi T 0

ll Love About Ou ’ u o Y rS n gs




e’re happy you’re reading this guide and that you’re interested in learning more about Shanghai American School. We have many wonderful programs and we hope you’ll enjoy finding more about everything we have to offer. If there’s only one thing that you take away from this guide, let it be this: it’s all about our students. Whether it is new parents or veteran teachers, alumni or admission officers, we all come together to ensure our students have the best education, in the most supportive environment, and with the greatest opportunities for their future. 1

Our Heritage

We have a long history in China—over a century in fact. When we first opened our doors, on September 17, 1912, we boasted 38 students. By the 1920s, we had attracted over 500 students in kindergarten through grade 12. We closed in 1950, following the change in government in China, and reopened in 1980. Today we are the largest international school in China and have two campuses, one in Pudong and one in Puxi. We are proud of our unique history—and of our active alumni, many of whom who were students during the pre-1949 period. 2

It’s All About Our Students

Gone are the days of neat orderly rows of desks with pupils sitting quietly while the teacher bestows knowledge upon the silent students. In fact, those days never really happened at SAS. Students are encouraged to push limits and ask impossible questions. Teachers invite students to sit at round tables that facilitate discussion and teamwork. Whenever possible, the students are out of their seats working together, building something from scratch, and using technology to enhance their learning experience. As long as the students are at the center of the process, the possibilities are endless.


Leaders of the Pack

High school at Shanghai American School provides a rigorous academic program with an emphasis on personal growth for all students. Our talented teaching staff, supported by exceptional resources, strives to create an environment of high achievement without antagonistic competitiveness, where academic rigor and creativity are celebrated side by side. In addition to core classes, high school students have the opportunity to explore more than 45 International Baccalaureate (IB) courses and Advanced Placement (AP) courses. As the only international school in China to offer students the variety and choice of IB and AP coursework, our counselors and teachers are dedicated to helping students decide the path that is right for them. Determining whether to pursue the IB diploma program or IB courses is an important decision to make as a family. Students have the option of taking individual higher and standard level IB courses for certificates or pursuing the full IB diploma. The IB diploma program, recognized by universities and schools around the world, ensures an increased adaptability and mobility for IB students. The curriculum focuses on international perspectives of learning and teaching, while insisting that students fully explore their home culture and language. The core components of the IB program encourage students to participate in creative and service-oriented activities, while at the same time emphasizing the importance of reflection on a personal and academic level. Students who score well on higher-level IB examinations are eligible for credit at many universities. Through a spectrum of college-level Advanced Placement courses and exams, students have the opportunity to earn credit or advanced standing at many American colleges and universities. Students who choose AP courses should exhibit a strong curiosity about the subject and the willingness to work hard. AP courses help students develop study habits necessary for tackling rigorous course work. Through college-level AP courses, students study subjects in greater depth and detail. We encourage students and their families to discuss with a counselor or AP teacher the workload and preparation required for success in AP course work. Students who sign up for AP coursework have the opportunity to improve their writing skills and sharpen problem-solving techniques.


Celebrity Sightings

Barack Obama, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Kobe Bryant made appearances at SAS recently. At the grade 3 wax museum, students display their studies of historical and contemporary figures. Frozen until their button is pushed, the students then come to life as a famous person showing that they have learned how to research, study history, speak in public, and design costumes. Perhaps the most adorable costumes in all of Shanghai. Take, for instance, Leonardo di Vinci! 5

The Nitty Gritty

We are a private, not-for-profit, coeducational, international school owned by the SAS Parent Association and governed by a board of directors elected from and by the parents of the school. But what does this really mean? In short, it means that all tuition goes directly into academic programs and services for the students. The oversight of these funds is under the charge of parents and our superintendent. It’s a system that ensures that the focus of the school is always student centered. 6

How Our Gardens Grow

In our challenge to be as “green” as possible, it’s no surprise that Roots & Shoots is arguably our most popular student club. Backed by the Jane Goodall Institute, Roots & Shoots oversees comprehensive campus recycling programs, a beautiful outdoor garden, the farming of organic vegetables and herbs, and much more. During our five years of participation, we have been able to purchase and plant more than 17,000 trees in Inner Mongolia, which equates to clearing almost 4.5 million kilograms of carbon dioxide.


Pomp and Circumstance

Last year our 387 graduates received over 800 acceptances to more than 244 colleges and universities around the world—including some rather big names. Enough said.


At Your Command

Dreaming of having an army of robots at your command? Better yet, an army of robots built with Legos? Then consider the Lego Robotics program, an after school activity with future engineers in mind. Not only is the club a great way to compete with other robot minions, it also teaches students teamwork, problem solving, computer programming, engineering, and design. 9

Real Life Learning

High school science teachers from both campuses joined forces to take students on an inaugural trip to the Lake Tai Science Field Station this year. On a mountainous peninsula along the lake’s northern shore, students monitored the effects of development on the area’s ecosystem, giving them a chance to do “real science” and contribute to a greater understanding of the region in a meaningful way.

Taking the Lead

You may have heard that our teachers are some of the best and brightest in town. This is absolutely true, and one of the reasons they are is because they don’t just preach the idea of learning—they’re dedicated to learning as well. More than 60 percent of our teachers have a master’s degree or higher. And if they aren’t pursuing higher degrees they are presenting at conferences, attending workshops, and learning all they can about developments in their field. Our teachers are lifelong learners that lead by example, and that’s what makes them the best.



Both Sides Now

We have two campuses, one in Pudong and one in Puxi. We consider ourselves an international community with over 3,200 students and countless more family and friends.


Teacher’s Pets

When asked to describe two of their classmates, grade 2 students will tell you that one is “naughty and curious” and the other is “shy and cute.” They also want you to know that their classmates like to chew on paper. Thankfully, the students are referring to Read-To-Me and Dr. Rodent—the classroom rabbit and guinea pig. Not only adorable, the animals help the students learn about ecology, compassion, and caring for others. And they are great listeners as the students practice their reading skills. 13

Good Eggs

Through the EggsChange program, student service volunteers from both campuses have helped raise the standard of living for dozens of farmers in Jiangxi province, and provide SAS teachers and families with fresh organic eggs. At the program’s peak, more than 100 boxes of eggs were distributed each week, providing a healthy income for the farmers to reinvest in their families and communities.


Global Connections

The relationship that SAS has with the Jacaranda School for Orphans in Malawi, Africa, started with the passion and vision of one high school teacher. Soon our entire community adopted his vision and have since worked together to raise money to donate supplies to students at the Jacaranda school. Including solar powered lamps so the students can continue their studies after dark without the need for electricity. Twice a year, groups of faculty and students travel to Malawi to bring supplies, visit the students, learn about the local culture, and further solidify our long-standing friendship.


Support Systems

For those high school students who want to go the extra mile on writing assignments but need a little help along the way, the writing center is the place to be. It is a service that is common on college campuses in the US, but unique to international schools. Students get the chance to work one-on-one with a faculty member on any part of the writing process from brainstorming ideas to noting citations. Students get to drop in during writing center hours and build strong relationships with the faculty in the process. 16


Crossing Wires

A highly anticipated event in the middle school, the Interdisciplinary Unit takes students on a departure from the usual curriculum for two weeks to explore a particular subject from the perspective of multiple academic disciplines. For example, grade 6 students became Egyptologists for the week. They dissected and mummified frogs (science), studied ancient Egyptian rituals (social studies), designed sarcophaguses (art), and survived the curse of the pharaoh (whew!).

Shop ‘til You Drop

Home to an astonishing variety of ways to show your school spirit, the Eagle Shops are the place to get geared up for school or to just show some school spirit. Whether you need to grab an extra notebook or buy a gift for a friend back home, the Eagle Shop has just what you need. Most importantly, the parent volunteers in the shop love to have kids and parents stop by just to say “hi” or “Go, Eagles!” 18

Ni hui shuo zhong wen ma?

We may be the American School, but we have a whole team of teachers meeting the high demand from our students to learn to speak, read, and write Mandarin. More than 2,300 students elect to take Mandarin courses where they learn the language and Chinese culture from more than 40 dedicated teachers. These students are chatting with local vendors and giving their parents a lesson in proper pronunciation in no time.


Small but Mighty

One of the most important events of your child’s life is the first day of school. At SAS we take the responsibility of providing a safe and nurturing learning environment very seriously. Our teachers work together to create a welcoming environment that is developmentally appropriate, fosters independence, and encourages a passion for learning through authentic exploration and hands-on experiences. In addition to their remarkable linguistic and cognitive gains, early childhood students will exhibit dramatic progress in their emotional, social, and moral capacities. All of these critical dimensions of early development are intertwined, and each requires focused attention by our staff. But what does a day in the life of an elementary school student at SAS look like? Students spend each day learning fundamental subjects such as: language arts, science, math, and social studies. They also benefit from learning specialist subjects such as: Chinese language and culture, art, physical education, library research, computer research, and music.

One thing that our early childhood teachers and students take very seriously is the importance of play. Play is the natural way in which children learn about themselves and the world around them. We encourage children’s play by providing an environment that supports and develops their play. They develop ideas, create, use their imagination, and talk about what they see and experience. This in turn helps them to discriminate between fantasy and reality. We also have several after school activities pairing high school students with elementary school students for opportunities to learn together. High school students on the Pudong campus participate in the Reading Buddy program with grade one students. Student leaders in the Roots and Shoots Club reach out to teach elementary students about the benefits of going green. Regardless of their role, everyone at SAS celebrates the youngest members of our community.


Center Stage

You may have heard a thing or two about the passion our students have for all things education. If your passion is best placed center stage with all eyes on you, then the Performing Arts Center on the Puxi campus is going to be your new favorite hang out in Shanghai. Incidentally, students choreograph and star in a dance performance each spring that is actually called Passion.


The teachers and students take the responsibility of welcoming all of the new faces we see every year very seriously, so seriously that there’s a group of kids whose sole task it is to do just that. The Eagle Ambassadors can be found at a variety of events from new family orientation to greeting families at recruiting events around Shanghai. An Eagle Ambassador may even be the person that handed you this awesome book. You can’t miss them. They’ll be the students with red t-shirts on and ready to lend a helping hand. 23


The Great Outdoors

As a community, we are dedicated to making this world a better place for future generations. Our students have planted and maintained fruit and vegetable gardens on both campuses. They even have mini farmers markets during lunch to sell their produce. Right across from one of these gardens is state-of-the-art playground equipment for our elementary students to explore and enjoy during recess.

On the Front Lines

The Edge for Excellence

Prepare yourself, because you might be a little shocked by what you are about to read. More than half of the items on this list are the result of time, treasure, and talent donated to the Annual Fund. This Annual Fund is one of the programs supported by our Giving at SAS campaign. Giving at SAS underwrites many of the supplemental programs and opportunities for our students that are not covered by the core operating budget. More importantly, it’s our way of turning visions and dreams into reality and staying on the cutting edge of international education. 24

On Your Marks... Get Set...Eagles!

Learning opportunities happen both inside and outside the classroom, and SAS coaches know the positive impact that team sports can have in the lives of young athletes. Athletes take mark as they travel from Seoul, Korea down to Manila, Philippines in the Asia Pacific Activities Conference (APAC). Our sports range from rugby and swimming to table tennis and basketball, and our students are immersed in various cultures as international travelers and star athletes.


Counselors that Care

High school is one of the busiest times and often one of the most challenging times for students, which is why we have a team of counselors dedicated to supporting and encouraging students. One of the tools in our counselors’ toolkits is Naviance—an innovative software program that increases student engagement, while connecting parents with counselors and administrators. The counselors get to know each student and help them decide what’s next after graduation, whether it is college, a gap year, or the military, they are prepared to help your child make the decision that’s right for them.


Talking the Talk

Over half of our students speak another language in addition to English—and many of our students are proficient in even more by the time they graduate. While instruction is in English, we still encourage students to maintain their mother tongues. In a recent grade 9 and 10 story telling unit, students wrote stories in English and their native tongue. They then told these stories to younger students that share their native tongue. It was a testament to multilingualism, community, global citizenship, and our commitment to students from all backgrounds. 28

Stroke of Genius

Without the team of teachers dedicated to making a splash in the lives of the SAS community, our aquatics centers would just be state-of-the-art facilities. Combine the facilities with the awesome staff and you get a place where the whole community comes together to learn, lap it up, or cheer each other on at competitions. 26

Food, Glorious Food

Our students have the opportunity to choose from a balanced menu of food provided by a catering company. There are a variety of options including Asia and Western meals, a salad bar, a sandwich bar, and plenty of a la carte and vegetarian options.


Living Outside the “Bubble”

It started with a simple question: How to connect students growing up in an expatriate “bubble” in Shanghai with a completely different side of their host country. Our students live in China, but their experiences are generally limited to large urban areas, with travel experiences usually limited to short-terms exposures to “Chinese culture” as presented by the tourism industry. Having traveled extensively during his first decade of living in China, Microcampus founder Craig Tafel was profoundly affected by the “real China” that he discovered during his travels. Beyond the usual sites, sounds, and souvenir stands that define modern travel in China, a fascinating picture of modern China emerged. Well beyond the shadows of skyscrapers, snarled traffic, and urban sprawl could be found some of the world’s most remarkable, wise, strong, patient, generous people—people with wisdom to share, stories to tell, and lives worthy of tremendous respect. The challenge, of course, was to find a way to bring students to this place—not for a day or a week, but for enough time to allow students to become truly immersed in the daily life of a small village. After a particularly inspiring visit to Xizhou, Yunnan province, a seed was planted. With that, Tafel began having conversations with hundreds of friends, colleagues, students, parents, administrators and, most importantly, people in the village of Xizhou about the possibility of bringing students to spend a significant part of the school year living and learning in a place that is far away from their usual routines in nearly every possible way. After more than two years, thousands of bits of advice from community members and countless logistical challenges, the first group made the 2000-plus kilometer journey from Shanghai to Xizhou. This brave group of 11 grade 8 students spent a month away from Shanghai during the school year, not knowing what to expect from such an experience. Through the sore ankles, occasional stomachaches, adapting to local plumbing, and perhaps a bit of nagging from their chaperones, the first group paved the way to an expanded, more polished program. Above all else, the students positive approach made it all worth doing again and again. A second Microcampus in Lushan, Jiangxi province, will launch in 2013. The discoveries that students make about China—and themselves—serve as the fuel that drives the project forward. As students spend their days immersed in experiences that are designed to maximize exposure to the four goals of the Microcampus (experiential learning, personal growth, expanding intercultural understanding, and having a positive impact), they make important connections to the world outside “the bubble.”


The Great Wall of Pudong

If you strive to reach new heights, then you should pay a visit to our Pudong campus and check out our rock climbing wall. Students, teachers, and parents utilize this awesome space to keep their bodies and minds agile. The sky is the limit.


We’re aware that a Parent Teacher Student Association isn’t unique to SAS, but we can say our PTSA is rather amazing and their events never disappoint. For example, the International Fair and the Fall Carnival events provide a day of fun for the entire community. We are proud of the fact that we are an international community, and the PTSA is the glue that keeps us together. 34


Extra! Extra!

Our students are always on-the-go. So on-thego it makes it hard to keep up-to-date with all everything that’s going on. Lucky for us our school magazine, The Eagle Review, helps keep our community informed with the latest and most interesting happenings. The articles vary widely and topics include a dolphin safari in New Zealand, a trip to the NASA Space Academy in Alabama, traveling to a school for orphans in Malawi, or a band trip to Myanmar—and that was just one issue. 32

Future Leaders in Action Today

Student voices are valued at SAS and they believe there is no better way to contribute to the community than by taking a leadership role including the athletic council, president of a club, or in student government. Each individual has the power to make a positive impact at SAS.

The Heart of it All

The Wheels on the Bus

With the impressive size of our community comes an impressive fleet of busses—second only to the public bus system in Shanghai. We have more than 170 busses and drivers that run like clockwork on a weekly basis. The team of experts in the transportation office takes the task of moving our students, faculty, and staff to and from campus very seriously. 35


Globally, college students find that online courses are increasingly part of their curriculum. SAS students benefit from opportunities to learn beyond the blend of face-to-face and internet-based learning that already takes place before they reach their university years. These cross-campus course offerings include some really interesting topics like astronomy and meteorology, Chinese art history, business management, and criminal justice.


Please Don’t Stop the Music

We’ve always been a musically inclined community, dating back to 1947 when two of our alumni composed and wrote the words for the school’s first alma mater hymn, “Fair is the Name We Love.” Since then, both SAS teachers and students have been recognized for their talents as composers and musicians. We offer music opportunities from elementary school through grade 12 and our students travel all over the world to perform and learn with other international schools.


Words from the Wise

Once a year, the PTSA and high school counselors combine forces to offer high school students an experience that could change their lives forever: Career Day. Last year, more than 30 different speakers visited students in small groups to speak about their careers and life experiences that led them to Shanghai. Lawyers, NPR’s Shanghai correspondent, engineers, the vice president of supply chain for McDonald’s China, doctors, and even teachers all volunteered to share their wisdom with students. To let you in on a little secret, the teachers get just as excited for Career Day as the students do, that’s how cool these speakers really are.


The Community Connection

SAS has been a supporter in many ways of the Community Center Shanghai (CCS), and vice versa. SAS is proud to be a founding partner of the CCS Minhang location, and proud to work together in many ways. One way is The Giving Tree, a charitable organization that works with CCS to bring gifts and supplies to needy migrant children during the holiday season. Teachers, parents, and students all come together to support this charity each year.


Date with Dad

At SAS we know that the international lifestyle can sometimes get a bit hectic. To break up the chaos, elementary school students and their dads set aside an afternoon to bond, play games, and have a rockin’ good time. Our school psychologist even participates by offering a workshop for dads about encouraging strengths in their children.


Spotlight on the Offseason

In Shanghai, a lot of our families head out of town for the summer. But for those that stay, the Summer Programs at SAS are the perfect way to fill the days with friends and new learning opportunities. Maybe you want to refine your Mandarin language skills, maybe you want to spend some time in the pool, or maybe you want to dust off your camera and learn from a pro. The opportunities are endless, and the variety of programming gets better every year. 41

Model Students

Last year more than 230 SAS students from both campuses participated in Model United Nations conferences around the world. Representing countries from Australia to Syria, students worked with representatives from many countries on complex issues like human rights or economic sanctions. Students reinforced the important skills of collaboration and compromise, as well as honed their skills in research, writing, and debate. Students attended 11 conferences and even hosted one of their own. 42

Bragging Rights

All of our alumni are great, but we are especially eager to drop a few names. Like Joseph Wampler, a NASA astronomer, Katherine Paterson, author of Bridge to Terabithia, and Stapleton Roy, former U.S. Ambassador to China. Some of our more recent grads include an Oscar awards presenter, Miss Korea, and a Thiel Fellow. Not bad company, right? 43


We have more than 140,400 resources in our library collection, and it’s the largest English language book collection in China. We also have a team of six librarians that love everything that has anything to do with books. We have an elementary and secondary library on each campus, but they don’t have just books in them. We have Kindles, iPads, computers, and plenty of comfy spaces to curl up with a book and learn something new.


Something for Everyone

With more than 3,200 students you’d think we would have trouble keeping everyone entertained after school. This is not a problem we are familiar with; we boast more than 150 co-curricular activities for students in all divisions and on both campuses to participate in. Some of the activities include the Community Service club that sends students out once a week to volunteer to spend time with seniors at a local senior center, or to read with students at a migrant school. Other activities give students an outlet for their creativity like the Dance Team, Film Club, and the National Art Honor Society.

Other activities, like the Association of Music in International Schools (AMIS) gives choir, orchestra and band students the opportunity to travel to festivals and host fellow musicians at SAS. One of the most popular activities is the Animal Rescue Club. Students visit a local animal shelter to help clean and care for animals, foster animals, and rehome them. They also encourage the community to showcase their pets while raising money for the animal shelter in the annual Pets of SAS Calendar. To keep all of the different options, opportunities, and permission slips in order, we have activities directors and teams of people on both campuses. Even with the wide variety, students are invited to start new clubs and to seek out faculty members to serve as mentors. There truly is something for everyone at SAS.


Learning From the Pros

Our librarians get together and invite the coolest authors and illustrators to come and share their talents with our students. Author and illustrator of the popular children’s book Dinotopia, James Gurney, had kids on the edge of their seats as he drew a T-Rex jumping from rooftops to get from the Pudong campus to the Puxi campus for a soccer game. And we can’t forget the author of Captain Underpants, Kevin Lewis, who had kids in stitches when he arrived for a reading with a giant pair of underpants. 47


Making an Impact

Another popular way to get involved at SAS is through Habitat for Humanity. More than 100 high school students took part in over 10 Habitat for Humanity trips last year— including to Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Nepal, China, Malaysia, Cambodia, and the Philippines. Students dug trenches, made bricks, removed debris, built scaffolding, and made lifelong memories and lasting friendships. But most importantly, they helped provide shelter to many families in need.

How ‘Bout Them Apples

Gone are the days of leaving an apple on a teacher’s desk, now there’s one in the hands of every student. Technology is an important part of learning at SAS, and our teachers work closely with students to use this technology wisely to enhance learning. Starting in middle school, every single student has an Apple laptop to use. There is also one teacher in every division whose sole job it is to help students and teachers harness the power of technology. One final benefit of being an Apple 1:1 school, each campus has its very own licensed Apple Service Center to support and maintain all this technology.


Embracing Local Culture

Need any travel advice? Ask any of our students in grades 6 to 10. Each year each student participates in various China Alive trips. Some trips are more adventurous, while others are more cultural, but each trip is designed to connect students with various parts of China through a non-classroom environment.


Soaring High

We are honored to have the eagle as our mascot. This Native American blessing sums up what we wish for our student eagles: May you have the strength of eagle’s wings,
the faith and courage to fly to new heights,
and the wisdom of the universe to carry you there.


Join Our Community

We’ve covered a lot of ground, and if any of the previous 49 things appealed to you, we want you to get in touch and become a part of this community. We have a team of admission officers that are particularly passionate about helping families transition into the SAS community. Assessments and interviews are done with prospective students to benchmark their ability and potential with our present student body. Our admission officers would happily discuss the American curriculum at SAS and how we focus on student-centered learning from pre-kindergarten through high school. They will also emphasize that the mission statement and core values guide our students, faculty, staff, and parents in understanding the expectations and standards of the SAS community—a community of people dedicated to giving of their time, treasure and talent to enhance the school. If you’re interested in applying, you should know that we accept students year-round. If you are interested in joining SAS, you should start the application process in September for the following school year that begins in August. If you’re applying for the second semester that starts in January, start the application process in July. Our admissions team is prepared to answer any questions you may have about joining our community. We look forward to hearing from you. Email: Call: +86 21 6221 1445 Visit:

Our Mission Shanghai American School inspires in all students: 上海美国学校要激励所有学生: A lifelong passion for learning 具有终身热爱学习的激情 A commitment to act with integrity and compassion 具有诚信和同情心 The courage to live their dreams. 具有实现梦想的勇气。

Shanghai American School Pudong Campus

Shanghai Links Executive Community, 1600 Lingbai Road, Sanjiagang, Pudong New Area, Shanghai, China 201201 Tel: 6221-1445, Fax: 5897-0011

Puxi Campus

258 Jinfeng Road, Huacao Town, Minhang District, Shanghai, China 201107 Tel: 6221-1445, Fax: 6221-1269

50 Things You'll Love About Our School