Transforming Education from the Inside Out: Singapore American School

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Two years ago, Singapore American School (SAS) Superintendent, Dr. Chip Kimball opened the school year by saying “Have ‘courage to call into question the practices that have been done for many years’ in order to do what’s best for students.” His words were more than just part of a welcome address, they are the practice that SAS has followed since the development of their 2020 Strategic Plan. Transformation is no easy feat, especially for an institution that has a history of excellence spanning over 60 years, with a student body of nearly 4,000 students. And yet, SAS has proven that even large institutions, with excellent programming and results, can continually improve in order to do what’s best for all students.

In 2016 we released the case study, Creating the Future of Learning, which was based on a March 2016 visit that highlighted SAS’ progress towards their strategic plan. In October 2018, our team had the opportunity to visit SAS once again to observe how the school has remarkably continued to demonstrate they are a great school known for its “culture of excellence, possibility and extraordinary care.” The updated case study highlights 20 signs of progress in talent development, care and guidance, and high impact teaching. Kimball and Deputy Superintendent, Dr. Jennifer Sparrow expanded upon these areas in the podcast, 20 Signs of Progress at Singapore American School.

Wide scale change can happen in a variety of ways, and SAS has proven that the strategy of working from the edges, and taking advantage of openings where they exist, has lasting results. Specifically, this approach has been impactful with these approaches:

  • Building faculty capacity and teacher leadership (eg. 160 teachers are in leadership roles).
  • High-quality implementation across many dimensions of the 2020 plan.
  • Taking an action research approach to facilities development/renovation—updated spaces and configurations that both illustrate and investigate the future state.
  • Bookend features of the student experience in the Reggio inspired Early Learning Center and the Quest program in the high school.
  • Holding in tension an impressive commitment to updating a shared understanding of what’s best for young people and what parents want for young people.

Read more in the full school case study–download here.

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Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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