The AIS Framework for the Future represents the school’s approach to teaching and learning. At its heart lies the school’s founding principles of Justice, Knowledge, and Love. Guided by these core ‘values’, the educational program at AIS is designed to promote student learning that is Social, Personal and Applied. The talented teachers at AIS take responsibility for creating engaging, student-centered learning environments. The goal is to inspire students with a school experience that is relevant, progressive and focussed on the future. Across the school teaching and learning is supported by increasingly flexible classroom configurations and specialist furniture designed to enhance the learning experience for each student. Energized by an exciting vision of the future, AIS has adopted a progressive approach to the educational programs it offers. In addition to traditional academic courses, engineering, digital design, and robotics are increasingly popular choices for students as they begin to position themselves for a future job market that they recognize is both unpredictable and exciting. A good example of this is the high school’s annual ‘Collide’ program which brings young entrepreneurs and start-ups into the school to meet and work with students. By fostering these relationships, high school students at AIS have earned internships, built networks and experienced real-world learning.
AIS is fully accredited by the US accrediting organization, WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) and offers a recognized and respected college-prep, US standards-based, academic program. Over the years, AIS has traditionally excelled in Liberal Arts, Visual Art, and higher-level Mathematics. By developing strong foundational skills in literacy and math, each student is prepared to confidently pursue the rigorous academic courses that make up the AIS curricular program. The high school offers a wide choice of Advanced Placement (AP) courses including the option for students to pursue the AP Capstone program in their final two years. AIS graduates consistently earn admission to highly selective universities and colleges both in the US and internationally. The AIS faculty is internationally diverse, highly qualified and extremely talented. Teachers at AIS are encouraged to think like designers. They frequently work in teams focussed on standards-based assessments, unit-design, and increasingly inter-disciplinary project-based learning. There is a highly collaborative working culture at AIS.
At AIS digital learning spaces are considered just as important as the physical spaces that traditionally represent a school. Technology is omnipresent in all aspects of learning across the campus. Several years ago the school successfully implemented a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy for students from grades 5 to 12. Laptops and mobile devices are powerful tools that teachers and students use daily to leverage and enhance learning. There are school-issued Chromebooks in grades 3 and 4, as well as an iPad program for students in Early Childhood through grade 2. As a school, AIS embraces technology and promotes the growth of well-informed digital citizens.
Developing well-rounded individuals is one of the school’s Expected Schoolwide Learning Results (ESLRs). Nurturing students to view their own learning as an ongoing journey and not simply the pursuit of grades is a challenge that AIS takes seriously. For example, the annual Outdoor Education and Leadership Program (OELP), or ‘Adventure Week’ is a major highlight in the school calendar. For more than 15 years, AIS has built strong and sustainable partnerships with a variety of NGOs and service providers both in Hong Kong and the wider Asian region. Every fall, students from Grade 5 through Grade 12 participate in the program with a focus on personal growth, teamwork, and demanding community service projects. The elementary school also runs a series of residential camps in Hong Kong to help students begin building the skills they will need for Adventure Week. Through intentional feedback and reflection, students and teachers develop greater personal awareness, a deeper sense of place and purpose, and most importantly a chance to build empathy and understanding. Developing these soft skills is an essential component of the educational experience at AIS.
Although the AIS campus does not include expansive sporting facilities, the school has a flourishing athletics and sports program. This is driven by a highly talented and deeply committed Physical Education and Health Department, as well as a team of dedicated teacher coaches. The school is a long-standing member of the Hong Kong International Schools Sports Federation (HKISSF) with strong representation across its 4 sporting seasons. In recent years the school has celebrated championship winning teams, both boys and girls, in basketball, volleyball, and badminton as well as medals in cross-country and track and field. Students today are increasingly interested in developing their physical health and well-being. There is an active culture across the campus that includes frequent lunchtime inter-house competitions involving students and staff, as well as a highly involved athletics council and a variety of after-school sports clubs.
Student-wellbeing and health are important issues for schools. At AIS a heavy emphasis is placed on building strong and supportive student support systems. In its simplest form, this means every teacher at AIS is expected to be a student advocate; someone who seeks to build open and positive relationships with students and families. Indeed, AIS is very proud of the connectedness students and teachers feel across the school. Building on this, counseling services are being expanded to include a dedicated counselor in each division as well as a lead counselor to coordinate schoolwide programs, support systems, and child-safety policies and procedures.
The school recently announced the appointment of a new Head of School, who will join AIS in August 2019. Anita Simpson is a proven educational leader, award-winning innovator, and experienced international educator. She has been a Superintendent, Head of School, and Principal for over 15 years in schools from K-12, each offering a wide range of curricula and programs including AP, IB, American and Canadian curricula. Her work as a Superintendent of Program and Innovation included the development, implementation, and supervision of curricula from K-12 for 104 schools and over 51,000 students in a large district in Canada. Prior to moving to Dubai, where she has been leading the amalgamation of two elementary schools in a new, purpose-built campus, she worked extensively in international education with Dr. Michael Fullan, as Canadian Cluster Lead for New Pedagogies for Deep Learning (NPDL), a global learning lab involving seven countries from around the world, including Finland, Uruguay, The Netherlands, USA, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.