Cebu International School: Developing Student’s Careers to Build a Better World

Cebu International School’s mission lies in creating a collaborative, challenging, and nurturing school environment that involves community members in order to provide a contemporary international education to develop the unique potential of students to contribute to a better world.

The Journey of Excellence

Cebu International School (CIS) was established in 1924 as Cebu American School. It has grown from a modest five room schoolhouse to a custom built campus with all the modern facilities needed to run a quality program. In 1976, Cebu American School changed its name to Cebu International School to better reflect the diverse makeup of the student body and evolving nature of its curriculum.

In the initial years, the school was situated in Gorordo Avenue, Lahug, Cebu City, but later moved to Banilad, where 2.3 hectares of land was leased from the provincial government. CIS then shifted to new permanent purpose built 3.2 hectare campus in Pit-os, a leafy suburb in northern Cebu City. The campus comprises 7,500 square meters of instructional space, featuring 49 classrooms, laboratories, administration offices, specialist arts rooms (drama, music and visual arts), dance studio, design tech kitchen, library media centre complete with conference and study rooms, two gymnasiums, two playgrounds, a full- sized grass sports field with a viewing deck, and a canteen with two kitchens and food kiosks. The car park caters for up to 150 cars and the compound is a closed campus with extensive network of CCTV. The campus is well-secured by a team of guards for 24 hours and 7 days a week.

CIS is a private “community-owned” preschool 2 through grade 12 school, providing a quality international education to children of both expat and local families, preparing them for universities of their choice around the world. CIS challenges students to be globally engaged, positive contributors in a competitive, changing world. More specifically, CIS is a non-stock, non-profit, self-sustaining corporation, governed by a Board of Trustees elected from the parent body.

The Pillars Contributing to the Success of CIS

Dr. Gwyn Underwood is the Superintendent of CIS and is currently into his third successful year leading CIS. He believes the essence of his role is to enable all members of the school community to focus on facilitating the learning of students. The CIS community is comprised of students, parents, and a dedicated team of faculty and staff who work with parents and students to contribute to the success of the students. Dr. Underwood recognizes the importance of both parents and  teachers as being critical to the success of the school, as per research, they are the ones who have the most direct impact on student’s learning (parents at home, and teachers at school). Of course the students themselves play a significant role in their own endeavours, and the school administration, business office and support staff, and other family members also all play a crucial role in the success of students at CIS.

Rewards of Excellence

The US-based Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Accrediting Commission accredited CIS in 1996, and was also accredited by the international accrediting agency, the Council of International Schools, in May 2008. With due respect towards its host country, CIS is also proud to have been accredited by the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAASCU) since 2013. CIS was authorized as an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School in October 1999, becoming the first school in the Visaya and Mindanao regions to receive authorization to offer the reputable Diploma Programme (DP). It also gained recognition as an educational institute from the Philippine Government in February 2003, by being granted official status by Republic Act 9190 as an educational institution of international character. This act gives CIS government approval to operate an international program independent to the Department of Education. Such recognition has only been granted to three schools in the Philippines, and CIS is proud to be the only school in the Visayas and Mindanao regions to receive it. The IB program offerings were also subsequently expanded with authorization to offer the Primary Years Programme (PYP) in 2014, and the school is currently in the process of implementing the Middle Years Programme (MYP) in grades 6-10, so as to provide a full IB continuum to students.

Cultivating Socio-economic and Cultural Values in Students

The IB philosophy has a strong focus on international mindedness and global contexts, and teachers at every level consider aspects of various cultures while planning their units, so as to foster an understanding for others who are different to themselves, and to appreciate the socio-economic challenges and rich cultural diversity in the Philippines, our host country. An extensive community service program involves all students, and students learn to lead projects that help the less fortunate in meaningful and sustainable ways. Philippine language and culture classes are conducted for all elementary school students and Filipino is offered as a language option for high school students.

Enriching Students’ Lives with Distinctive Programs

The school year runs from early August to early June and the primary language of instruction is English. Various features attract students to this school: a well- resourced campus with modern facilities, the established and proven International Baccalaureate programs, rigorous academic excellence, inquiry-based teaching and learning, and a strong focus on the holistic development of emotional and social skills that are emphasized via the IB program philosophy throughout all levels of the school.

As CIS is internationally and locally accredited, graduating students earn recognised CIS graduating qualifications that have the equivalency of a US High School Diploma via WASC, and international recognition via WASC and the Council of International Schools. Additionally, students have the option to earn an IB Diploma, which is recognized as one of the most accepted and valued college acceptance qualifications in the world. Dedicated, caring and professional faculty are given constant professional development at CIS, in order to maintain a high level of expertise. CIS keeps an approximate 60:40 ratio of expat: local teachers, all who are trained, qualified and experienced. A student-focused program is employed to develop the whole child holistically, with high individualized support. In order to do this, CIS uses a dedicated student support team comprised of Learning Needs and English as an Additional Language (EAL) specialists, a School Counsellor (social/emotional), and a Student Support Department Coordinator. This team work with the teachers to ensure every student’s need is addressed in a timely and appropriate manner. Along with the academics, CIS provides an extensive extracurricular activity program, which includes after school sports, arts, clubs, and service activities. The school also offers a college guidance counseling program that provides students one on one support through the university admissions process, to facilitate applications to universities worldwide.

Providing Assistance to the Deserving and Less Fortunate

CIS offers a variety of scholarships to students. Full scholarships are awarded to deserving local students and merit scholarships are offered to students with special skills each year; and financial aid scholarships are available to qualifying families who struggle to afford the tuition fee.

Plethora of Opportunities for Students

Depending on the desired location and choice of career, CIS students are offered the opportunity to attend colleges of their choice from around the world. For example, students have chosen career opportunities in business, engineering, STEM Degrees, hotel management, visual arts, and behavioral science in the past. CIS’s College Counsellor personally meets with students and parents to discuss career options and provide guidance, and the school offers students the use of Naviance, a program facilitating student awareness of what careers they should undertake, and which colleges are suitable for them if they are unsure about their career goals. Every year CIS hosts numerous College Fairs, where colleges and universities from around the world send representatives to meet and answer questions from students and parents.

With its’ 95th anniversary coming up next year, CIS is well-placed to continue to build on its already globally-recognized reputation as a stable quality provider of premium education, based on research of best practices and effective schools.

A Glimpse towards Accomplished Alumnus

Amongst the many successful alumni of CIS some are Vito Selma (Renowned Furniture Designer), Luigi Quisumbing (ex-congressman and current Mandaue City Mayor), Kate Dychangco-Anzani (Cebu Restaurateur and Entrepreneur), Gabriele Raine Baljak (Miss Cebu 2016), Matteo Guidicelli (Actor, Entrepreneur, and Triathlete), and Mia Arcenas-Branellec (Fashion Designer and Jeweller). Many other notable alumni too numerous to name have also attended CIS throughout the schools 94-year history!

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