“Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another.”
Education is the key to achieving success in different endeavors in life. It enables individuals to pursue a prosperous career path of their choice. They aim at attaining excellent education from international institutions of repute, which provide a lasting educational experience, accompanied by superior infrastructural facilities and a career-oriented perspective.
One such torchbearer in the educational arena is Dominican International School (DIS). Established in 1957 and located at Taipei, it is the only accredited catholic international school in Asia, which makes the school unique, as it combines International School culture with Catholic School ethos. The school is a catholic, private, English medium school owned and governed by the Dominican Sisters. It started off as a US Government contract (D.O.D.) school for the military dependents of the US forces in Taipei with the purpose to provide catholic instruction and a good education to American dependents.
In 1979, with the withdrawal of the American forces from Taipei, it transformed into an international school that allows all nationalities to register. The school still follows the modified American curriculum. DIS continues to strive not only to provide excellent education to all students, regardless of race, color, and creed, but also to provide service in the light and spirit of Saint Dominic.
Evolving with Time
The school believes in transforming with changing times. Accordingly, in 2008 the gymnasium, cafeteria, and the west wing of the main building were demolished to make way for the construction of new school buildings that were more suitable for 21st Century education, making provision for advanced technology.
Phase one, which included classrooms, an audio-visual room, an art room, science laboratories, and a brand new library, was completed in 2013. Under phase two, the rest of the school was demolished in 2017. These buildings included a new gymnasium, an amphitheater, an auditorium, a new cafeteria, a canteen, and the new administration building.
The person responsible for leading DIS is none other than Sr. Ma. Zenaida Ancheta. O. P. (Order of Preachers). She is a very experienced and respected educator, who possesses over 40 years of valuable experience in education. Zenaida holds a Master’s degree in Education (Private School Administration) under the Institute for Catholic Education at the University of San Francisco, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education with a major in Home Economics and minors in Art and Music.
Furthermore, she took a course in Food Service Management from the Catholic Health Association in the USA, as well as a Dietary Manager Independent Study course from the University of Florida. Her experience includes serving as a dietary manager in educational and other institutions.
Attaining Academic Excellence
The school emphasizes on providing education which assists students to grow into better human beings, while attaining brilliance in academic and career endeavors. It follows a modified American curriculum which includes religious studies, and to prepare students for higher education abroad, not only at North American universities, but at other international universities, including Australia, the UK, the EU, and other Asian destinations such as Hong Kong and Japan.
Many graduates of the school have been accepted at top UK universities such as King’s College, Cambridge, and Oxford. The school is continuously looking for innovation and is currently at the forefront with 21st century project based education in Asia. Robotics is an integral part of the Grade 4 to 8 curricula.
It offers entrepreneurship as a full-fledged 21st Century PBL program for grade 12 students who run real businesses and participate in large entrepreneurial events in Taipei. Furthermore, the school offers a wide range of advanced placement courses. The dedicated curriculum and educational facilities allow students to shine with outstanding results at the external college board exams in May every year.
Life at DIS
DIS offers a vibrant atmosphere, which allows students to explore different horizons and improve themselves as learners. It encourages students to remain committed towards making the world a better place, while educating them to interact and communicate effectively with people from all walks of life. Students are provided with the opportunity to see the world from a different perspective, while learning and experiencing everything from various angles.
Teachers instruct the students to be reflective- to reflect on what they have done in the day, to reflect on their attitude and behavior, or to reflect on all the serious events that are currently happening around the world. The school encourages students to form various clubs, which nurture teamwork, productivity, mutual understanding, and social responsibility.
It encourages students to work as a team and perform various kinds of community services, which include helping clean the kindergarten environment, teaching elementary students Math and English, or cleaning up waste along the beach. DIS allows the students to participate in international voluntary programs, in which, everything is done by the students. Under this program, students conduct designing lessons for children, create simple games, and carry out other small activities to exchange cultures.
Upholding Society and Culture
DIS is driven by the objective to provide a God-centered education based on the truth of Christian teaching, caring, and valuing each person in the school community. It emphasizes on respecting the different aspects of human culture and creation, preparing students, as decision makers, for a mature life of duties and responsibilities, equipped with spiritual and moral values, virtues, confidence, and wisdom essential for living in an ever-changing world.
The primary objectives of DIS are as follows:
Maintain a student-centered class atmosphere where the teacher sets achievable expectations to enable students to pursue their dreams.
Encourage exploration of the curriculum using academic and technological resources to define the purpose of learning.
Focus on creating a safe learning environment, where students feel accepted for who they are and gain confidence in their learning process.
Promoting Unity in Diversity
DIS welcomes all students, regardless of their race, culture, or religious orientation. The teacher body is also one of the most diverse in Taiwan. The faculty come from different corners of the world, including countries such as Greece, the U.K, Canada, the USA, Mexico, Nicaragua, Venezuela, the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, South Africa, and Kenya.
Students get to interact with teachers from different creeds, colors, and cultures, who work together as one teaching faculty united in the ethos of the school. This encourages them to develop mutual understanding among each other, while working together as a team to learn and evolve.
Igniting the Curiosity for Learning
The school provides students with the scope to explore their knowledge horizon and enhance their performance. Teachers take students on field trips where they can learn more, for example, middle and high school students recently visited a facility where they learned more about robotics and got the opportunity to build their own solar-powered robots to take home.
The World Scholar’s Cup teaches students about diverse subjects. Going abroad to participate in follow-up rounds trigger their interest in different subjects as they visit places such as Stanford University and The Hague in the Netherlands. 21st century project-based learning gives them perspectives that go beyond the school’s classroom.
Events such as the book fair, reader’s theater, science fair, and math challenge help to spark interest in various subjects. The school also has an orchestra where promising musicians can showcase their craft. Furthermore, it offers a wide range of AP subjects ranging from calculus, macroeconomics, statistics, and US history to studio art.
The Achievement Saga
The school has achieved many noteworthy landmarks throughout its illustrious journey of offering excellent education. Considering its popularity, many catholic schools from abroad visit DIS for benchmarking. Furthermore, it is expecting a delegation of international principals in the month of February. The school has also hosted education students, who practiced their international teaching here. This speaks volumes about DIS’s international standing.
Beyond the Traditional Curriculum
DIS not only provides students the opportunity to sharpen their academic finesse, but also to succeed in extra-curricular endeavors. It conducts a plethora of annual activities, which include the Young Shakespeare play writing competition, where each class has to use their literary, art, music, and drama knowledge to write, direct, and perform their own play.
It encourages students to attend the World Scholar’s Cup rounds locally and abroad. The students from DIS always participate in the final round in the USA. They are also involved with Model United Nations. The school has field and track, volleyball, soccer, basketball, tennis, and swimming teams which participate in local and international competitions and succeed with flying colors.
The Lower School conducts a Reader’s Theater event where everyone participates. The school also creates opportunities for students to attend one of the many clubs that have special time set aside for them on Friday afternoons. This helps the students to learn cooking, martial arts, drama, and many other activities that the school offers.
The school has produced numerous graduates, who have excelled in different fields. They have made DIS proud with their dedicated endeavors and achievements. Many alumni return to the school to impart education to the young students.
One such renowned alumni is Chanting Lee. Expressing her experiences, Lee writes, “I graduated from DIS in 2009 and the school has changed so much in the time I was away. I returned to my alma mater to teach after completing my university studies as a way of giving back to the school. I had a lot of teachers who mentored and supported me as a student and I hope that in returning to DIS, I can guide and encourage students the same way my teachers did for me, even just a little! DIS is a supportive and tight-knit community, I’ve really enjoyed my time here, it’s great to be back!”
The Career Landmark
DIS prepares its students to tackle the challenges of almost every field imaginable. It nurtures them with utmost dedication, which eventually makes them eligible for different job roles. Many graduates of the school are working as doctors, dentists, engineers, teachers, entrepreneurs, economists, bankers, and lawyers.
In addition to that, many students have chosen interesting careers, such as an alumnus who is a film maker in France. A former student of DIS is pursuing a course of fashion design in London. An alumni of the school is a member of the US Marine Corps, while another is working as a full-time writer.