Hsinchu County American School: Developing Students with a Curiosity to Combat Challenges
Hsinchu County American School

At the Knowledge Review, we are always on a quest to find schools, institutions, universities, etc. that strive to develop students with their unique approaches and state-of-the-art facilities. We search for schools that are not afraid to break the traditional barriers and implement innovative ways for the holistic development of their students. Hence, while exploring through the island nation of Taiwan, we have come across a school which implements one such way known as the Dalton Plan.

The Dalton plan was developed by Helen Parkhurst, founder of Dalton School (Children University School) in New York City on two fundamental principles of freedom and co-operation. These principles allow greater freedom to their pupils and play a key role in the development of intrinsic motivation for learning and keep the pupils’ curiosity ignited.

The school we are introducing to you, practice the above attributes of the American way of education since its inception. We see it as an honor to introduce you to Hsinchu County American School (HCAS), which is on a mission to educate the whole person using the Dalton Plan and to develop individuals who will contribute to the greater good of humanity.

Having a community of lifelong learners, HCAS fosters its students to become healthy, creative, social, and globally-minded individuals who can think independently and critically. The school’s students strive for academic excellence by taking a challenging, balanced curriculum in core disciplines, the Arts, and Technology.

Infrastructure Perfect for Nurturing

HCAS seeks to maintain a safe, healthy and attractive campus environment for its students, faculty, staff, and visitors. Its 11,945 sq.m. of indoor campus space supports the evolving needs of HCAS’s teaching, research and service mission.

The HCAS Library caters to students, faculty members and staff of the school with over 5,000 physical books, along with online reading resources. It plans to increase the volume collection on a yearly basis. The library system also comes with a web interface.

The school’s spacious classrooms are equipped with overhead projectors and blackboards or whiteboards. They also have mobile smartboards for those who wish to incorporate technology into their classrooms.

For HCAS’s Kindergarten and First Programs students, the school provides two outdoor playgrounds, indoor playpen as well as napping beds.

For STEM, HCAS provides spaces for robotics lab, physical lab, general science lab, and computer lab. With an emphasis on hands-on learning and project-based assessments, the school encourages its students to challenge themselves in the laboratories.

Offering Multiple Choices

HCAS, though an English medium instruction school offers courses in various languages such as: Chinese, Spanish and French as a foreign language. All upper-grade students are required to take foreign language courses as a graduation requirement. It not only helps to become multilinguistic, but also helps to explore its culture and develop an appreciation for it.

At HCAS, English, Social Studies, World Languages, Math, and Science are considered as core courses. A student taking a full course load (honors- university preparatory and Advanced Placement courses) graduates with at least 26 credits. 1 credit consists of 3 courses of 80 minutes per week for one year. All its AP courses are contingent on pre-requisites as well as faculty approval.

HCAS offers (MADD) Music, Arts, Drama, and Dance, along with Computer Science as an important elective component.

Though there are two years of Physical Education (PE) credits required for graduation, they can be obtained by combining Health Education class, Dance class, or by participating in school team sports activities.

Leading with Intuition

To lead an institution which provides education of a foreign curriculum requires personalities who have not only experienced it but also have a deep appreciation for it. These people have the ability to inculcate the curriculum’s many positive aspects and develop a curriculum that integrates the nation’s value as well. These individuals are none other than Dr. Jing Wang, Founder,Peter Huang,Chairman and Peter Shon, Head of School of HCAS who with their love for education and devotion towards students are helping the school to achieve the zenith of excellence.

Dr. Wang as a child, moved from Beijing, China to the U.S. with her family. She attended Cornell University where she received her bachelor’s degree and met her husband Peter Huang. She went on to study medicine at John Hopkins Hospital.

Today she is a board-certified medical physician who practices in the US part of the year. She has first-hand experience of how western education develops innovative thinkers.

Her vision for the Hsinchu County American School is to bring together dedicated and motivated professionals that have an innate passion to provide great services to students. In the words of Dr. Wang, “We strive to provide opportunities, resources, and rigor in all our programs to fulfill our students’ expectations to prepare them to meet the challenges of the 21st century.”

Peter Posen Huang, the school’s Chairman, has been instrumental in the founding stages of HCAS, assembling the best people and resources to help students succeed.

Born in Taiwan, he grew up in Montreal, Canada where he completed his elementary, middle and high school. Subsequently, he went to the U.S. for college and graduate school, completing his undergraduate studies at Cornell University and graduate studies at Harvard University.

As a result of his upbringing, Mr. Posen has a deep appreciation for North American education. He also admires the way it empowers individuals in independent thinking, creativity and the way it encourages them to pursue their passion and succeed in respective fields.

Peter Shon, alongside being the head of HCAS, is an international doctoral student at Nazarbayev University, Graduate School of Education (NUGSE) in conjunction with the University of Pennsylvania, GSE. He has led the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accreditation process in the past and helped to implement both Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) programs.

Breaking the Traditional Barriers

HCAS believes in learning, growing and developing outside of the four walls of the classroom. It believes that much of character building and cultivation of core values (honesty, compassion, courage, humility, citizenship, justice, conversation, sportsmanship, self-reliance, respect, and responsibility) are learned through interaction between people at home or in the school community. Therefore, the school offers a diverse range of opportunities for activities both during and after school for its students.

While the co-curricular activities allow its students to follow their passion and interests, extra-curricular activities help students to hone their physical and social skills.

On weekends, the school offers activities through the Star Academy. These are tailored for the kindergarten students to play games and to learn the importance of collaboration.

Practicing Diverse Educational Approaches

Along with its well known Dalton plan approach, HCAS integrates the below approaches to develop tomorrow’s responsible individuals, such as:

Progressive Education

Progressive education is a pedagogical movement that began in the late 19th century and finds its roots in the present experience. It was coined by John Dewey, often called the Father of Progressive Education and Father of American Education. He emphasized on the independent motivations of learners, the need for schools to be small-scale laboratories for experiments in democratic social reform and the basis of authentic learning in inquiry and experiences.

The school integrates this educational factor which helps to develop a curriculum focused on thematic units as well as entrepreneurship. This also helps students with problem-solving and critical thinking through collaborative and cooperative projects.

Project-Based Assessment

Following the lead of John Dewey, Willam Heard Kilpatrick believed that children should direct their own learning according to their interests.

This approach allows students to be immersed in a project method environment. It helps them to explore and experience their environment through their senses and direct their learning by individual interests.

The Seven Cs

The Seven Cs are the values HCAS promotes as the most essential traits students should have in order to be successful in the 21st Century. These are meant for students to succeed academically as well as develop an ability to contribute to society. Dr. Wang, with enthusiasm, explains these and their importance as:

  • Contribution: “Students contribute to their immediate community (family, school, etc.) with their talents, voice, time, and ideas in creating value in their learning environment. They are committed to using their knowledge and skills to contribute positively to society.”
  • Communication: “Students understand that in order to communicate successfully, they need to become familiar with a variety of communication mediums.” 
  • Community: “Students see their community in steadily expanding circles — from local, to national, and to the world community. They see themselves as members of the global community, rather than as simply a member belonging to an isolated group.” 
  • Compassion: “Students display compassion and empathy for others, no matter how different they may seem to be. They fundamentally understand that all are connected and from their compassion take action to help others.”
  • Critical Thinking: “Students apply critical thinking to all areas, including themselves. They are careful when evaluating new information, and are able to navigate a variety of information mediums in order to come to their conclusion.” 
  • Collaboration: “Students understand that while there is a time and place for independent work, ultimately their actions will affect others. They, therefore, see the importance of collaboration as a way to ensure everyone’s views are fairly represented.” 
  • Creativity: “Students utilize creativity to go beyond what they know and understand to imagine what is possible, what could be changed and what could be made better. They do not view challenges as obstacles, but as another opportunity to exercise their creativity.”

Achievements Leading to A Promising Future

As a young school, HCAS has received candidacy status for WASC. To take a step further, every year its students participate in Model United Nations (MUN, WSC) alongside competitions such as math, entrepreneurship, sports, art, music, and debate. Its high school students have participated in the Global Leadership program in the Boston area. This helps the school to strengthen its foundation on global scale opportunities to develop tie-ups with international schools.

HCAS has been hosting sports tournaments amongst the International school community in Taiwan. It will host a WASC workshop in 2020.

The school seeks to meet the maximum enrollment by the next academic year. HCAS also plans to expand international partnerships. With its tech park resources, the school is connecting its students for career options and aims to develop its students into citizens who are ready and excited to combat the real-world challenges.

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