“We emphasize academic excellence, alongside a supportive community that respects and promotes cultural norms and traditions for both Chinese and international students alike.”
Located in Dalian, Liaoning Maple Leaf Educational Systems (MLES) opened its first school in 1995 with 14 students. Today MLES offers a high quality international education for students from preschool to high school. In 22 years, it has grown to over 40,000 students in 90+ schools located in 20+ cities in China and 3 overseas.
Dr. Sherman Jen, Founder, Chair and CEO of MLES, was born and raised in China and worked in Hong Kong before moving to Vancouver, BC Canada. He believed that an educational system combining the best features of the innovative and inquiry-based western model with the culturally rich and disciplined Chinese tradition would best prepare students for life in the 21st century. A strong grounding in early English language is an essential feature of MLES, as Dr. Jen realized that the ability to think and learn in English would be essential to the success of Chinese citizens in a global society.
The phenomenal growth of MLES bears witness to Dr. Jen’s foresight and vision. In its 23rd year of operation, Dr. Jen’s incisive leadership and active recruitment policies continue to result in consistent growth in enrolment and improvement in student performance on MLES campuses. Over 12,000 students have graduated from MLES schools since 1999 with both BC Dogwood and Chinese High School Graduation Diplomas, providing them with the qualifications to enter English-speaking universities worldwide. Many Maple Leaf alumni have completed Bachelors and Masters Degrees, and several are working on Doctorates. Dr. Jen has received recognition through many significant awards, including Most Influential Figure in China Private Education awarded at China Education Innovation and Development Forum at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, the Governor General’s Medallion awarded by the Governor General of Canada, and Honorary Doctor of Laws by Royal Roads University in Victoria, BC.
Creating Centers of Excellence
Maple Leaf schools offer the BC Graduation Program and Dogwood Diploma. MLES also offers the Chinese K-9 program and high school diploma in 11 cities of China. These are Dalian, Chongqing, Hainan, Henan, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Wuhan, Xi’an, Yancheng, and Zhenjiang. MLES schools in Ordos-Inner Mongolia, Pingdingshan, Jinzhou, Pinghu, Huzhou, Weifang, and Haikou offer the K-9 Chinese program with the BC Graduation Program in their future. Maple Leaf Foreign Nationals Schools offering a BC certified, all-English program for students from other countries are located in Dalian, Kaifaqu, Yiwu, and Wuhan.
The foundation of Maple Leaf is the belief that students will benefit from earning dual high school diplomas from the Chinese Education Bureau and the British Columbia (BC) Ministry of Education, which is accepted by universities in all English-speaking countries. To accomplish this goal, MLES schools offer the full 9-year Chinese compulsory education program, but expanded time allotted for English language instruction, including English classes taught by native English speakers from kindergarten on and increasing during the middle school grades, to give students the necessary English skills to enter the BC Graduation Program in Grade 10. The Grade 10-12 program includes some compulsory Chinese courses, but otherwise is identical to that which students in BC receive. The BC program is supervised by a BC superintendent, led by a BC certified principal, taught by BC certified teachers, and inspected annually by BC Ministry of Education inspectors. In 2017-2018, more than 8,600 students were enrolled in grades 10-12 of the MLES BC program. The Graduates Consultation and Service Center confirms that 68.5% of the 2,146 graduates receiving a BC Dogwood diploma in June 2018 were offered admission into the Top 100 highest ranking post-secondary institutions.
The BC curriculum was selected and is offered at Maple Leaf Schools because BC regularly outperforms every other English-speaking education authority on the Program for International Students Assessment (PISA) assessments, provided every three years by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to evaluate the academic achievement levels of 15-year-old students worldwide in the fields of science, reading, and mathematics. In the 2015 PISA results, Canada was the highest performing English-speaking country, placing 7th in Science, 2nd in Reading, and 9th in Mathematics. Students from British Columbia outperformed the Canadian national average in two categories, placing 3rd in Science, 1st in Reading, and 9th in Mathematics. Therefore, Maple Leaf is confident that students are receiving one of the best English-speaking curricula available in the world.
A Door to Student Success
Maple Leaf has developed its own ELL curriculum to ensure the success of its students to facilitate rapid language skill acquisition so that they can complete the 3-year high school program in 3-4 years. Other initiatives include integration of 12 key teaching/learning strategies across the K-12 curriculum to enhance English language proficiency, student-focused learning approaches, implementation of the new BC high school curriculum, on-going improvement documentation for AdvancED accreditation, more than 100 extracurricular clubs and activities, scholarship programs, summer student tours, and Future Maple Leaf Math and Science Teacher programs at Thompson Rivers and Kwantlen Universities in BC, and commencing in February, 2019, also at the University of South Australia.
Life at Maple Leaf
Each student at Maple Leaf follows an individual timetable of 5 classes per day chosen from more than 60 course offerings, according to personal talents and interests. From 3:40-6:30 pm each day, students may join various school clubs or athletic activities, or spend time studying or doing homework. Teachers are always available in the Success Room to provide academic, social, and emotional support.
Many extracurricular events make Maple Leaf schools lively places. Competitive sports teams such as volleyball, basketball, soccer, and badminton; and events such as the New Year Gala, Chinese Art Festival, Language Arts Festival, Maple Leaf Cup Speech Contest, annual School Play, and model UN provide opportunities for students to develop skills and relationships outside the classroom. Each year more than 80 western universities send representatives to the annual University Student Recruitment Fair to recruit grade 12 students, and many Maple Leaf students receive offers from universities during this two-day event.
Though Maple Leaf schools enroll primarily Chinese nationals, MLES students come from 59 different countries, 17 of which enroll 10 or more students. Four of the MLES family of schools cater exclusively to foreign national students, but international students also attend the Chinese program and BC program MLES schools. Staff assists international students with translation, visas, residence permits, insurance coverage, and other communication needs. The larger campuses provide an international homeroom as a safe space within the school. A number of campus clubs also cater to student integration and building relationships between international and Chinese students.
The Maple Leaf Educational Philosophy assumes that every child has a strong desire to learn and understand the world. Maple Leaf Schools create a diverse, dynamic, and engaging learning environment where students feel safe, supported, and empowered to fully develop their abilities, interests, and creative talents in small classes of 20-30 students. A strong foundation in both Chinese and English languages and increased international understanding through the dual East-West curriculum is the goal of MLES. Maple Leaf students are excelling in their post-secondary studies and career development, and many maintain close ties with the school long after graduation.
Word of Testimony
Mr. Hongge (Fred) Ren is currently a Vice President of MLES with specific responsibilities as Vice Principal of MLES Research Institute; Supervisor of Project Orca, which prepares top MLES students to enter distinguished universities; and overseer of the ESL Teacher Center. He is also Secretary General of the Global Alumni Association of Maple Leaf International Schools. Fred entered Maple Leaf as a scholarship student, graduating in 2002 as class valedictorian with both BC Dogwood and Chinese high school diplomas.
Upon graduation, Fred was one of only two recipients of a Full Sponsorship Award to the University of Victoria, where he graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor of Commerce in Entrepreneurship. He then proceeded to Harvard Graduate School of Education as one of only seven Marco Polo Fellowship recipients, earning a Master of Education in Technology, Innovation, and Education in 2013.
“In 1999, Maple Leaf advertised a one-year scholarship offer. Everyone around me considered it a risky option, not only because Maple Leaf was then still a small and unproven school, but also because it deviated from the traditional pathway of writing the Gaokao exam for university; therefore, accepting the scholarship would mean many uncertainties to face in my academic future. Another problem was that the scholarship was only for one year, and my parents could not afford the tuition for two years thereafter, not to mention going abroad after graduation. I saw it differently, and took the offer anyway. Later, I discovered that I was the single applicant and recipient of that one-time scholarship. Before the advent of the new millennium, the one-year scholarship was extended to 3 years, supported by Dr. Sherman Jen, the founder of Maple Leaf, enabling me to graduate from Maple Leaf Dalian in 2002.
“My bold choice of Maple Leaf certainly didn’t disappoint me. The blending model at Maple Leaf was fantastic. On the one hand, I was exposed to the interactive, learner-centered and idea-provoking western teaching methodology and practice, as opposed to my previous rigid exam-oriented learning experience; on the other hand, because of the dual-curriculum design I was able to continue my nurture in Chinese culture and traditional virtues. As a result, I attained the mindsets of both the East and the West. Much like chemical reactions, experiences in dual languages and dual cultures at Maple Leaf worked magic on me, not only preparing me well for further education in Canada and then the US, but also helping me develop an edge in terms of a global mindset over those who only received local education.”