Singapore American School: Cultivating Exceptional Thinkers
Singapore American School
Singapore American School

Shai Reshef, the founder of the University of People, once said, “When you educate one person, you can change a life. When you educate many, you can change the world.” There are many ways to positively change the world and education is the most impactful way to do it. Developing lifelong learners who will empower and develop future learners creates a virtuous cycle of growth. This is at the heart of the work educators do with students every day at Singapore American School.

Singapore American School (SAS) is focused on providing each student an exemplary American educational experience with an international perspective. The school is dedicated to developing new learning possibilities to nurture the skills of its students. Before Singapore was even independent, this school had been on the leading edge of preparing students for their bright future. The success story lies in the footprints of SAS alumni, who achieved great success in their careers.

A History of Excellence

In its most humble beginnings, the idea of the Singapore American School was moved forward when 130 children showed up at the American Club’s Christmas party in 1952.It took three years for the American community to embrace the thought, and the initial goal of raising $100,000 was achieved through donations from individuals and around 40 companies.

Singapore American School started its journey on January 3, 1956, and was set in a large colonial house at 15 Rochalie Drive. Beginning with 98 students, including 57 Americans and 41 from other nationalities, a typical day at SAS started at 8:15 am by singing ‘God Save the Queen’ in assembly. Without air conditioning, the cooler morning hours were reserved for academic classes. Students went home for lunch and returned at 3 pm for music, PE, art, drama, and other enrichment activities. It included only elementary and junior-high classes as older students were settled in boarding schools outside of Singapore. In the first few years, the school developed enduring traditions. Sole senior Louise Feng received her diploma at The American Club in the first commencement ceremony in July 1958.

Students voted on a team name, and soon the eagles were born, playing fast-pitch softball, volleyball, and basketball. A cheerleading squad appeared at games, and local spectators were amazed. The first plays were performed. The Islander yearbook appeared in 1958, and the first junior-senior prom took place in 1959. The PTA organized a funfair, the forerunner of today’s international fair, to raise money for a basketball court. Since the beginning, students wore white tops and navy blue bottoms.

The next few decades saw the school as a concrete symbol of confidence, regardless of the political climate. The 1960s was a decade of fundamental decisions related to the strategic direction of the school. The new King’s Road campus opened in 1962, which led to a sharp increase in student admissions.

The 1970s were filled with growing pains, fundamental cultural changes within the school community and in Singapore. A changing student body and operating out of two campuses (King’s Road and Ulu Pandan) meant learning a lot of valuable lessons for future challenges. The 1980s and 1990s reverberated with radical changes, overcoming challenges, and looking forward to opportunities with great confidence.

Transformation in the 21st Century

The new millennium began with a 3,700-strong student body, a feat unimaginable in the previous years. With visionary leadership and a $65 million expansion, SAS became the largest single-campus American school outside the United States – a distinction it still holds. True academic rigor, a culture of care and excellence, and embodiment of the American spirit were characteristics of SAS and remained so to this day.

The 2010s were dedicated to reimagining the possibilities of learning. A multi-year research and development process was undertaken. Groups of SAS educators were sent to over 100 schools around the world to curate the best learning practices. The school’s mission – cultivating exceptional thinkers prepared for the future is rooted in the idea that the world is evolving, and education must evolve to prepare students fully. The school is awarded with the Top 10 Singapore Best Employers (2020 and 2021).

Inspiring Leadership

Tom Boasberg is a Superintendent at Singapore American School. Tom is a graduate of BA in History from Yale College and with distinction from Stanford Law School. Prior to SAS, he served as an adjunct lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Tom served for ten years as superintendent of the Denver Public Schools (DPS). As superintendent, he led dramatic improvements in opportunities and outcomes for Denver’s students.

During his decade in leadership, the graduation rate of the district was raised by 28 percent, and the number of students admitting into college increased significantly. Before joining DPS, Tom served in Hong Kong and Denver as global head for corporate development for level 3 Communications and served as legal advisor to the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, DC.

Mission, Vision, and Core Values

Vision: To be a world leader in education, cultivating exceptional thinkers prepared for the future.

Mission: To provide each student an exemplary American educational experience with an international perspective.

Core Values: Compassion, fairness, honesty, respect, responsibility

Opening the Box

The Singapore American School runs classes from preschool to grade 12 (ages 3-18). The school offers an American-style curriculum and is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). It offers one of the largest advanced placement programs outside the United States. Over 80 percent of educators of SAS have either Master’s degree or doctorate degrees. The school utilizes professional learning communities (PLCs), who meet weekly to review four basic questions:

  1. What do we want all students to know and be able to do?
  2. How will we know if they learn it?
  3. How will we help students who need additional support?
  4. How will we extend learning for students who are already proficient?

The Home of The Eagles

With 36 acres of open pathways, lush foliage, and room to explore, SAS is one of the largest single-campus K-12 schools in the world. Also, one million kilowatt-hours of electricity is produced annually. The school recently kicked off its $400 million campus upgrade project for elementary, middle school, and high school. The elementary school upgrade consists of 25 percent more learning space, three times more play space, a 25-meter pool, an additional fullsize gymnasium, and reduced travel time.

For middle school, around 35 percent more learning space is provided along with additional gymnasium, more dining spaces, and two large playfields. The school has a direct connection to the natural rainforest of 1.6 acre. The upgradation of high school consists of 33 percent more learning space, three additional dining spaces, a full-time art gallery, 50-meter pool and redesigned exercise science facilities.

Learning Aspirations

The Singapore American School is focused on learning aspirations, i.e., characters, collaboration, communication, content knowledge, creativity, critical thinking, and cultural competence. These learning aspirations align with current trends in the market. This model provides what recruiters around the world are looking for in ideal employees.

Beyond the Horizon

The campus upgrade project will give the educators spaces that support innovative and flexible practices. The campus of the Singapore American School is a far cry from 65 years ago. But the American spirit still endures. The hallways echo with passion, excitement, and a drive to learn. The walls shout out the achievements of eagles across academics, sports performance, and visual arts. A sense of pride and belonging, of knowing that one is an eagle for life, prevails.

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