Stamford American School: Redefining the IB Curriculum
Stamford American School

The IBDP is one of the most rigorous and well-regarded high school programs offering global access to top universities. And Stamford American School, Hong Kong, is one of the schools to honour the intricacy of the curriculum and is home to a team of over 25 IB expert faculty is one of the schools to honor the intricacy of the curriculum. It has three key IB specialist faculty with 55 combined years of experience guiding Stamford’s first graduating cohort to exciting futures and blazing a trail for those to follow.

Dean of Academics to Ensure Excellence

Michael Galligan has led the development and accreditation of the IB at Stamford American since opening in 2017. Holding 23 years of experience, he previously led the IB program at Stamford Singapore, which has over 100 graduates yearly that are accepted into universities in twenty-two countries globally. Beyond the IBDP, from Day 1, Mr Galligan has helped shape the school’s uniquely American and IB-centric curriculum, which combines student engagement with a strong backbone of academic rigour.

Passionate about expanding learning opportunities outside of the classroom, Mr Galligan has been instrumental in the growth of the school’s bespoke Cornerstones Program that pairs Grades 9 and 10 students with industry professionals in e-commerce, entrepreneurship, architecture, and more. For many students, this experience leads to their Grade 10 Sophomore Project, a start-to-finish 8- month experience of research, planning, and development of a product or service of personal interest. Students have even launched their businesses from this project, such as current Grade 12 Sameul Cruz-Bravo, who launched his clothing line, ‘Kawsay.’

Mr Galligan also teaches Grade 11 Business Management. Recently, six students participated in the city-wide ‘Business Excellence Contest.’ They submitted a business plan to integrate technology to support a social sustainability campaign (Mother’s Choice). With this wealth of knowledge, it is no surprise that the first graduating cohort at Stamford Hong Kong has already received university offers from outstanding schools in the United States, Canada, the UK, Australia, and Hong Kong.

This past year Stamford American had a unique opportunity to be trailblazers as it worked with an outside professional (Mr Jhashi of VEXA) to test his prototype of an app he is developing to launch sometime soon. The app connects high school students with universities through short personal videos of university life posted in the app, which brought student stories to life but also was a significant experience in a real-world context.

Trailblazing of the Secondary Principal

Teresa Foard, the secondary principal, was already an established leader in the Cognita school network when she joined Stamford in 2020, having fostered many successful IB graduates at the International School of Ho Chi Minh City.

With 23 years of experience, she is also an IB trainer. She brings her IB educator expertise to the Stamford community through her leadership and the recruitment and ongoing development of top teachers in Stamford’s growing Secondary Division.

Ms Foard is well-known to the secondary students at Stamford, whom she knows by name through her approachability and open-door policy. However, it is difficult to find her in the office. She can be seen working with students, faculty, and parents to rebuild bonds and passions as restrictions have eased and opportunities have expanded.

Ms Foard is dedicated to developing student agency and voice. Ms Foard has been instrumental in building the Model United Nations Club, supporting Student Council to reestablish an environmentally-friendly campus garden, and planning the 2023 Prom and Graduation celebrations class for the Stamford community. Most importantly, daily, she ensures all students feel cared for and can confidently shine at Stamford.

Her most memorable moments have been working with the class of 2023 to build traditions at Stamford. She is so proud of the leadership these students showed in designing bespoke senior uniform sweaters, being instrumental in the launch of the House system, and the multiple moments of care they showed to one another during the pandemic. Even in the thick of IB exams and assessments, they continue to be strong role models to the many Stamford graduates who will follow them. If she had to pick one favorite memory, it would be when a group of seniors climbed Lion Rock together as part of their IB CAS requirement. There is a picture of them on the 7th floor of the school, and when she looks at this, it makes her smile every time as it is the perfect capture of their closeknit seniors conquering mountains.

Assistance from University Counselor

Helen Fung joined Stamford in 2022 with over seven years of work experience, including four years at an IB international school focusing on Higher Education and Careers. Her solid background and credentials give her the knowledge to support students. At the same time, her friendly, honest, and firm personality helps guide students to their best-fit university by asking tough questions and keeping a close watch on progress.

Ms Fung leads Stamford’s university and career counselling program, which starts in Grade 9, where students begin to explore their full potential for future studies and careers throughout high school. As part of the university counselling program, Ms. Fung closely tracks students’ academic progress against their goals to secure their best-fit universities. With global destinations in mind, she also supports all students in navigating the application systems of different countries and ensures the final submissions reflect each student’s best.

In addition to finding the right university, Ms Fung supports students to grow socially and emotionally through workshops and lessons using the School Connect Framework. Students learn skills such as developing a work ethic, taking full responsibility, problem-solving in the workplace, negotiating an agreement, and more. Weekly lessons in these life skills ensure Stamford graduates not only land at the right university but have the skills and ability to succeed in any career.

Her favourite moment with the 2023 graduating batch was receiving the first university offer for Stamford’s class of 2023 and celebrating their success. She shares the students’ excitement each time a new offer comes in, with students pursuing diverse careers in majors such as Cell, Molecular, and Developmental Biology, Business, Economics, Engineering, and Arts.

There are over 5,000 IB World Schools in 150 countries globally. IB programs are renowned for their excellence, notably the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP), enabling access to top universities worldwide. The IB is more than just its courses; how each school IB skills and learners is unique.

Stamford American School is an IB world school offering the IBDP. An American standards-based curriculum combined with unique programs makes the Stamford approach to the IBDP special in Hong Kong.

Nurturing Skills and Attitudes

The IB has a clear vision for its learners. The vision is translated into the IB Learner Profile and Attitudes Approaches to Learning (ATL’s), two elements unique to the IB that guide all B learners towards developing attributes and skills crucial to building a better world. Some examples from the ATL’s are communication, critical thinking, time management, creativity, and reflection.

Students at Stamford begin their path to becoming IB learners as soon as they start school by introducing the Learner Profile, which becomes the set of attributes they will strive to develop.

Before embarking on their graduation journey, Stamford teachers work closely with students to embed the necessary skills to drive their approach to academics and real-life challenges. For example, during the Mission Inspire STEMinn project week, Grade 5 students were challenged to create a lunar base for four astronauts to survive for two weeks. Working in groups (collaboration), students had to design a base together (creativity and critical thinking) and, after presenting their ideas, consider what they might change or do differently next time (reflection). Hands-on projects like these are deemed inquiry-led, where teachers support, and students actively drive the learning. This educational approach education that fosters skills and curiosity and is more aligned with the real world; when in the workforce, those who shine problem-solve and explore how to drive new innovative ideas or processes. In addition to these capabilities, a clear learning roadmap is identified for each student with the American standards-based curriculum, ensuring students have a solid academic and skill-based foundation.

Fostering a Global Mindset

A global mindset is made, not born. As students, jobs, and information become increasingly globally connected, students need to demonstrate worldly vision. At Stamford, a global mindset is fostered in units of study and through the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Recently, lower elementary students learned about climate change and how it affects lives on Earth. They ‘invented’ a powerful tool to fight climate change by changing states of matter, combining creativity with coding and other technical skills in their project while learning to empathize and problem solve. A grade 5 student was inspired to research the goal of ‘Life Below Water’ after watching a video of people removing plastic tubes from a sea turtle. She then created an action plan to organize beach clean-ups and advocate for plastic-free life.

Cultural celebrations occur at Stamford throughout the school year. In daily classroom discussions, students are encouraged to share their cultural experiences and unique viewpoints on a wide range of topics. With 31 student nationalities and faculty from 15 countries, students experience other cultures and perspectives without leaving the classroom to build empathy to collaborate globally.

The Path to Graduation

The IBDP For many learners, the final step in their high school journey is the IBDP, a culmination of the academic and life skills garnered through elementary to early high school. In Grades 11 and 12, students have the opportunity to pursue this diploma that grants them access to even the most elite universities. Unlike the A-levels, courses are broad to ensure students have flexibility in their future career paths.

At Stamford, to prepare students for the rigorous task of the IBDP extended essay (4,000-word research paper). The results of these exercises often spark an area of deep interest for their Sophomore Project in Grade 10. During this 8-month-long project, students conduct research in an area of their choosing, providing invaluable preparation for the extended essay.

In addition to these special projects, Stamford offers small cohorts, providing personalized support through challenging courses such as the Theory of Knowledge. As part of the Cognita group of schools, Stamford employs a large number of faculty, offering 25 high school courses and an abundance of Creativity, Activity, and Service options (another IB requirement) akin to a larger school.

In today’s world, life and work demand diverse skills and mindsets to achieve success; the IB delivers this to learners of all ages and grants them access to universities of choice upon graduation. Stamford American School lives and breathes the IB philosophies at all grade levels with unique programs and American standards to bring out the best in every student.

Recent Posts