SIS News Archive
How proud would you be if your child was an early decision to the Ivy League's Cornell University, or studying chemical engineering at UC Berkeley? Or, better yet, how gratifying would it be if your child grew up to be a smart, creative, caring, well-rounded adult? That path to success starts with the support of a caring community of students and teachers.
Shekou International School (SIS), like many top international schools, offers a rigorous International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma, extracurricular activities such as Model United Nations and Global Issues Network, and a variety of competitive athletic options. Yes, it was the only school in greater China to receive the Apple Distinguished School award in 2014 and was recognized as the School of the Year by the 21st Century Learning Institute, but what sets SIS apart is its caring community, and it turns out, universities love it!
Where are they now?
The SIS class of 2015, like the SIS seniors before them, have moved on to further their learning at universities all over the world, including Cornell, University of California, Berkeley, University of Southern California (USC), Bocconi University (Milan, Italy), Seoul National University (Republic of Korea), and 21 other universities that matched each student's unique personality.
Many of these bright young people had attended more than one international school as their parent's job requires mobility. As Rachel, at SIS for 2.5 years, said, "I have gone to international schools my whole life..." This turnover is pretty common in international schools that are 100% expat students. What makes this class a little different is two of its students had been with SIS for 10 or more years.
"What I like most about SIS is the approachability and kindness of the staff members."
- Deanna, Freshman at Cornell University, Biology Major
Deanna, 13 years at SIS and now at Cornell University, reflects on her time at SIS this way, "What I like most about SIS is the approachability and kindness of the staff members. They've been very accommodating over the years, and I've had a lot of great opportunities to engage with different subject matter, and take on leadership roles..., which I don't think would have been as easy in any other school."
Ryan,10 years at SIS, and studying chemical engineering at UC-Berkeley, has similar thoughts, "What I love about SIS is the size. Very rarely is a student presented with an opportunity to meet with teachers on such a personal level. I feel that by attending SIS for all these years, I have been able to form a strong bond with many of my teachers."
Over the years SIS has had many young adults get accepted to top universities, and a "top ranked university" is great, if it's the right fit. Michael Clancy, the high school counselor at SIS, says, "My advice to students and parents is find a university that fits their needs academically, that specializes in the student's field of interest, and a university culture that fits their personality."
Is all IB the same?
While the IB curriculum is recognized by universities around the world as a rigorous program that helps mold young adults into critical thinking, global citizens the IB organization can only set the curriculum, and the standards for testing. In reality, the curriculum is only as good as the person teaching it.
"The quality of our IB program is dependent on our faculty... and making sure we are on the cutting edge."
- Mark Robertson-Jones, SIS IB Coordinator
"We recognize the importance of attracting teachers that are highly qualified in their subject matter, that fit our school culture, and that offer innovative ways of teaching. SIS's reputation allows us to select the very best teachers and we invest heavily in the recruitment process because at the core of any good school is excellent teaching," explained Mike Livingston, Secondary School Principal. SIS believes in continuing learning for its teachers and growing the infrastructure of the IB program. "The quality of our IB program is dependent on our faculty teams updating themselves and making sure we are on the cutting edge."
For parents looking at IB programs it's important to know that the raw numbers that are posted by a school don't always tell the full story. "...a number of schools have a selective entry process to their IB program. If you don't have a 3.7+ GPA or some other metric, then you are automatically disqualified from the full IB diploma" Then, of course, those schools would have a higher probability of having very high IB test scores. SIS encourages all students to pursue an IB diploma and gain the full benefits of this program.
Mark Robertson-Jones, SIS's IB coordinator, wants students to be able to grow within the SIS IB program, "We have students that work very, very hard, and, with the support of staff, they have made fantastic gains. That value added has been tremendous, and that doesn't necessarily compute into a top aggregate IB score for the school. It's a personal mission with our IB teachers that they give our students the very best chance to succeed."
Class size combined with the advisory program is also a key to success at SIS. One student told us, "Just before I came to SIS, I went to a bigger school, which had 300 students in one grade. At SIS our grade has one tenth that number. These two experiences helped me understand the benefit of a smaller school."
"The thing I like most about SIS is how small the class sizes are which allows the students to have deeper connections with the teachers. This has especially helped me over the years because I felt comfortable going to all my teachers to ask whatever I needed."
- Rachel, Freshman at Rowen University, Biological Sciences Major
Mike Livingston, SIS Middle and High School principal believes that learning should be authentic and personal and that may mean different things to different students. "I think success looks different for every student, and it's important for a school to realize that. Part of our job is to help identify what success looks like for them, and how to help them achieve that."