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Interview with Darren Smith

Updated: 2010-02-04

Opened in 1998, Shenyang International School (SYIS) offers an international program for students in junior kindergarten to grade 12 who are children of expatriates living in Shenyang, capital of Liaoning province. Also, SYIS is the only educational institution in northeast China to have received accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). In 2006, SYIS was accredited by WASC for a full 6-year term.

Interview with Darren Smith

Darren Smith, head principal of SYIS, joined the school in 2002 as a teacher, and took over the position of head principal in 2006. In 2008, SYIS welcomed in its tenth year and relocated to its new site.

Recently, Mr. Smith talked with China Daily reporter Liu Ce about the origin, management and teaching method of SYIS.

Q: As we know, Shenyang International School is a member of ISC. Would you please briefly introduce ISC?

A: ISC stands for international schools in China which offers education for expatriates living in the country. It was founded in 1996 and has 6 schools around China, located in Chengdu, Qingdao, Shenyang, Tianjin, Wuhan and Wuxi. It focuses on students, academics, character and physical education. Overall there are nearly 25 nationalities that represent the overseas school.

The first ISC school was established in Tianjin. At the beginning, it was very small. But years later, it developed bigger with the support of the local government. SYIS started in 1998 with 13 students and we have 151 students now.

Q: There are students from kindergarten to grade 12. How does SYIS manage them to make sure there won’t be a chaos? And is there any difference in the management and teaching of students in different grades?

A: We have very good and qualified teachers. All core curriculum teachers hold a teaching certificate, bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in their respective fields. Meanwhile, we have good international programming to support the teachers. Every class has a volunteer teacher to help manage the students. The Chinese teaching staff also use western teaching methods to teach students. Principally, we create a peaceful environment for learning. Our administrative staff provide key support to the teachers to make sure the class is in good order.

Younger students like to play. So our teachers plan activities and use a variety of different teaching methods to make it interesting during the class. Also, since every child has a different learning style, our teachers include a range of visual, auditory, kinesthetic and tactile activities. In this way, each class is imaginative and different to impact the students.

Q: What are the advantages of SYIS?

A: The number one advantage is the teaching staff. The teachers are very qualified, very communicative with the students and very loving and supportive of them. Also, we follow a North American curriculum designed specifically for international students preparing to apply to universities around the world.

Meanwhile, we have received accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and the accreditation was for a full 6-year term.

For teaching methods, our teachers always keep their qualifications and knowledge current. That means they need to continue researching what is new. Every year, the staff participate in national and international teachers’ conferences. Moreover, we have relocated here to a new campus which has a great environment and facilities. We are part of a professional school system, and we have lots of experience teaching in China.

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