International School Saigon Pearl

Day post: 13-03-2017
On the banks of the Saigon River at the fringe of District 1, and only five minutes travel time from the city center, the school is conveniently located for business and family communities. The school was founded to serve the educational needs of Ho Chi Minh City’s local and expat communities by providing a broad, American standards-based curriculum that incorporates best teaching practices. ISSP teachers will focus on nurturing students to develop confidence and competence in artistic expression, athletic involvement and academics. Small class sizes ensure individual attention. Students, faculty, staff, and parents will engage in an English-speaking environment while honoring the culture and language of the home countries of the students. Teachers are encouraged to use a wide variety of resources to help children make connections and advance their knowledge in developmentally appropriate ways. An active (out-sourced) after-school program will enrich the talents of the students. Technological skills and Mandarin as a Foreig Language will be introduced in pre-school and developed throughout the elementary curriculum. ISSP will integrate Vietnamese culture and international expertise to provide an inviting, dynamic learning experience for all. The excellent cadre of newly hired teachers will promote active learning. The classrooms, corridors and play spaces will encompass a strong community assisting International School Saigon Pearl students to develop personal skills to be successful contributors of society in the 21st century. 

During the first year of operation (2010-2011) the school will offer classes for nursery (2 years old by August 31, 2010), pre-school (3 years old by August 31, 2010) through fifth grade. In the following year, sixth grade will be added. Long range strategic plans include seeking WASC accreditation (initial steps taken, visit planned for spring 2011) and the opening of middle and high schools in succeeding years in another location.
Front: Sophie Karakatsoulis, Linda Woodring, Sally Grimsrud, Nell Hotke, Avis Larson, Leilanie Nacario, Mary Lower (HoS) Middle: Tim Yeager, Takayo Nakai, Diane Chau, Krisy Yeager, Jennifer Huff, Anna Santos Back: Frank Hua, Nancy Stubbs, Stephanie Short, Vicky Lusk, Todd Aydelott, Quang Doan

Curriculum: The school embraces an American standards-based curriculum. Permission has been obtained from Delaware and New York States to use their curricula as a base for developing a curriculum unique to the school. All core subjects are taught in English. Vietnamese nationals are provided with Vietnamese instruction for one period a day; and must attend some after-school sessions as well. When enrollment of other nationalities warrants – home language instruction for them will be offered as well. A rich visual and performing arts program, an active athletic program that includes swimming and beginner golf, and technology instruction contribute to the well-rounded growth and development of the students. 

Students: For the first school year, we have 45% Vietnamese enrollment, with 55% from other nationalities. Several other nationalities, among them American, British, Korean, Chinese and Japanese live in the community and may consider enrolling. 

Staff: Certified North American, Filipino and UK teachers are complemented by Vietnamese nationals as co-teachers (assistants) in each homeroom. A native speaker of Mandarin teaches the foreign-language program. A specialist in teaching English as a Second Language supports classroom teachers, provides guidance for differentiation and team teachers with homeroom teachers. An active arts and athletic program enhances the abilities and talents of all students. The Head of School/Principal with over eleven years of international administrative experience in Mexico, Egypt and Vietnam, eleven years of administrative experience in Canada and nineteen years teaching experience in Italy, Germany and Canada provides leadership breadth of experience and knowledge. 

Active After-School Program: Local artists and specialists enrich the talents of the students. Instrumental music, ballet, drawing and painting, and martial arts are among some of the opportunities offered to students. For the first year at least, while the teachers are working on the initial preparation for WASC and as we are tailoring the curriculum to suit our students, the after-school program will be outsourced. Parents will pay extra for this program. The program will be offered to all age groups.

The school facility is on six levels beginning with the basement, where the multi-purpose room, some offices and cafeteria are located. There is a play area for early childhood on the ground floor and play area on the top of the one floor library for the other children. The library is a unique feature of the school. The Library Media Center will use the Destiny electronic circulation and catalog system. Textbooks and instructional resources are tracked by Follett Textlink software. The entire school is fully networked with reliable and robust internet access and Wi-fi access. 

ISSP is owned by a group of Vietnamese shareholders and as such is technically a proprietary school. However, the school is viewed and operated as a non-profit-driven entity for the first few years as it becomes established in the city. The shareholders meet quarterly and/or annually to make major decisions concerning the governance and financing of the school. Ms. Nguyen Thi Hoa, has been appointed as the Chair of the Board of Shareholders and Chief Executive Officer. The day-to-day operation of the school is run by the School Board, which is academically led by Head of School. The School Board is fully committed to the development of ISSP to the extent that shareholders provide ongoing legal, architectural, construction and construction financing, security, and financial accounting support to the school. The Board believes deeply in the importance of education in general and is dedicated to the development of International School Saigon Pearl as a premier international school that can accept Vietnamese passport-holders, in Saigon. 

The school is seeking accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). Marilyn George has met with the CEO and the Head of School and an initial visit is planned for the spring of 2011. Much work will need to be accomplished by the faculty and shareholders, to prepare for a successful visit.