Alice Smith's Legacy Still Lives On

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Alice Smith has a wonderful history stretching back a historic 60 years. Perhaps the best way to understand the qualities that make the school so special is to look in more detail at where this legacy comes from and who Alice Smith was.

Alice Smith arrived in Malaysia as the wife of Hugh Fairfield Smith, a statistician at the Rubber Research Institute. Her strong sense of family values was obvious from the start. Not wanting to split up her family and send their children back to England to boarding school, she sought out a Malaysian alternative. As a result, The Alice Smith School was founded in 1946 when Alice Smith found that, because of WWII, none of the international schools had re-opened. Mrs. Smith thus decided that she would home-school her daughter. Word spread about what was happening and soon, Mrs. Smith opened up the doors of her home to more children in the neighbourhood. So successful was her small school, that the numbers soon reached 70 pupils, forcing Mrs. Smith to move location.

In 1949, the school moved to the Masonic Hall on Damansara Road. The fees were $60 per term and the children were taught by qualified teachers who, inspired by Mrs. Smith’s devotion to the students agreed to work for next to nothing. Indeed, so committed to her endeavours, Mrs. Smith did not take a salary for herself – ensuring that the pupils would benefit from additional resources. This legacy remains to this day, as a non-profit school; all money received goes to benefit the students in the form of new facilities, additional resources and state of the art equipment.

Unfortunately, in 1949, the pupils of the school were informed that Mrs. Smith would be relocating to America. Mrs. Lilley, who had worked alongside Mrs. Smith from the origins of the school, was appointed as Principal. She continued until in 1951; Mrs. Muir then became Principal and opened the Primary Campus on Jalan Bellamy in 1955, which is its current location.

During the next forty years, the school continued to grow in size and in 1997, 51 years after the founding of the Alice Smith School, a second campus opened in Equine Park, allowing children aged 11 to 18. It was officially opened by Prince Edward, the youngest son of Queen Elizabeth II on 12th September 1998.

Despite its tremendous growth, the school has never lost sight of Mrs. Smith’s values. When she visited in 1960, she was happy to note that her “cherished aim of individual attention for every child” had not been forgotten. Similarly, in 1990, she continued to praise the school’s devotion to giving “its pupils a sound grounding in the 3 Rs and an eager inquisitive approach to learning.” Sadly Mrs. Smith died in the early 1990s, but even now, sixty four years later, one could not fail to notice not only the continuous high standards of education, but also the upholding of Mrs. Smith’s founding values. It is these values, that each of us privileged to attend the school, take with us for life. It is this quality and commitment to the individual that makes the Alice Smith School a top of the range school that very much sets the standard for other international and private schools throughout Malaysia.

Source: This article appeared in The Expat during the year 2010

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