Expat: Could you describe the genesis of the new building and when it was officially opened and fully functioning?
GN: Planning for the new Junior School complex began several years ago, when it became apparent that the school would soon outgrow its current building. Following much consultation with stakeholders, including staff, parents, students, and the Taylor’s Education Group, the building was officially opened in February 2014. The building was recently officiated by YB Datuk Mary Yap Kain Ching.
Expat: What are the outstanding and unique features of this building? How will these features factor into theeducational process of the students?
GN: The school has been designed to promote 21st Century Learning. Whilst much of the core learning will of course occur in the classrooms, the open design allows students to break out of their classrooms and work collaboratively in large open spaces, whilst remaining in the teacher’s line of sight. The classrooms and common spaces have all been furnished to promote cooperation and communication amongst students and staff. Students will have wide access to technology, with computers, iPads, and Interactive Whiteboards available on each level. All rooms contain modern, comfortable and practical furniture and students’ work is prominently displayed around the school. There is a Science Lab, Art Room, Drama Studio, Music Classrooms, Band Room, Dance Studio, ICT Lab, and a large Multi- Purpose space for use by the Junior School students.
Expat: AISM is on a long-term expansion. How does completion of this building fit into those plans?
GN: In 2013, we had two classes per grade, starting with the Early Learning Centre for our 3-5 year olds. The current academic block was at capacity and there was very little flexibility in relation to rooming. The new building will allow the school to grow to three classes per grade by 2015 and accommodate the increased demand for sport, cultural, and specialist academic facilities like Science Labs, Kitchens, Languages, and Support Services.
Expat: Could you discuss the library in the new building?
GN: The library is a beautiful, open plan, state of the art learning facility. It includes access to traditional and modern library facilities and is designed to facilitate group learning. The Power Learning Stations allow students to work collaboratively around large screens that connect wirelessly to laptops and iPads. Study rooms are available for senior students and comfortable areas are available to help nurture a love of reading.
Expat: As Head of Junior High, what are your professional thoughts on what having this new building means to the overall outcomes for students?
GN: The Australian curriculum is designed to focus on the development of general capabilities that will allow students to succeed in the 21st century. Literacy and Numeracy are two of the capabilities that are a priority in the Junior School at AISM. Between 50- 60% of curriculum time is dedicated to ensuring our students have a solid foundation in these critical areas so that they can excel in Middle and Senior School.
The new building allows us the space we need to operate comfortably and the opportunity to promote outstanding pedagogy. Almost all of the classrooms have large glass walls opening onto a central shared area. This means the traditional practice of teachers closing their doors and working independently will be a thing of the past. Further, a culture of collegial observation and peer mentoring has been established to assist teachers to constantly improve their practice, which will in turn enhance student learning outcomes.
Expat: How did the architects and the faculty design the building in keeping with the AISM motto and how will it enhance learning?
GN: The school’s motto is Explore, Extend, Excel. The new building provides the opportunity to explore all of the Key Learning Areas in modern, comfortable, and well-equipped learning spaces, to extend their skills, understanding, and knowledge in areas of interest, including the Creative and Performing Arts, whilst student excellence is celebrated through promotion and acknowledgement of academic, sporting, and cultural achievement.
Source: The Expat Magazine May 2014
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