International schools today offer so much more than schools of generations past, and Australian International School Malaysia is no exception. Editor Chad Merchant talks here with the Head of Middle and Senior School, who is settling nicely into her role after a year on the job.
Australian International School Malaysia is the only school in the country which offers the broad and well-rounded Australian curriculum. A vivacious and dedicated faculty ensure that the school remains at the fore of 21st-century learning here in Malaysia. We recently met Mrs. Simone Fuller, AISM’s Head of Middle and Senior School and talked with her about some of the innovative elements and practices at AISM, along with her own observations about education.
Simone has been an educator for 25 years. In this time she has worked in the UK, Singapore and Australia. She has previously been the Head of Middle School at the Australian International School in Singapore and more recently Deputy Principal at the Queensland Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Technology, a selective entry government IB World School. Additionally, Simone has been involved in the implementation of the Australian Curriculum in Queensland, Australia and IBO MYP and Diploma at these settings and has extensive knowledge in each.
Mrs. Fuller, in your first year at AISM, what have been some of your observations about the school? In your view, what makes AISM special?
The most notable aspect of our school outside of a high-quality academic program is the sense of community. As a school with an enrolment of just under 700 students, a genuine school family atmosphere is present. There is extensive support offered for new families and students with every new member of the AISM family being made to feel very welcome.
Each sub-school at AISM targets the learning needs of the age group. In particular, our Middle School caters for the differing needs of students during the early years of adolescence. Providing this special focus allows these students to make a seamless transition between the Junior and Senior years of schooling.
Given your extensive experience as an educator, can you elaborate on what you consider “holistic learning” to be, apart from academic instruction, and what contributes to a well-rounded student?
Learning is not just about the academics. This is our core business; however, it is important to educate the whole child. Our aim is to educate our students in becoming leaders within a global community. In order to understand what it means to be a global citizen, students need to have an understanding and appreciation of the world in which they live. We have a strong emphasis on Service Learning which is embedded in our curriculum. Our students leave us with an understanding of the importance of giving back to others and an intrinsic motivation to do so. We also believe strongly that our students need to develop skills that will allow them to be successful in the 21st century. Skills such as collaboration, communication, leadership, critical thinking and problem solving are taught and developed in our classrooms every day and are an integral part of our pedagogical practice. In summary, holistic learning encompasses not only knowledge, but also skills and attitude.
AISM has just unveiled its brand-new Careers and Senior Study Centre after several months of renovation. Can you tell us about the Centre and explain the benefits you feel it will offer your students, particularly with regard to the School’s motto of “Explore, Extend, Excel”?
The Careers and Senior Study Centre is a focal place for students to study independently between classes, to work collaboratively in small groups and a place to explore pathways to careers and tertiary courses. The AISM Career Guidance Counsellor, Mr Chris Broadbent, works closely with the senior students to customise their subject selection that will maximise their likelihood of reaching their career goals. His office is a part of the new Careers and Senior Study Centre.
Information and communication technology (ICT) literacy and research skills are a significant focus in the Study Centre through the provision of a MAC lab which allows students ready access to the internet including a plethora of online and school-based resources.
As new schools and facilities are built – and AISM is certainly part of this – much thought is put into how the design of the facilities can help enhance learning. Can you talk about the specific design elements of the Study Centre? Were AISM faculty involved in the planning and design?
Much thought has gone into the design to allow for students to have a variety of configurations that cater for their individual needs and learning styles. Student and teacher input has been considered in the design stage and has guided us to develop different types of learning spaces within the Centre.
Other new teaching spaces in 2015 include two new Science laboratories, making a total of five Science laboratories at the school, and a large Design and Technology Centre, housing a computer design suite and other technologies.
Source: The Expat Magazine March 2015
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