It’s an exciting year at Stamford American School Hong Kong. Four years since its opening, the school has grown not only in terms of student numbers but also facilities and curriculum offerings. With the next major milestone in sight – the first graduating class in 2023 – Head of School KARRIE DIETZ fills us in on the achievements to date, including IB accreditation, and what students can expect in the future.
A snapshot of Stamford
Number of students: 700 with capacity for 1,000; currently accepting Pre-primary to Grade 11 students with the capacity to accept Grade 12 in 2022/23
Class size: Maximum 24 students per class
Curriculum: Inquiry-based, American Education Reaches Out, Common Core Plus, IBDP
Location: 25 Man Fuk Road, Ho Man Tin, Kowloon
Stamford offers an American standards-based curriculum taught through an inquiry-based approach. “It’s important that we offer a progressive approach to teaching and learning with the standards in place for a clear path and milestones along the way,” says Karrie. “That way, we can also ensure growth and prepare students well for their futures.”
According to Karrie, this rigorous framework was key in helping Stamford achieve full IB Diploma Programme (IBDP) authorisation and accreditation from the Council of International Schools (CIS) in 2021.
To prepare every student for the IBDP, the school makes sure the IB learner profile attributes are fostered in students from age five and up. These values focus on developing global citizens who, recognising their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, help to create a better and more peaceful world.
While academic excellence is undoubtedly integral, the school also places a huge emphasis on whole-child development. “People often think you need to trade one for the other, however, care and nurture bring out the best in children,” says Karrie. In particular, four core values of integrity, courage, innovation and compassion are deeply rooted in the school ethos. “Last year was undoubtedly tough year; we have focused on resiliency, and our #StamfordStrong maxim was born out of COVID-19 to celebrate the gains we have made as a community amidst the challenges.”
Action speaks louder than words; and no one demonstrates Stamford’s value more than the staff. Karrie says the school is proud of its highly qualified and international team of faculty and staff. “They live our culture of care and model our core values for students every single day,” she says. “Their sensitivity to our students’ need, passion for their areas of expertise and continual striving for development form the backbone of our students’ success.”
Preparing for the real world
At high school at Stamford, learning happens beyond the classroom. So, in Grades 9 and 10, real-world learning is further enhanced through the school’s Cornerstones programme, which offers valuable experiences under the guidance of faculty and industry mentors. Unlike an internship or an organisational affiliation, Cornerstones is fully integrated into Stamford’s high school programme and counts towards course credit.
Each semester offers students an opportunity to work with one of the school’s external partners with distinct focuses that reflect students’ ambitions and strengths; these can range from architecture and future-focused design thinking, to e-commerce entrepreneurship, game design, technical arts, journalism, student leadership and visual art.
The projects are as unique as the students themselves, expanding beyond the curriculum and allowing children to delve deeply into their chosen topic.
Another key initiative is the Sophomore project. This offers Grade 10 students an excellent opportunity to enhance their research, project management and independent thinking skills. Students choose a topic to investigate and develop a plan under the guidance of a teacher-mentor. After creating a mock-up of their design and an in-depth report, they then showcase their work to parents and peers. The eight-month-long project is an excellent opportunity for students, irrespective of the academic pathway they’ve chosen; those who might not pursue IB can develop key skills, while it also serves as excellent preparation for those who’ll be undertaking the IBDP extended essay.
Having recently expanded facilities to provide additional learning spaces, Stamford now boasts a brand new design and technology workshop, specialist art rooms, science labs, outdoor space on the ground floor and rooftop, as well as a new library and collaboration space that was designed with the help of the students.
In 2023, Stamford will celebrate its first batch of graduates. All students receive the American High School Diploma, and there is the option to be an IB Course Candidate or pursue the full diploma programme.
“We’re passionate about choice and we are non-selective for our IBDP,” explains Karrie. “At Stamford American, we believe that every student is unique, which is why our curriculum and community work together to inspire each child to create their own pathway.”
A trip around the world for Global Be Well Day
As part of the Cognita Schools Group, which encompasses 80 schools worldwide, a special day is set aside at Stamford American School Hong Kong to recognise and encourage ways to be well as a school group. On Global Be Well Day, students participate in a range of activities to promote mindfulness and a healthy lifestyle. Last year, Stamford accepted Cognita’s Active World Challenge and logged an incredible 41,127 kilometres of walking, running, swimming and riding. The school community virtually “travelled” from Hong Kong to International School Zurich North in Switzerland in four weeks, and visited Cognita schools in Brazil, Spain and the UK along the way.
This article first appeared in the Autumn 2021 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.