5 Key Takeaways From Dialogues With Elite US High School Principals | Vietcetera
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Feb 08, 2024
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5 Key Takeaways From Dialogues With Elite US High School Principals

Explore the intricacies of the US high school education through the eyes of 10 principals at prestigious American high schools, gaining valuable insights and diverse perspectives.
5 Key Takeaways From Dialogues With Elite US High School Principals

Source: Manh Hung for Vietcetera

FindingSchool x Vietcetera

The high school years play a crucial role in shaping a student’s life. This is when they start forming their worldview, fueling their curiosity and eagerness to explore the world. It’s also an ideal period for schools to help students discover and nurture their strengths, preparing them for university life and adulthood.

Season 3 of the EduStation series, sponsored by FindingSchool, takes a fresh approach by sharing insights from across the hemisphere. Host Hùng Võ engages with principals from ten leading US boarding schools, offering a thorough overview of American high school education, dorm life, college preparation, and the journey to becoming a global citizen.

This season isn’t just informative for parents and students considering US education but valuable for anyone interested in educational and personal development. Let’s revisit some of the noteworthy takeaways shared in each episode of EduStation’s third season.

Episode 20: Shaping Future Leaders

Guest Speakers: Theresa Smith - Head of Webb School, and Alex Curtis - Head of Choate Rosemary Hall

Dr. Alex Curtis points out that teaching academic knowledge or situational skills is no longer enough in our rapidly changing world, marked by continuous technological advancements and complex geopolitical shifts. Students must be equipped with foundational abilities to adapt to any change – skills that will remain relevant in the future, whether in 5, 10, or 20 years.

Key among these skills is the capacity for comprehensive understanding and multi-dimensional analysis. Students should be able to synthesize connections among people, events, and experiences to form their own lessons. Additionally, clear and articulate communication skills, both in speaking and writing, are invaluable in any field they pursue.

Dr. Theresa Smith emphasizes the significance of nurturing community engagement and leadership qualities. At Webb School, the curriculum is woven into everyday activities, such as managing daily tasks in dormitories. Encouraging students to experiment and learn from failures is also critical, as it leads to meaningful personal growth and learning.

Episode 21: Advantages of Single-Gender Education

Featured Guests: Amy Kumpel - Director of Upper School, Dana Hall School (for girls), and Jim Detora - Head of school, Avon Old Farms School (for boys)

While Vietnamese parents and students are generally more familiar with co-educational settings, this episode delves into the unique benefits of single-gender schools. How do these environments differ in educational approaches, and what advantages do they offer over co-ed schools? How do they mitigate potential disadvantages?

Jim Detora explains that boys learn differently from girls. For instance, boys tend to be more competitive and enjoy physical activities. Therefore, at Avon Old Farms, classrooms are designed with ample space for movement and physical engagement during lessons.

A limitation of this model is the reduced interaction with female peers, potentially impacting students’ social skills. To address this, the school organizes weekly social activities with students from two nearby girls’ schools, ensuring well-rounded social development.

Amy Kumpel emphasizes the empowering environment of girls’ schools, where students can openly discuss gender-specific issues. This environment fosters healthy relationships among women.

Many female students report that studying in a girls-only environment allows them to focus more on their studies without worrying about what boys might think. They also receive education on women’s rights and empowerment, including pursuing careers in traditionally male-dominated fields.

Episode 22: Integrating Vietnamese Students into US Boarding Schools

Guests: Michael C. Wirtz - Head of School, St.George’s School, and Dr. Randy Bertin - Head of School, Cushing Academy

Around 40,000 Vietnamese students annually opt for overseas education, with an increasing trend towards younger ages and secondary education abroad. The key question is: How do these students smoothly transition into the American boarding school environment and prepare for university?

At Cushing Academy, the presence of ‘dorm parents’ is integral. These individuals are on hand 24/7 in the dormitories, supporting even the most minor issues and informing parents via various digital platforms tailored to their geographic locations.

According to Michael Wirtz, engaging the students’ parents in their educational journey is vital. Schools encourage parents to participate in selecting majors and universities, but ultimately, the students lead the decision-making process, as they are the ones who will shape their futures.

Episode 23: What Can Be Learned from Pursuing Top US Universities

Featured Speakers: Alex Lockett - Head of Cate School, and Charlie Cahn - Head of Suffield Academy

In the changing landscape of U.S. college admissions, where standardized tests like the SAT or ACT are no longer paramount, the focus shifts to what else students can offer. What should high school students focus on to enhance their college applications?

Alex Lockett emphasizes the importance of students identifying their strengths, with arts playing a vital role in this self-discovery. Whether it’s music, visual arts, or theater, these disciplines encourage creativity and free thinking, which is valuable even for those who don’t naturally excel in them.

Charlie Cahn highlights the value of AP (Advanced Placement) courses, which, despite their rigor, acquaint students with college-level academic rigor. At Suffield Academy, students are uniquely encouraged to enroll in AP courses outside their comfort zones. This approach not only fills gaps in their knowledge but also promotes a well-rounded academic skill set.

Episode 24: Cultivating Global Citizens

Featured guests: Pieter Mulder - Head of School, Berkshire School, and Tony Jaccaci - Head of School, Tabor Academy

In our interconnected world, individuals with cultural intelligence (CQ) stand out. They’re adept at navigating and appreciating diverse cultural landscapes, an essential skill in globalized settings. What educational strategies can high schools employ to develop students into global citizens?

Tony Jaccaci emphasizes equipping students with the skills to manage the deluge of global information proficiently. Tabor Academy instills courage as a foundational value, exemplified by the Tabor Boys’ sea voyage program, where students take on crew roles for a hands-on, collaborative learning experience on the ocean.

Pieter Mulder advocates for an East-meets-West educational approach. By integrating Eastern education’s discipline and teamwork with Western pedagogy’s creativity and freedom, students are prepared for a well-rounded and adaptable learning experience, enabling them to thrive globally.

Season 3 of EduStation will feature a series of conversations between host Hùng Võ and principals from 10 of the top U.S. boarding schools. This “American Edition” of EduStation promises to offer unique insights into how one of the world’s best education systems operates.

Season 3 of EduStation kicks off with episode 20. You can catch it on Vietcetera’s YouTube channel or Spotify.

The series is supported by FindingSchool, an EduTech platform that connects millions of families in Asia with top-tiered private K-12 schools worldwide, streamlining the search and connection process.