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American Apollo Academy Ready to Lift Off

September, 2016
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0j7a1505e589afe69cacAfter three years of steady growth, the Mind Sprout Academy, an international bilingual preschool, has now moved to a new and larger location in the Changfeng area of the Putuo District this July, and also has a new name – American Apollo Academy (AAA).

AAA now has students aged 18 months to six years, representing 15 different nationalities. Most students come from the communities between Gubei and Middle Ring Roads surrounding Tianshan Road in northwest Changning and southwest Putuo districts.

The school name ‘American Apollo Academy’ (AAA) came during a brainstorming session by the school directors when looking to see which English names could easily translate conceptually and audibly well into Chinese. While searching famous names from history, Apollo from Greek mythology was discussed but was determined to be too difficult for young learners to understand. But Apollo was also the name of the initial space exploration program of NASA in the United States. Space! Rockets! Exploration! All these ideas connected to what kids dream of and what early childhood education should also be about: exploring the universe, reaching for the stars and developing skills for the future. American dreams of yesteryear added with the American educational standards and collaborative project-based learning styles mixed well to create the name, American Apollo Academy.

0j7a1520e589afe69cacThe new school occupies the eastern half of the first two floors of an office building facing Yunling Dong Lu, near Danba Lu. The school sits at the front of a large office complex facing the main road and high-end residential communities. The new campus has 10 classrooms including two resourced for Montessori classes, a multi-function art/baking space, a large sport themed indoor play space, an open-air child’s library/reading space, and a dance/movement space.

The "Play Space" is a large indoor area used for free play time as well as structured PE/gymnastics activities and mini sports such as basketball and soccer. The arts and crafts space "Skylab" is set up for expanding the creativity of young students into various art projects and using their manipulative skills. This area doubles as a baking class space as well for the children to learn that valuable and tasty skill. The dance/movement room is set up for dance, ballet, music, and event preparation. It will also have after school activities such as ballet, drama and adult yoga classes. The library/reading space is named after the Mars rover vehicle "Curiosity" and is used for peaking the children’s interest in reading. It’s a comfy, lounge-like space and teachers are encouraged to utilize the space whenever a need arises to break out of the classroom and explore. Two Montessori learning-based classrooms are set up. One acts as a space for students three and under while the second has more age appropriate resources for the older children, up to age six.

0j7a1529e589afe69cacThe team has also grown at American Apollo Academy to include an American educator who has profound experience in Shanghai’s international schools and business operations, as well as a dynamic Taiwanese educator with a tremendous work ethic and passion for bringing the best teaching practices. AAA is fortunate to maintain the great team of teachers from Mind Sprout Academy and have added a new Canadian teacher that really captures the kids’ attention and enthusiasm. Additionally, a new PE instructor from the UK will join AAA in mid-September.

All classes have two staff members at all times, either Chinese/Chinese or English/Chinese. There are three staff serving the youngest ones in the Nursery class. To maintain more of a bilingual atmosphere, the English teachers spend lunches and free play time with the children, besides teaching their English topic classes.

As Mind Sprout Academy, the school had great success in using a mix of bilingual and Montessori style curriculum for the past three years. There is not much to change to the curriculum. Meanwhile, the new school aims to add new resources for pre-k and Kindergarten English studies, namely a great workbook series from DK Workbooks. The English contacts and time that each child spends with their English teachers will increase a lot this year. There are also structures added to the physical fitness and gym activities for children with the great new "Play Space." The Kindergarten aged children will get more intensive English study to prepare for matriculation to top bilingual and international schools in Shanghai.

0j7a1418e589afe69cacChinese lessons are being aligned to resemble the English lesson vocabulary for better bilingual understanding of various topics within a monthly theme. The school maintains the best of math and logic learning steps from the Montessori skills development learning system as well. 

American Apollo Academy believes American collaborative style project-based learning, repetitive Chinese-style drill activities, and Montessori individual-based practice all help to develop a balanced individual capable of working in groups as well as independently.

American Apollo Academy is an extension of the dream of the founders of Mind Sprout Academy, providing the nurturing, home-like and bilingual environment for the young children of the community. This year, that dream has grown to serve more of the same community, with a better, modern building along with more resources to help the children grow and reach their potential.

AAA is reaching higher, for the kids!  

BY XING YANGJIAN 

 

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