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Schools Head North

March, 2007
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Three international schools in Beijing announced this spring that they will expand their campuses with new branches in summer and autumn. This is good news for parents living in the north of Beijing. All three schools are opening branches in Shunyi or Lido. LittleStar talked to the schools to find out exactly what to expect.

The International Montessori School of Beijing: Always Montessori, always dedicatedThe_MSB_Champagne_Cove_Campus

The International Montessori School of Beijing (MSB), who opened a new campus opposite the River Garden Clubhouse last year, said they will open two new campuses this August. The new campuses will help them keep up with the rapid growth of the student population and the needs of expatriate families who are looking for quality early childhood education.

  According to Isabelle Mahon, the MSB communications director, their existing River Garden campus now has only three classrooms, one for Nursery and two for Kindergarten children, which is “obviously not enough to meet the demands of parents”.

  Two new MSB campuses are Being established in the Shunyi area. Cherry Tree Lane campus is located behind the Quanfa Gardens, also close to the Beijing Riviera, Lane Bridge, Cathay View and Grand Hills villa compounds; while its Champagne Cove campus, nearby the new Capital Airport terminal, will serve not only residents of Champagne Cove, but also those of Dragon Villas, Portland Villas and Napa Irvine in the area.

  “As our students are young, MSB places great importance on building schools close to home,” said Mahon, “The new purpose-built campuses are well designed for Montessori education in preschool through elementary.” The Cherry Tree Lane campus, MSB’s new main school campus, will have large, bright and airy classrooms, a full complement of track, ball court and soccer sports facilities, library, ICT, science lab, and art and music studios as well as a suite of 6 spacious rooms for all aspects of learning support.

  Msb_2 The campus also boasts an indoor children’s swimming pool, where the school will offer water safety courses for toddlers as well as swimming classes year round. The other campus at Champagne Cove will also feature large indoor and outdoor play areas; meanwhile students will have exclusive access to the club pool. “Swimming for young children is an absolutely important skill. Over the years we have always wanted to have our own swimming pool for the children and we got it,” Mahon enthused.

  Opening in this August, the Cherry Tree Lane campus will serve children from preschool to Grade 3, and Champagne Cove campus is for children up to 6-years-old.

  The school also has plans to extend its Montessori programs to the elementary level, year by year till Grade 6. “At MSB, we focus exclusively on these exceptionally important early years,” emphasized Mahon. “Research indicates that about 80 percent of a child’s intelligence develops before age eight. During this important period, children acquire their foundation in reading and math, cumulative disciplines in which each step is a critical building block for further learning.”

  MSB is implementing a new Chinese program to enrich the Chinese learning among its students. The director says expanding the campus into the elementary level will allow the children to continue studying in the Chinese program, and the Montessori system longer. “The influence of Montessori education on their way of learning could be considerably influential if the children stay in it for more years,” she added.

  The lack of space has been a big issue at MSB, because the school offers a lot of individual and small group attention. With both new campuses opening, the problem gets solved, too.

  “In the MSB classroom, teachers work with students as individuals, not just as a class. Each child’s progress is monitored individually, and lessons are offered to children in an environment which stimulates their interest and engages their attention. Each child learns at his or her own optimal pace - neither held back nor left behind - ensuring that each child remains focused and interested in the subject at hand, and furthers his or her love of learning.”

  MSB’s expansion means new teachers. The additional staff will be recruited from Montessori schools around the world, with some staff who have taught at the school since its early years rejoining the school, according to Mahon. She also believes this provides a sense of stability and continuity to the MSB environment.

  The administration is confident that there will be plenty of new students to fill the new schools. There are already many children in Shunyi, still more families coming to this area, and of course more to be born there.

Children’s House International Montessori Kindergarten: Moving out, moving forwardChildren'sHouse_1

Another Montessori school, the Children’s House International Montessori Kindergarten, is also expanding. It will open its new campus in the Yosemite villas right after the May Day holiday.

  The Children’s House International Montessori Kindergarten opened its doors to the children of the world in September 1992 at The China World Trade Center. After 11 years, it started its second campus at Beijing’s Lufthansa Center in February 2003. This time, it took only four years to open a third branch in suburban Beijing.

  “We’ve always been in downtown, it will be exciting to move out,” said Paula Zhou, the school principal. “We will have many new and dynamic teachers coming in, who will be able to compliment our existing team by offering more to the school with new ideas.”

  The Yosemite campus is much larger than either of the two established campuses. It has a huge indoor and outdoor play areas, as well as libraries, children’s kitchens and beautiful classrooms, etc.

  This newly furnished two-story school will be able to accommodate 180 children, but only the first floor of 3 classes will be open at the beginning.

  The principal believes building the software is the most important when opening a new school, and it takes time to find good, committed teachers. “When there are excellent teachers in the school, parents can feel the warmth, love and security, ultimately trusting us with their children,” said the principal. “The main trait of The Children’s House is the warmth of the staff and the personal approach that we offer to every family, once the school has opened, this will be seen and felt by all.”

  At present, Children’s House International Montessori Kindergarten is full in its World Trade Centre campus with 100 children, plus a waiting list; the Lufthansa campus is nearly full with 60 students. And more than 10 families are already registered for the new campus in Yosemite.

Beanstalk International Bilingual School: “The Great March”

Mike Weeks, the principal of Beanstalk International Bilingual School, has a plan to march the whole school to their new campus at the Upper East Side next to Lido on the first day of school this autumn. “We will call it ‘The Great March’,” said Weeks. “It is good to have a campus that children are excited about.”

  The new BIBS campus will have 35 to 38 well-equipped classrooms, a modern library, art rooms, music rooms, regular science labs, an auditorium, a gymnasium, kitchen facilities and boarding areas, according to the principal. Beanstalk parents will have their own on-campus office, and work areas for teaching staff will also be provided. “Teachers and parents are key to the school building,” said Weeks.

  Every room will have the latest technological gadgets, such as smart boards, video with online programs or overhead projectors.

  Open house for the new campus will be held in May and June when the interior work is finished. And the whole school will move in by the end of August.

  The principal believes the new campus will be a milestone for the development of Beanstalk, and new facilities will offer more opportunities for the kids. But the brand-new school will help teachers, too. “I think the improvement is going be in the teachers. They are going to feel better with more support with more and better teaching facilities. Since it’s easer for teachers, it is easier for students,” he said. “Right now, we still use a lot of the chalk boards, no regular science labs, and limited space of the classroom which kept us from running a lot more small-group projects.”

  The new campus will also be a lot safer than the old grounds, which had a busy street in the front. Being close to other area schools will provide Beanstalk students more opportunities to play sports with other school kids, hold competitions or share ideas.

  According to the principal, the school administration is already looking into building a second building beside the main one. This would be used as the preschool and kindergarten campus. If it works out, the two buildings will go together as the new Beanstalk campus.

  “Realistically, I would say it (new Beanstalk) would be a comfortable school for 500 students,” the principal concluded. “If the kindergarten children are counted, 700 to 800.”

  “2007 is also an accreditation year for Beanstalk,” continued Weeks. “With the new campus opening, we wish to put whole energies into making sure the school has excellent goals and great learning outcomes.”


By Xing Yangjian

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