Sunday, November 9, 2014

Pasir Ridge International School

“A small school that is big on learning.”

Seamus Marriott, the head of school here, reminded me that - that is how I described the Pasir Ridge International School when Sara and I visited two years ago. It is probably the smartest thing I’ve said in a long time.

Well two years later my comment is just as true. Sara and I love coming to this little knowledge factory on the east coast of Borneo. This school runs grades pre-K through eight and totals in the area of 75 students so everyone knows everyone. At PRIS lunch is an inclusive affair with 2nd graders sharing the table with 8th graders; a 4th grade girl may be organizing a game of “kick the cone” for the Kindergarteners at recess and a parent jumps up to volunteer to lead the birthday commemoration at Monday morning assembly. 

At Pasir Ridge they teach thinking not subjects. Oh sure there are Science, English, and Social Study classes and units – but it’s the atmosphere of inquisitiveness that permeates the humid jungle air that grows the accomplishment here. When asked about test prep Seamus says he tells the kids to get a good night’s sleep and have a breakfast the day of. It seems to be working – this school consistently tops the charts on standardized tests – most recently every single student scoring well above average.

PRIS is a writing school where the students evidence their learning through their writing. We wrote about electricity in 3-4 with the kids and their teacher Theresa Marriott, about good citizenship in K thru 2 (Don’t break stuff, follow the rules and don’t pick flowers in other people’s gardens!) We personified emotions in the middle school as well as extending a few metaphors. Everyone participated and everyone shared and everyone took risks. We did writing clinics we usually reserve for grade levels a year or two beyond and these guys ate it up – taking on the challenge and coming through with success.

What makes kids willing to go out on a limb for a couple crackpot poets from Cleveland, Ohio? It’s feeling safe in their classroom, knowing that individually they and their education are really cared about and important to all the teachers and administration at PRIS.  It really is an extended family and one that Sara and I appreciate getting play the role of the little off-kilter Aunt and Uncle who show up to talk writing every now and then.

So, if you are lucky enough to be headed to Pasir Ridge International School get a good night’s sleep, eat your breakfast and be ready to be inspired.

1 comment:

Mary Carlson said...

Both of my kids went to PRIS. My oldest attended from first through fifth grade and my youngest attended Pre-K through third grade. They are both successful college students! It was a wonderful environment for learning and they benefitted greatly from being there. Having D&T (design and technology), music and art daily, along with core subjects kept them interested and involved. They were working with glue guns and batik wax at an early age, and performing in front of the entire school in plays and morning assemblies. The kids never felt embarrassed or apprehensive about participating. The smaller environment fostered a wonderful, caring environment of learning and friendships. The school benefited from wonderful teachers and a great support staff. It was truly one big family. I feel blessed my kids were able to attend PRIS.