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Build On, Build Up
2018 holds great significance as it is AI’s 55th Anniversary. In celebrating our 55th Anniversary, we would want to adopt a futuristic outlook and position AI well to ride new waves. At the same time, I would like us to be reflective so that we build on and build up. The guiding principle of Build On, Build Up was first adopted when the AI staff and I started the journey together in 2013. Much of what we do and say are guided by this principle. My message therefore serves as a valuable record of our accomplishments through five years of building on and building up. AI certainly is standing on higher grounds now.
This endeavor of building up the school is best appreciated at two levels.
Building the Hardware
The years of persistence in strengthening the school’s work processes and the consistency in upholding process discipline have brought about much improvement in school administration and operations. There is greater clarity of expectations and higher standards observed.
Through the yearly infrastructural upgrading works, staff and students have witnessed a big improvement in the physical learning environment and the intelligent use of common spaces. We started with the creation of the hanging garden in 2013, followed by the multi-functional MExpressions in 2014, then 2015’s expansion of music facilities with the new Chopin and Beethoven Rooms as well as the creation of Synergy Rooms equipped with flexible furniture to serve dual purposes as meeting and training rooms. Through it all, we have been innovative and imaginative in transforming AI spaces. In 2018, the school will have an Indoor Sports Hall, handicap-friendly ramps and a lift in the main school building. Students can also look forward to a new fitness gym. All these school improvement works contribute towards building a conducive learning environment for the students and an appealing work place for the staff.
Building the Software
Yet equally, if not more important are our programmes and people.
The school’s signature programmes continue to build up towards very good harvests. Our Learning for Life Programme (LLP), Character Development through Outdoor Learning Experience (OLE), has received much affirmation. For their great work in sustaining OLE for a good 12 years and yet keeping a dynamic, innovative outlook, the PE team had the privilege of presenting our OLE-LLP at the Physical and Sports Education Conference 2017. The Environmental Education efforts under OLE-LLP also received due affirmation as the school is conferred the Lotus Award in the 2017 School Green Audit.
Our Applied Learning Programme in Critical Social Inquiry (CSI-ALP) has expanded into multiple disciplines and now takes on a more integrated approach in the curriculum design. Bearing testimony of the programme’s impact and value are the school’s wins at external competitions such as N.E.mation 11 and ZaobaoComma Chinese Newspaper Editorial Competition 2017.
Our third signature programme, Enhanced Music Programme, is building up a good momentum. The seeds sown in the initial two years have borne some good harvests. Our first batch of EMP students graduated in 2017, and the vibrant aesthetics culture is clearly evident with the myriad of music experiences offered to our music students and general student population. In 2017, AI pioneered the offering of O-level Music to two Visually Impaired students, and we celebrated the 1st anniversary of our AESPIRE Lunchtime Concerts which have been a great hit with the students since its inception.
The work we do in school must always focus on building relationships and building people up. At the staff level, through StrengthFinder profiling, we seek to empower individuals and build effective teams. There have also been numerous deep conversations about AI’s academic mission and teachers’ professional craft with the introduction of the AI Teaching Map as a base to unite teachers in professional beliefs, language and actions. Among the AI staff, there is evidently a greater valuing of exchange of ideas, as well as a sincere appreciation of the power of team in building one another up through words and deeds.
Yet, our work as educators is only complete when we have built our students up well. With five years of consistent persistence with firm discipline, clear PASS-G classroom routines, high standards and expectations we hold with the students, we are witnessing an evident growth in the AI students in terms of good learning habits, positive tone of learning and higher aspirations.
The culture of care remains pervasive, as teacher-student relationship and peer relations are kept strong. Throughout the years, we have been receiving a continuous flow of good stories about student achievements and successful alumni. Of special mention is Student Councillor Pang Yong Ting whom the school nominated for CapitaLand Young Architect Programme, in which his team won the Most Innovative Project from Northwest CDC. Yong Ting proceeded to win one of the four Young Architect Awards and earned an attachment at CapitaLand in December 2017. Therefore, our work in AI is also very much about building the social and cultural capital of our students, so that they will have the confidence and courage to aspire higher and venture further.
Building a Culture of Care and Excellence
As the AI family grows over the five years, relationships deepen, learning expands, and the power of team strengthens. On this foundational culture of care, we build up towards a culture of excellence. In this pursuit, we shall be steadfastly purpose-driven and mission-focused. The following quote serves to inspire us as we reflect on our five-year journey and position ourselves to ride new waves in 2018:
“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
- Francis of Assisi
May we find courage to build on the progress made thus far and build up towards greater success for AI! Happy 55th Anniversary!