Dear SSIS Parents –
As a School we are very reflective about what we do. We create a culture in which every member of our staff—administrators, teachers, and support staff—have opportunities to hear from those they serve. We believe that honest feedback, given with a supporting spirit, can help each of us to improve and our School to grow stronger each year.
Recently we had a visit from Mr. John Littleford. Mr. Littleford is recognized by US independent and international schools as an expert in areas of school climate, school assessment, strategic planning and direction, and school governance. He was invited to visit SSIS this past week by our board to meet with small focus groups and to give us feedback on what he heard.
Given the time that Mr. Littleford spent with us at SSIS, it was impossible for him to meet the entire community. Instead we asked a small number of teachers and parents—specifically chosen to represent different voices across the School and division, with a wide range of experiences and opinions—to meet with Mr. Littleford. We appreciate how willingly everyone gave of their time and the openness with which they shared their own SSIS story with him.
What we heard was positive and in line with what we have seen in with internal and external surveys that we conduct each year. Our focus groups, both parents and teachers, believe we have a strong academic program that serves the needs of our children. While all schools have room to improve, we are proud of the education we deliver to our students here at SSIS.
We did learn that there are many great things about SSIS that we need to talk about more with o
ur community. Some are not aware that we operate on a “not-for-profit” model. While most international schools within Vietnam are owned by shareholders, and a portion of the tuition and fees charged by the school are paid out to these shareholders, SSIS does not operate this way. All money collected by SSIS in tuition and fees stays at the school and is spent on the education of your children. No money leaves the school to pay owners or shareholders.
This does not mean, of course, that we do not need to raise tuition from time to time. Hiring great teachers, maintaining great facilities, improving the academic program—all these cost money. As a friend of mine used to say, “You can’t provide ‘A’ level teachers if you pay a ‘C’ level salary.” Putting in a robotics program or offering students an acoustically designed auditorium for performance with an “A” level grand piano all cost money as well.
We work hard to make sure that this money is spent wisely and improves the quality of education. Last year we upgraded our auditorium and more work will be done this summer to complete that. We discovered, earlier this year, problems with the heating of the swimming pool and we will correct that this coming summer. Next year a new, administrative-level Director of University Guidance joins our staff for even greater emphasis on supporting our graduates.
Our staff works with to to do this in the most cost-effective way possible. When we wanted to beautify areas of the campus to reflect the natural habitat of Vietnam, our gardening staff built and landscaped the entire project during their regular summer hours, giving us a gorgeous garden area at very little cost to the school.
We will always work hard to serve your children with the highest quality education and services we can provide. Hundreds of people work at this school, united with a common purpose of supporting SSIS and its mission as “a college preparatory school committed to the intellectual and personal development of each student in preparation for a purposeful life as a global citizen.”
Mark Sylte, Head of School