Red Brick Daily

If your kid has a foreign passport and you’ve got a bit of extra cash you don’t mind parting with, there really isn’t a better school in south Taiwan than the Kaohsiung American School.

KAS is VERY unlike the Taipei American School (TAS) — not that Taipei is bad or anything — but the atmosphere in the south is much more chilled … plus, as everything is brand spanking new, KAS really does shine.

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Take their pool for example: it’s one of only three in Asia that has a floor that can be lowered or raised — depending on the depth you need for the swimming class you’re teaching.

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(Photo via Daily Mail shows the concept of a pool with a changeable depth)

The soccer pitch uses artificial grass — that feels so real it’s nuts — along with ground up cork. Not only does this more than adequately simulate grass, but it’s also better for the environment as you save on water … and damaged sections are easily replaced.

Massive auditorium for concerts and events … indoor and outdoor basketball courts … tennis court, weight room, dance studio, huge cafeteria with fresh food made on site? — Check ‘Yes’ to all of the above.

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The staff is an interesting blend of old-timers and newcomers … and these folks deserve credit for pulling off the near impossible.

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For a little context: KAS started out as the brainchild of a few teachers in KHH back in 1989. They got together with AIT KHH (The American Institute in Taiwan) and got some sponsorship from the Chang Gung Memorial Hospital … before setting up a few desks in an apartment and starting a ‘school.’

Years later they moved to an old elementary school campus on at the south end of Lotus Lake in Zuoying District.

More years passed as they sought funds, permits and backers to tear down the old school and build their vision.

Dr. Tom Farrell, the current principal of KAS, told visitors at Friday’s opening of phase two — which includes all the sports-related stuff mentioned above — that Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu was a great help … but only after an interesting exchange:

The mayor said if KAS wanted to get city approval for any new construction, they’d need to tear down the outer wall of the old school that was lined with barbed wire.

Why?

Chen said every time she passed the campus it reminded her of some sort of penal institution and that barbed wire was not in keeping with the open, accepting Kaohsiung she was trying to build. (remember, Chen spent six years in prison during the 1980s for advocating democracy)

Dr. Farrell said they tore down the wall … and realized Chen was right. They needed to do more than just build an awesome school, he realized, they needed to become a part of Kaohsiung and its culture … and he’s glad they were prodded to do so.

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While tuition is obviously out of the range of many if not most KHH parents  — not to mention the foreign passport requirement — hopefully school-to-school and faculty-to-faculty interactions might encourage some re-thinks in local schools … that could lead to a more “holistic” approach to education all across Kaohsiung.

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Nice work, KAS … and can we use the pool?  🙂

 

(Photos via ICRT / KAS / Brown University Teaching Blog)

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