▲ St. Johnsbury Headmaster Tom Lovett (second from left) and JDC CEO Byon (second from right) at the signing ceremony. Photo Courtesy JDC
International schools continue lining up to open their doors at the Jeju Global Education City. St. Johnsbury Academy from Vermont is the latest to reach agreement with Jeju Free International City Development Center (JDC) and becomes the first American institution to join the burgeoning project.
The original school was established in 1842 and its Jeju incarnation, St. Johnsbury Academy Jeju, will accommodate 1,250 male and female students in grades 4-12. Renowned for its high academic achievement and admittance of students from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds, St. Johnsbury will open its doors in 2015.
In an approach that sets it apart from the existing schools at the sprawling education hub, St. Johnsbury Academy Jeju will not be a secondary partner to its more illustrious progenitor, but rather a wholly independent entity, guided by the St. Johnsbury educational philosophy.
Current St. Johnsbury Headmaster Tom Lovett told Newslinc, a Vermont community website, that the Jeju institution “is not a second campus [but] an entirely new school...built on the model of education that has made St. Johnsbury so successful.”
The alliance between St. Johnsbury and JDC reflects past agreements at the Global Education City, with JDC pledging generous financial support to the American school to set up base. JDC Director Jo Yong-suk stresses that these costs will not be shouldered by the Jeju taxpayer.
“Building costs for first-phase partner schools are covered by the JDC, an agency of the Korean government financed by banks. These costs will be recuperated over time,” said Jo.
Despite the high degree of operational independence given to St. Johnsbury Academy Jeju, Jo believes that it is still an integral part of the St. Johnsbury brand, which students will benefit from.
“The Jeju students will learn the same curriculum as at the US school and graduates will have access to the same privileges, recognition, networks, and alumni status as those granted to the graduates of the US school,” said Jo. “The school slated to open on Jeju will not be a franchise of St. Johnsbury Academy. St. Johnsbury Academy Jeju will be an independent school mirroring the St. Johnsbury Academy’s values and curriculum,” he added.
▲ JDC and St. Johnsbury representatives meet for the agreement ceremony on Nov. 29, 2012. Photo courtesy Jeju Special Self-governing Province
JDC and the Global Education City aim to provide Korean families with high-quality English-language education, without the crippling cost and inconvenience of sending children abroad. Korea currently sends more students overseas per capita than any other nation and is only beaten in real numbers by the throngs of India and China.
Of these Korean overseas students, over 110,000 are sent to the US and St. Johnsbury Academy Jeju hopes to ease the financial burden on parents by bringing the American product to Jeju. Such a high demand is seen as a damning indictment of the Korean education system and Jo believes this is where the attraction lies for Korean families.
“There is a desire in Korea to seek the benefits of the Western approach to pre-collegiate education. Many parents are dissatisfied with the rigid domestic school system and rote learning required for the college entrance exam, and want to send their children abroad so they can learn English and be offered a rigorous academic curriculum,” said Jo.
As the number of schools at the Global Education City continues to rise, competition for brand awareness among Korean families also increases. Such a challenge does not faze Headmaster Lovett, who is confident St. Johnsbury can offer something different.
‘We are confident that St. Johnsbury’s comprehensive curriculum and personalized approach to instruction, which has been so attractive to international students for decades, will make St. Johnsbury Academy Jeju a successful addition to the Global Education City,’’ Lovett told Newslinc.
JDC Director Jo agrees that St. Johnsbury does offer something different from the schools already present at the Global Education City, and suggests its appeal can spread far beyond Jeju’s shores.
“Unlike other independent schools that tend to be selective in admitting students, St. Johnsbury Academy offers a distinctive educational experience for young students from around the world with diverse interests, abilities and backgrounds. Therefore, St. Johnsbury Academy will be committed to providing world-class educational opportunities to young people throughout Asia,” Jo said.
With the number of schools set to increase further in the coming years, such brand distinctiveness could become increasingly important at the Global Education City.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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