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SIS prepares for its 50th anniversary, and for the next 50 years ahead

Students engage in sports at the Seoul International School in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province. Seoul International School
Students engage in sports at the Seoul International School in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province. Seoul International School
Founded in 1973 by Edward Ben Adams, Seoul International School is one of Korea’s oldest international schools. Adams was born in Daegu in 1938, to a missionary family who devoted themselves to education in Korea.
As Seoul International School prepares for its 50th anniversary next year, the school hopes to continue its tradition of inspiring students, and upholding its core values for the years to come, says the school’s current head of school, Michael Colaianni.
In an interview prepared by the school, Colaianni speaks about the school, his experience at the institution, and about the school’s place in society.

Michael Colaianni. Seoul International School
Michael Colaianni. Seoul International School
The Korea Herald: Tell us about Seoul International School
Michael Colaianni: Most of the nation‘s historic international schools started as schools for missionary families, but Seoul International School began as a secular school offering a refreshing diversity for the international community in Korea. Many of you may wonder about our name -– our school was founded on the campus of Konkuk University in Seoul. We kept the name SIS when we moved the campus to the current location in Seongnam to accommodate our growing community. Seoul International School is a K-12 school with WASC accreditation since 1976 offering an American Advanced Placement curriculum.

KH: Tell us about your career as an educator and your experience at SIS.
MC: My career started many years ago in a secondary modern school in rural Kent, England. After a few years in Kent, I was able to find a position at an international school in London and from there, through acquaintances with other teachers and through having known people in other schools, I was able to take positions in Malta and Paris. After a few years back home in the US, I had the wish to return to international schools and found a position in Lahore, Pakistan, moving to Kuala Lumpur and Duesseldorf after that. I became Assistant Principal in a Middle School in the State of Maine before arriving in Vienna as the middle school principal. Eight years later, I took a similar job in Kobe, Japan, again for eight years, then on to Florence, Italy, where I was elementary principal, and finally to Seoul International School as head of school.
You can see that I have been extremely fortunate over the years and to have landed in Seoul for my final position has been very special. SIS is a premier school in the region, a school which will always remain close to my heart.

KH: How would you evaluate Seoul International School?
MC: Seoul International School is well known in the community for its students’ academic success. However, we work hard to instill a sense of balance in our students to prepare them for life beyond SIS. In particular, we espouse TIGERS values, a character education that is fused into our daily lives from K to 12. TIGERS are Trustworthy Individuals, Independent Thinkers, Global Citizens, Effective Communicators, Reflective Learners, & Socially Responsible Individuals. Students learn that academic excellence requires a holistic balance to propel them toward becoming successful international citizens. Through participation in the various activities at school such as athletics, community service, performing arts, political interest groups, and so on, we hope students learn life management skills that will make them happy for the rest of their lives.

Students pose around a school bus in this file photo of the Seoul International School. Seoul International School
Students pose around a school bus in this file photo of the Seoul International School. Seoul International School
KH: What is Seoul International School’s vision for the next 50 years?
MC: Seoul International School will turn 50 years old in 2023. We have a chance to reflect on our achievements and reconnect with our alumni from around the world. We are home to graduates who we hope will take the opportunity to contribute to the overall betterment of society. Our vision is to foster an earnest passion for learning that inspires students to work with others in creating a better world for all. We are proud of the small part SIS has played in helping bring Korea to the world and the world to Korea through our students, faculty, staff and alumni community.

By Korea Herald (khnews@heraldcorp.com)
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