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[It is with great enthusiasm, commitment, and creative energy that my family and I join the Olympia family. Having worked with the Board of Trustees, administrators, and teachers over the past three years and in American boarding and day schools for over twenty years, I can say with confidence that we are entering a community of professional and dedicated educators and a nurturing and supportive environment for all constituents.
There is no other school in Hanoi (or in all of Vietnam) that celebrates what it means to be Vietnamese in terms of culture while also providing a comprehensive experience in the study of English and global issues. Together as a team, we will continue to develop and to refine the Olympia experience for families and for students as we prepare them for what is an ever-changing future of challenges and opportunities. We seek to solidify fundamental skills, foster creativity and problem solving, and promote habits that will allow our students to adapt to new situations, to improvise, and to overcome unforeseen obstacles.
Indeed, we are preparing students for life! I invite you to stop by the school anytime--you are always welcome, for we are proud of our students and teachers and, for that matter, our entire community. It is only through a true partnership--parents, students, teachers, administrators--that we can propel our students to achieve their maximum potential as students, but equally important, as global, ethical citizens.
So why Olympia? Michael Horn, the co-author of the award-winning book Disrupting Class with Clayton M. Christensen, made the following observations about Olympia on an article on Forbes magazine, entitled Visits to Vietnam's Schools Shed Light On Opportunities For Innovation:"It (The Olympia Schools) was the first Vietnamese school with a college counselor on site like an international school—normally college counseling is offered via a separate paid center—and its graduates often attend university overseas. It stays open late to assist its parents who work. Olympia Schools offers some online learning options to its students—in particular through an online software program called English Central that assists its students in listening and speaking English. The school was very interested in expanding its use of online learning to create more personalized learning options for students and invited me back to speak to its staff a few days later about blended learning so that it could start a planning process immediately. I would not be surprised to see the school become a model for blended learning in Vietnam in the near future."
Since Michael's visit, we have put into place ThinkCerca as another on-line tool to assist students in reading and writing, and we will be looking to do the same with Mathematica, Khan Academy, IXL, software tools designed for science and mathematics. In addition, the Google platform that Olympia is using will allow us to do more collaborative projects and allow cloud-based storage for digital portfolios. But these are only tools, and these tools only represent a fraction of the Olympia experience. They serve to assist our talented and creative faculty to reach each and every student's learning profile as they became self-actualized lifelong learners. We place the highest premium on the art and craft of teaching; without quality teachers who engage, motivate, and challenge students, technology and curriculum will fall flat. Our "Olympia University" occurs two weeks before the opening of school, and during this time we set goals and objectives for the year, increase our knowledge and proficiency in best practices, and work and design in teams to further enhance our espirit de corps.
The Olympia Schools, the evolution of Dreamhouse that began back in 2003 with the vision of providing the best early childhood education possible, has its identity rooted in the fundamental belief that all children deserve a nurturing environment to explore their innermost intellectual, social, and character development. This spirit and culture permeates the halls of the Olympia Schools today as evident in our graduates. I encourage you to reach out to them, for they are living testimony to the wonders of this education, and it is one of the main reasons we decided to raise a family here and accept such a honorable role as the Head of Schools. With this honor comes the responsibility to provide the very best experience for every family and student, and I promise you a relentless effort to make this happen.
Christopher Mark McDonald
Head of Schools