Positive, caring, engaged: these three words would be a welcome sign to any school-searching parent, conjuring up a vision of a learning institution where children excel while feeling supported and nurtured. These words not only appear in the welcome introduction of the International School Ho Chi Minh City – American Academy handbook but describe the School’s overarching approach.
Also known as ISHCMC – American Academy, this is Vietnam’s top American secondary school for children aged 11 to 18. The phrase “positive, caring, engaged” represents the cornerstones of the ISHCMC – AA, underpinning its teaching methodology and influencing the student experience. While the Academy encourages its students to take a positive approach to life by adopting a growth mindset, it also fosters a caring environment with a focus on global citizenship, teaching students how to engage with the world around them.
The ISHCMC – American Academy Approach
Alongside a quality education, students at ISHCMC – American Academy gain a lifelong passion for learning, which is deep-rooted respect for other cultures, and the crucial support to become their best selves. All this stems from the School’s drive to provide a learning community that is positive, caring, and engaged. Here’s how.
ISHCMC – American Academy recognizes that teaching children to approach life with a positive attitude helps them develop self-belief and self-agency. The School helps students practice positive mindsets by building character, resilience, and academic language skills. In turn, this enables students to define their goals and meet challenges that come their way, whether in their academic or professional careers or their personal lives.
The School’s house system also encourages a friendly, communal atmosphere by grouping students into four houses: Dragons, Sharks, Phoenix, and Lions. Teachers and administrators award house points to recognize positive mindsets and actions that contribute toward the School community.
The School’s faculty of dedicated teachers create strong learning communities based on trust and respect. ISHCMC – American Academy sets exceedingly high standards for staff qualifications; the minimum requirement is a BA degree, and teachers must provide credentials from their home country and have five years’ experience in a teaching role. More than 70% of faculty also hold an MA or Master’s of Education degree. Staff ensure students learn in an environment that makes them feel safe, encouraged, and cared for.
The School also offers counseling for academic, social, personal, and career development. This counseling takes place in specialized groups and one-to-one sessions on subjects such as social skills, anxiety reduction, emotional regulation, and cognitive behavioral interventions for trauma.
ISHCMC – American Academy empowers its students by providing them with a truly international education. The skills, knowledge, and qualifications they acquire during their time with the School are flexible and transferable, setting them up for successful futures in the modern, connected world.
Whether graduates use all they have gained at ISHCMC – American Academy to access higher education in Vietnam or abroad or seek work experience or explore other areas beyond academia, they have a great foundation to start from. Students engage in the world around them with a global mindset that’s firmly embedded in their home culture and language.
A Personalized Approach to Learning
ISHCMC – American Academy offers a comprehensive and challenging curriculum that builds on the values and principles of the American education system. The understanding that students learn best through an active, collaborative method with differentiation depending on the learning objectives and students’ needs underpins the School’s teaching approach. Wherever possible, teachers personalize their instructing approach from student to student, so that every child finds a level of challenge and support that best suits them. Teachers also signpost and highlight opportunities for students to capitalize on their personal strengths, talents, and interests.
At Middle School, which covers Grades 6 to 8, students focus on the development of essential foundational skills, effective learning attitudes, independence, and positive relationships. Core subjects include English, Social Studies, Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Vietnamese Studies, Physical Health and Education, and Band. The Exploratory Program lets students gain experience in topics such as Computing, Robotics, Design, and Visual and Performing Arts, and students also have the option to study Mandarin.
Those at the High School level, in Grades 9 to 12, broaden their skills and work towards their graduation requirements, building a network of knowledge that will support their studies in further education. A range of elective classes, similar to those they may have pursued in Middle School, complement staple core courses in Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, English Literature, and Vietnamese Studies.
ISHCMC – American Academy has designed its curriculum to be flexible and responsive to student needs. The Academy is the only school in Vietnam to allow Grade 11 students to undertake university-level courses within Advanced Placement (AP) and Syracuse University Project Advance (SUPA), providing an opportunity for enrolled students to attain a Syracuse University transcript alongside their high school diploma. The Academy has also designed its curriculum to allow students to shape their studies around their interests and skills so they can personalize their pathways toward graduation.
On top of this, ISHCMC – American Academy runs a Future Ready Skills program that allows students to develop their understanding of the world by encouraging them to undertake and reflect on activities and experiences that broaden their knowledge of international contexts.
Beyond the Classroom
Opportunities for learning and personal development extend beyond the classroom at ISHCMC – American Academy. In November of each year, students experience a week of Field Studies at various locations in Vietnam and Cambodia. On top of this, the annual Science Fair is a much-anticipated chance for collaboration and for talented young scientists to demonstrate how classroom knowledge can apply to the real world. And the yearly SUPA & AP Symposium is an academic conference showcasing students’ skills and ideas, demonstrating their readiness for university education.
Additionally, After School Activities (ASAs) provide a vital element of the ISHCMC – American Academy experience. ASA programs in sports, technology, the visual and performing arts, community service, and experiential learning activities enrich students’ lives and encourage a holistic approach to personal development. Among the most popular ASAs are table tennis, board games club, photography, and video production. Meanwhile, students selected for the School’s soccer, basketball, volleyball, and badminton teams enjoy regular competitions as part of the Saigon International Schools Athletic Conference (SISAC) league.
The School year runs from mid-August to mid-June of the following year and, divided into two semesters, each with a further two terms, provides a minimum of 180 teaching days. ISHCMC – American Academy offers rolling admissions, allowing entry throughout the year as long as there are available places, and considers all applications in order of receipt. Once reviewed by the Admissions Office, the School schedules age-specific assessments, followed by informal interviews with the school counselor and head of school to decide upon successful admission.
All students also have access to ISHCMC – American Academy’s pastoral care system, which sees each child become a member of an advisory class. These small student communities meet each day with an advisor who helps them achieve their academic goals and maintain their emotional well-being. Teachers also meet in Grade Level teams to monitor student well-being and academic progress.
On top of this, Student Services deliver social emotional lessons, and students have access to three counselors who can offer academic, social, emotional, and mental health support.
About ISHCMC – American Academy
ISHCMC – American Academy is a world-renowned American international secondary school in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The School inspires students to strive for success in education and in life through a rigorous American accredited curriculum, substantial pastoral care, and English language immersion. While students learn to appreciate and collaborate with other cultures, they also complete mandatory courses on Vietnamese language and culture. As the only international school in Vietnam to offer opportunities to achieve early university credit, its graduates are well prepared to gain access to quality U.S. and international post-secondary education.
ISHCMC – American Academy’s dedication to delivering a high-quality education and ensuring a safe, nurturing learning and working environment involves strong communication with students’ families. The School engages seamlessly with parents, communicating updates on a child’s progress through their online gradebook, reports after each term and semester, and parent-student-teacher conferences in October and March. The services of the school counselor are also available to both students and parents.