ISHCMC - American Academy, also known as the International School Ho Chi Minh City, is Vietnam’s leading American international secondary school for students aged 11-18. The Academy has an impressive reputation as an outstanding learning institution where children excel academically and challenge themselves in a nurturing, supportive environment.
No small part of this reputation lies with the School’s mantra: to be positive, caring, and engaged. While this phrase encapsulates the Academy’s optimistic, community atmosphere, it also guides every aspect of school life, from the wider approach to teaching and academic ambition down to the detail of students’ daily life.
Here, we’ll explore ISHCMC - American Academy’s mantra and how the School nurtures a positive, caring, engaged environment.
A Positive, Caring, Engaged Learning Community
ISHCMC - American Academy delivers a high-level academic education, and students receive all the support and guidance they need to flourish as well-rounded, happy individuals with a lasting love of learning and respect and appreciation for other cultures.
The School leverages its core values through positive attitudes and mindsets, caring teachers and counselors, engagement with the wider world, tailored learning pathways, and learning outside of the classroom.
Positive Attitudes and Mindsets
ISHCMC - American Academy believes that a positive attitude can transform a child’s experience of their education and life as a whole. To develop crucial skills like confidence, self-belief, and agency, the School encourages students to approach their goals, whether academic or extracurricular, with a positive mindset, seeing challenges as opportunities for learning and personal growth rather than obstacles they should avoid. This is an attitude that will serve students well throughout their education and into their future.
Additionally, teaching staff and administrators award points to students in one of the four houses — Lions, Sharks, Phoenix, and Dragons — for behavior that they deem positive and that contributes to the wider School community.
Caring Teachers and Counselors
The School’s unwavering commitment to its duty of care toward students is evident in the high standard that its teachers and counselors offer. All educators on staff must have relevant credentials from their country of origin, have spent at least five years teaching, and hold a BA at minimum, though over 70% of ISHCMC - American Academy faculty hold an MA or Master’s of Education degree.
Subject-wise, students are in expert hands, but their welfare is also well-protected: Teachers discuss their charges in grade-specific meetings, sharing insights between relevant staff to flag up risks or the early signs of any issues a student may be facing.
On top of this, school counselors support students across a range of academic, social, and personal issues. These counseling professionals aren’t just on hand when students decide to visit them: Regular counseling takes place in the form of specialized group meetings and one-on-one sessions, where pupils investigate a broad spectrum of subjects, like anxiety reduction, emotional regulation, social skills, and using cognitive behavioral methodologies with regards to trauma. This extensive pastoral system results in a student body that feels they can safely learn and grow knowing there is a dedicated network of trusted adults who care about their well-being.
Engagement With the Wider World
While some ISHCMC - American Academy graduates pursue further studies and professions in Vietnam, others seek higher education and career pathways overseas in countries like the U.S. and the UK. A great education would prove ineffective without the transferable skills and broad-ranging knowledge that children need to serve them as they one day take their places in a globally connected society.
This is why the School ensures students cultivate a deep respect and understanding for different cultures and traditions, while at the same time immersing students fully in the English language and providing a mandatory Vietnamese Studies Program so that students maintain their mother tongue and cultural roots.
Tailored Learning Pathways
The ISHCMC - American Academy curriculum takes inspiration from the values of a U.S. education, being broad-ranging, suitably challenging, and flexible enough for students to tailor their education and create unique learning pathways. The Academy believes that a collaborative and interactive approach to teaching helps students learn best, while also recognizing that no two pupils are the same.
Teachers modulate their methods of instruction for each child with appropriate levels of challenge and support to help students shine. What’s more, the teaching staff direct students to further learning opportunities wherever they can that will make the most of the child’s unique talents, interests, and strengths.
During Grades 6 to 8 in middle school, ISHCMC - American Academy emphasizes the development of essential foundational skills, effective attitudes towards learning, independence, and cultivating healthy relationships. The curriculum involves the following core subjects:
- Vietnamese Studies
- Social Studies
- Physical Health and Education
The Exploratory Program allows middle school pupils to discover further subjects such as:
- Visual and Performing Arts
Through Grades 9 to 12, high schoolers work towards their graduation requirements, developing the knowledge and skills that will prove essential during higher education. Students can explore a range of elective classes but must commit to the following core courses:
- English Literature
- Vietnamese Studies
- Social Studies
Grade 11 students also have the rare option to gain university credit through the Advanced Placement (AP) and Syracuse University Project Advance (SUPA) courses. The only school in Vietnam to offer this provision, ISHCMC - American Academy gives its pupils the valuable option of graduating with a high school diploma and a Syracuse University transcript.
Learning Outside the Classroom: Field Studies, ASAs, and More
Students at ISHCMC - American Academy have ample opportunities to learn and grow away from the classroom environment. This shifts the Academy’s approach from a purely academic focus to a holistic one, where students enrich themselves through varied outdoor, team-based, and experiential learning activities.
Of course, all the must-have extracurriculars are available and after-school activities (ASAs) form a crucial pillar of ISHCMC - American Academy. Students have a wealth of ASAs to choose from, including board games club, photography, and table tennis. There are also chances for community-minded pupils to volunteer and various programs in the liberal arts, technology, and sports. Keen athletes across the School’s basketball, volleyball, badminton, and soccer teams get to compete regularly through the Saigon International Schools Athletic Conference (SISAC) league.
Possibilities for students to broaden their horizons aren’t limited to time after school. Every November, students venture into locations across Vietnam and Cambodia for a week of field studies, while the hotly anticipated science fair provides a platform for young geniuses to put science theory into action and impress their peers and teachers with their scientific know-how. Plus, the annual academic SUPA / AP Symposium is the ideal event for keen high schoolers with their sights on a university degree to showcase all they have learned at the School so far.
Whether they’re in the classroom or taking part in any number of diverse activities, ISHCMC - American Academy students can expect a positive, caring, engaged education from this world-class school.
About ISHCMC - American Academy
ISHCMC - American Academy is the leading American international secondary school in Vietnam. The School empowers pupils to achieve their best in education and in life via a comprehensive American accredited curriculum and a strong pastoral care system. As ISHCMC - American Academy is the only Vietnamese school to offer early university credit courses, graduates are well equipped to enter quality post-secondary educational institutions in Vietnam, the U.S., and countless other countries.
With English as the language of instruction, students benefit from full English language immersion. While students learn to understand and embrace other cultures, compulsory courses on Vietnamese culture and language ensure they maintain a deep respect for the School’s home nation.
To complement the School’s delivery of first-class education and its commitment to a safe and supportive learning environment, ISHCMC - American Academy maintains strong and open lines of communication with students’ families. Through the twice-yearly parent-student-teacher meetings, pupils’ online grade books, and regular reports, released every term and semester, parents and guardians stay up to date with students’ academic and holistic progress. In addition, both students and their parents or guardians can access the services of the dedicated school counselor.
The ISHCMC - American Academy year contains a minimum of 180 teaching days, split across two semesters and four terms. Students can enter the School throughout the year as long as there is space available thanks to the Academy’s rolling admissions provision, with the Admissions Office considering applications on a first-come-first-served basis. The admissions process involves assessments appropriate for the child’s age group and informal interviews with the head of school and school counselor.
Published by Tracey Maggio