Seoul International School, a major international school in Korea located in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year with a new head.
An experienced educator who has lived in diverse cultures, SIS head James Gerhard presented a multifaceted vision to maintain SIS’ reputation.
Gerhard has been in the education field for about 28 years, and has a doctorate in education. He taught high school economics and government in New York before moving on to teach American history at an international school, where he became the Near East South Asia Council of Overseas Schools representative. “This let me start managing programs and helping teachers to learn and grow professionally,” he said.
The SIS head said he greatly enjoyed advocating for schools, trying to “make each day much more than an academic experience but also full of athletics, activities, trips, and ways for students to build talent and character, not just intellect and skills.”
On his starting point as an educator, Gerhard recalled a college professor who changed his life. The professor encouraged him to attend local high schools to present a paper he had written and speak with students. “He noticed I could build student interest with my topic and knowledge,” Gerhard recalls.
After moving to the Middle East in 2000, Gerhard has lived and taught in various countries around the world, including Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. “I have loved the opportunity to combine my interests in people, places, outdoor activities and travel with a profession that allows me to be at the forefront of excellent educational programs,” he said.
With diverse experience as an enthusiastic educator, Gerhard decided to come to SIS. “I knew of the reputation of SIS and the quality of school that it represented,” he said.
“The quality of faculty was similar to the type of student at the school, high-performing and high-achieving, with a focus on strong educational outcomes. I also knew they had a very supporting and involved parent population.”
Gerhard said he would like to ensure the parents and alumni who send their children to SIS that their children will receive a high level of care and education, which include not only academic training but also experiential learning. “We continue to enrich every child’s experience, and are constantly improving our academic outcomes while at the same time providing experiences and experiential learning for students which lead to lifelong learning.”
“Parents choose schools for a variety of reasons. We are fortunate that our school meets many of those individual needs,” he said confidently. The SIS has outpaced competitors in university acceptance results and in the quality of graduating students, thanks to competent teachers and programs, according to Gerhard.
The SIS provides numerous programs that help students discover and develop their talent, character and intellect, including diverse after-school activities, counseling classes and academic programs. These eventually help students grow into not only strong university applicants, but also “smart, compassionate and well-rounded individuals.”
“We have plans to continue to make SIS a showcase school with the best facilities and exceptional academic offerings,” Gerhard said.