Wednesday, September 26, 2012
I received a warm welcome at The American School in Switzerland (TASIS), except that it was located in the village of Thorpe in County Surrey, about 45 minutes north of the city centre of London. This international school in England (TASIS, England) was the vision, as was the founding school in Switzerland, of an international educational pioneer, Mary Crist Fleming. TASIS England began in 1976, twenty years later after the founding of TASIS Switzerland in 1956. TASIS England has less than 800 students from nursery school to the 12th grade. Those students, however, come from over 40 countries. Sam Stover, Assistant Director of Admissions, formerly of Chattanooga Tennessee, travels the world looking for students to enroll in TASIS England. Anna Wright, College Counselor, makes sure that they enter strong college environments that match their outstanding primary and secondary educational experience. Sam states that on any given day he hears Swahili, Mandarin, French, Italian, including English, spoken in the library or school hallways. Curricular offerings also provide a great deal of variety. Advanced Placement (AP) as well as International Baccalaureate (IB) are offerred. A third curriculum is emerging with the increase of international students--international curriculum with heavy focus on ESL.
My visit had also a personal mission. I wanted to say thank you to the Department of Art for their influence on Allison Perkins, who holds our lovely WFU Reynolda House of American Art in her tender hands and leads that work so that we all may know beauty. I wanted to see where Allison had been so inspired to spend her life creating and showcasing art for others. We at Wake Forest University are certainly the beneficiaries of TASIS who provided the experiences so that Allison could lead us to understand beauty here at Wake Forest University. I wanted to say thank you personally to those teachers.
I visited the art department where artist in residence Annabelle Ford was leading a master class. As mother of a soldier in Afghanistan, she had chosen to paint out her sorrow and fear of watching her son go to war and in turn to try to understand her son's desire to be a soldier (http://aestudioonline.com). As she said, "I decided to paint myself out of trouble." Our Allison was formed by this school who featured this department who have been connecting art and life for decades now in this lovely ancient setting in the village of Thorpe, in the county of Surrey, England. Just as beauty knows no bounds . . . . . so international education.