Despite it being her first day in a new school, Natsumi Mizobuchi felt like she had always been part of the GESS family. The Mizobuchis explains why…
Natsumi Mizobuchi couldn’t physically attend her new school at GESS until a later date due to Covid-19 restrictions. Despite that, she started her first day as if she had always been a part of the GESS family – meeting friends at the school gates and finding her way around the school easily. According to Natsumi and her parents, this was all thanks to the caring teachers and attentive staff at the school. HoneyKids spoke to the Mizobuchis to find out more…
Hello Tateki and Chika! Can you tell us more about Natsumi’s first day at GESS?
GESS has a unique system called “Student Buddy”, where each new student has their own designated buddy friend. Before physically attending the school, Natsumi was exchanging e-mails with her buddy, and her buddy welcomed her at the school entrance on the very first day at GESS campus to help her feel welcome!
She also connected with other students through her buddy and became friends with them on the first day of school. All the female students in Natsumi’s homeroom gathered around her and introduced themselves, and then introduced their friends in other classes to her during lunch break. They also gave her stories and information about things happening at school, or what school life is like, guided her to the next classroom, and even to the bus stop to go home. They also helped her catch up on what she missed during her quarantine.
That’s so sweet! What was it that led you to consider GESS in the first place?
Firstly, Natsumi wished to continue her studies in an English-speaking environment, hence opting for an international school was our priority. It was also preferable that the school would have a diverse group of students with a good mix of nationalities, so she can learn more about other cultures. Academic performance is important, but a balance with other pursuits such as co-curricular activities (CCAs), including sports, is also important. Lastly, having a school environment that is welcoming, inclusive, collaborative, supportive, and enjoyable is also essential for a sustainable school life that we want for Natsumi. These all led us to check out GESS.
From the first virtual meeting, GESS guided us in understanding what would be the best path for Natsumi in achieving a diploma in Grade 12. Despite her challenges with English, GESS took the time to assess her unique position and individual potential. Natsumi has also been consulted on a one-to-one basis, both by teachers and the Director of High School (IB) Ms. Dicken, to see how she is progressing with her English and what options she has.
How are the facilities at GESS?
The school library is very comprehensive. There are plenty of sofas and private rooms where Natsumi spends time after school. The librarian also helps her to find the books and resources that she is looking for.
The laboratories are equipped with the latest facilities, including 3D printers and laser cutters, which make experiments and activities fun and interesting.
And does the school have a community for parents?
It has parent WhatsApp groups to keep parents of students from the same class connected. The school also has a Parent Representative for each class who engages directly with the school and we find this approach really efficient. There were also webinars and meetings for new families held at the beginning of the school year which we found very helpful.
We’re guessing Natsumi really enjoys attending GESS. What are some of her favourite aspects of it?
She enjoys the school atmosphere and how the students and teachers have a close relationship. Students are able to consult teachers on any issue, whether big or small. The curriculums are also well thought through and very interesting, so Natsumi enjoys it even if at times it may be challenging.
Sounds great! Finally, do you have any advice for parents who are in the process of picking a school for their child?
Covid-19 has made the process of selecting a school more challenging, especially if you’re doing so from overseas, as it isn’t possible to physically visit campuses or attend open house events in person. There are many international schools with their own education philosophies and values. It is necessary to narrow down your priorities and focus on what is the most important for your child’s education or life, and whether the school offers what your child wishes to do, etc. It is also important to trust the sense you get when communicating directly with the school, as information you gather on the internet is only one point of view, and sometimes some parents may have different feedback as well.
Thank you Tateki and Chika!
This post is in partnership with the GESS