At the junction of Yishun Ave 1 and Yishun Ave 6, a new world is rising on a 5ha plot. It is the Singapore campus of the GEMS World Academy (GWA) which will throw open its doors to students in September this year. To begin with, students from Pre-K to Grade 8 will be admitted to the International Baccalaureate programme.
Spearheading the launch of the school is American Daniel E. Young. Dan, as he is popularly known, is the Founding Head of School and a director of GEMS World Academies. The Singapore school is part of GEMS Education's global network of international schools, headquartered in Dubai.
Sitting in his office at the Forum in Orchard Road, Mr Young gave tabla! an overview of what the school will offer. Some of the highlights include daily Mandarin lessons from Pre-K to K2. From Grade 1 onwards there is an option of Mandarin, Spanish or English as an additional language.
Every student from Grade 1 to 5 will be provided with a violin or cello. This is to provide all students with the opportunity to explore and excel their creative abilities.
Students will also be issued smart cards. These cards can be used for boarding the school bus, accessing certain areas like the library on campus and also for buying food from the cafeteria.
The school will have an IMAX-type theatre. According to Mr Young, the theatre is a US$1.5 million project and he believes that it is a great tool to develop young minds. He said children can experience a visit to the ancient tombs of Egypt, learn more about the stars and the sky, and various national galleries during their visits to the theatre.
"What children see and hear increases their retention than just reading it from a book. A film about space also teaches you humility by showing how small you are in the universe," said Mr Young, who holds a Master of Science degree in Education from Northern Arizona University, US.
Mr Young comes with a wealth of experience, having worked 28 years in the US and then in China and Saudi Arabia before joining the GEMS group in Dubai. He has worked in both the American International School in Riyadh and the Shanghai American School in Pudong, where he served as principal.
His interest in special education came about when he took an education psychology class in college. One of his professors assigned him to work with a group of pre-school Down's Syndrome children.