A series of firsts – How YCIS helps shape international education in Shanghai

This year marks the 25th anniversary celebration of Yew Chung International School of Shanghai (YCIS Shanghai) – a landmark achievement for both the school and the city. 

This year marks the 25th anniversary celebration of Yew Chung International School of Shanghai (YCIS Shanghai) — a landmark achievement for both the school and the city. Opened in 1993 as the first independent international school in Shanghai, the school has grown exponentially over the years, opening its fifth campus at the end of the last academic year.

Dr Betty Chan and Professor Paul Yip celebrate YCIS Shanghai’s 25th Anniversary with the YCIS and YWIES community.

Building on decades of history

The story of YCIS goes back to 1932 when the first Yew Chung school was established in Hong Kong by its founder, Madame Tsang Chor-hang, who oversaw the school for four decades. Then, in 1972, her daughter and now renowned pioneer in education, Dr Betty Chan Po-king, took over to continue her mother’s vision.

Pioneering international education 

In 1992, the Mayor of Shanghai, Huang Ju, invited Yew Chung to open the first privately operated international school in the city to serve the growing number of international families moving to Shanghai. A site at 11 Shuicheng Road, Gubei then became YCIS Shanghai’s very first campus, Hongqiao campus, where it still stands as a landmark today.

As the international population in Shanghai has grown over the years, so have the school’s campuses. The five YCIS Shanghai campuses are located in prime areas in both Puxi and Pudong, and collectively cater to Kindergarten, Primary and Secondary students, ages 2 to 18.

Teachers continually develop at YCIS through professional development opportunities such as the CHERI Conference.

Creating a bilingual focus

With a school philosophy that includes equipping graduates with “a deep respect for and understanding of world cultures, and mastery of Chinese and English,” the school has long had a strong commitment to building a bilingual foundation for its students. The unique YCIS co-principal and co-teaching model helps develop students’ linguistic abilities, and also provides them with the added advantage of developing an international mindset from an early age, which is something of great importance in this age of globalization. All Kindergarten and Primary classrooms at YCIS have both a fully-qualified international teacher and a fully-qualified Chinese teacher, who share the educational responsibilities for the children in their care. This model is now recognized by educators worldwide, and helps distinguish its students in a globally competitive environment.

Developing educational leaders

The school’s commitment to academic excellence is also clearly demonstrated by its support of the continual professional development of its teachers, and its implementation of its research findings. Within the Yew Chung network is the Chor-Hang Educational Research Institute (CHERI), which focuses on furthering the philosophy and objectives of YCIS and its sister school, Yew Wah International Education Schools (YWIES). In March 2018, CHERI hosted its first-ever conference on the future of teaching, with YCIS’ stated mission to pioneer educational pedagogy through the introduction of “Learning Communities” and a focus on global competencies, which is another example of YCIS as a thought-leader in education. 

Co-teachers create a bilingual environment in all YCIS Early Childhood Education and Primary classrooms.

Earning international recognition

As a result of its students’ academic achievements year-after-year, YCIS was the first school in China to receive the prestigious Cambridge Award for Excellence in Education. YCIS Shanghai’s students are consistently high achieving and have been recognized year-upon-year by Cambridge for earning “Top in World” and “Top in China” awards. 

‘LEED’ing the way

Another first for schools in Shanghai came in January 2018, when YCIS Shanghai’s newly-opened Ronghua campus was awarded the “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” (LEED) Gold certification from the US Green Building Council. “LEED for Schools” is the recognized third-party benchmark for high-performance schools that are healthy and comfortable for students, faculty, and staff, and by investing in building a LEED-certified campus, YCIS set a new standard for Early Childhood Education learning facilities.

Dr Betty Chan (left) and Madam Tsang Chor-hang stand at the original YCIS Shanghai campus building site.

Celebrating worldwide

With such a rich history, YCIS Shanghai recently celebrated its 25th anniversary and the Yew Chung organization’s 86th Founder’s Day with an event that not only commemorated its founder and history, but also included all YCIS and YWIES schools from around the world. On a day of reflecting on how far Yew Chung and Yew Wah have come over the past 86 years, and the impact of YCIS Shanghai in its first quarter of a century, Dr Chan inspired the audience with her pioneering vision and dedication to her mission of providing world-leading education, giving them an exciting look into the future of an organization that will forge ahead and continue to shape the minds of generations to come.

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