It seems like yesterday that I was talking to Patrick Newell about his dream of opening a new international school in Tokyo. His goal was to expand his preschool Children’s House into an elementary school. Actually, that conversation took place just about two years ago, and starting in September 1997, Patrick’s dream became a reality. Tokyo International School opened its doors to 12 students in kindergarten; as of this month, the new elementary school building will open just blocks away from the preschool in Meguro.
Patrick and his wife Ikuko are the founders not only of TIS and Children’s House, but also of International School Support Services which has been supporting international families since 1991. The Newells are the parents of two young daughters and their forays into the field of education were initially fueled by their desire to provide an ideal education for their own children.
When his daughters became school age, Patrick considered sending them to the Japanese public schools so that they would learn the language and culture. Ikuko, who had been educated in Japan, felt that a more free-spirited environment would better suit the girls. However, after looking at several international schools in Tokyo, the Newells realized that the tuition was more than they could afford. One goal of TIS is to keep tuition costs reasonable; the current fee is ¥1 million a year, including taxes and field trips, about 55-65 percent of other international schools.
TIS strives to create a balanced atmosphere in which children can develop confidence, self-awareness and the ability to set goals and achieve them. By establishing trust and security, clear behavior patterns and high academic standards, Patrick feels that TIS can best develop the individual abilities of each student.
Children are taught mainly through a theme approach which integrates all subject areas and focuses on all the skills and areas of child development. Highly qualified, caring teachers use open-ended activities as much as possible which allow the students to build on their strengths and maximize their potential.
There is a strong concentration on language arts and mathematics. Art, music and drama are taught through a program entitled “Education through Music.” For physical education, TIS takes advantage of its location near two large parks and a sports arena. There is also an outdoor play area on the premises which features a jungle gym and other play equipment.
TIS has a maximum ratio of one teacher to every 10 students. While the curriculum is English-based, the school offers ESL, JSL and JFL programs. Students enrolling in TIS must have at least one English-speaking parent. The student body is currently made up of students from the U.S., Canada, Japan, Denmark, Malaysia and South Korea.
Unlike most international schools that run from late August to early June, TIS begins classes in September and ends in mid-July. The school has a longer third term, but two weeks off for winter vacation and one week off for spring.
Tokyo International School will add 1st and 2nd grades for the 1998/1999 school year and hopes to continue adding grades as students move up. The completion of the new building on Apr. 6 offers the kind of space that the Newells need for their ambitious and innovative plans.
If you would like more information about Tokyo’s newest international school, contact Patrick Newell at 3710-1160. The address of Children’s House Preschool is 5-12-2 Shimo Meguro, and TIS is located at 3-18-16 Meguro Honcho, both in Meguro-ku. Applications are currently being accepted for children ages 2 1/2 through 2nd grade.