Is GSIS a Christian School? Why is this important?
Yes. Gyeonggi Suwon International School (GSIS) is a school with a Christian philosophy. The school is not affiliated with a particular Christian group. The school highly desires students and families from other faiths and from homes where religion is not practiced. GSIS bases its philosophy on basic Christian beliefs and a Christian philosophy of education that involves presenting the “truth” that can sustain and bring meaning to students’ lives. Secondly, it engages the student to consider his/her spirituality. The board of trustees expects that graduating students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the major spiritual world views; understand and be able to articulate an historical, biblically-based Christian world view; and be able to explain if God has any impact in their lives. A student will be taught to recognize that he/she is made in the image of God and that he/she should foster self-respect and self-worth as well as respect and esteem for others. GSIS strives to provide the kind of environment in which each student’s unique gifts of intellect, personality, stature, and spirit are given the best opportunities for development toward maturity. The school understands that not all students are Christians or will become Christians while attending, but an exploration of their faith and belief system will be encouraged.
Is GSIS accredited and certified? Why is this important?
Yes. GSIS is a fully accredited institution with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) which is an accrediting commission for schools in the states of California and Hawaii, as well as international schools like ours in the East/Pacific region. WASC accreditation is important because it ensures that a school is continually reviewing its curriculum, policies, programs, personnel, and finances so standards are maintained and improved upon to create a school of excellence and one that is driven by student learning. Second, WASC accreditation ensures that your child is able to enter U.S. schools including colleges and universities and that course credits earned at GSIS are accepted by those institutions. Furthermore, GSIS is also a member of KAIAC (Korea-American Interscholastic Activities Conference); EARCOS (East Asia Regional Council of Overseas Schools); KORCOS (Korea Regional Conference of Overseas Schools) ; and ACSI (the Association of Christian Schools International); The College Board (PSAT, SAT, AP programs);and The International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO). As an IB World School, GSIS offers the IB Diploma Program(DP), the Middle Years Program (MYP) and the IB Primary Years Program (PYP). Furthermore, GSIS is certified by the Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Education. This certification status is important because it provides a legal status in Korea thereby providing our Korean parents with income tax waivers and permits Korean male students to remain in school regardless of age and delays Korean military conscription.
Is GSIS an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School? What does this mean? Why is this important?
Yes. GSIS is one of the first schools in South Korea authorized to offer the full IB programme. GSIS offers the Diploma Program for the high school (11th-12th grade). We are also authorized with IBO in the Primary Years Program (PYP) for elementary school (pre-Kindergarten-5th grade) and the Middle Years Program (MYP). The IB Program is offered in only 1,300 schools world-wide. The IB Diploma Program is a demanding pre-university course of study for highly motivated 11th and 12th graders. An IB diploma is received upon the successful completion of course work, examinations, and other requirements. The program has earned a reputation for rigorous assessment, giving IB diploma holders access to the world’s leading universities. The IB Diploma students are well prepared for university work. The program is a comprehensive two-year international curriculum that permits students to fulfill the requirements of their national systems. The program incorporates the best elements of national systems, without being based on any one in particular. Internationally mobile students are able to transfer from one IB school to another, while students who remain closer to home benefit from a highly respected international curriculum.
What is the ethnic mix at GSIS?
Presently GSIS is 48% Korean and 52% non-Korean. In addition, GSIS is 70% ethnically Korean. The vast majority of the ethnically Korean students were born and raised in a bilingual environment outside of Korea with English being their primary language for academics. These students are also primarily Korean-American or Korean-Canadian. The 52% non-Korean students and the 20% non-Asian students at GSIS come from over 15 other nations.
What are the school’s beginning and ending dates and school hours?
The GSIS school year is 180 instructional days, begins mid-August and ends in early June. Classes begin at 8:00 A.M. and end at 3:10 P.M. for high school and middle school students, and 8:00 A.M. - 3:05 P.M. for elementary school students, Monday through Friday.
What holidays does GSIS take?
GSIS observes some traditional Korean and international holidays. The school takes three-to-five-day Chuseok and Lunar New Year holidays. It also takes a three-week Christmas-Semester break. Several half-days are taken throughout the school year for teacher professional development or in-service days.
Where do GSIS students go after graduation?
Most of GSIS graduates will pursue a college education and be accepted at some of the most prestigious institutions of higher education in the U.S., Canada, and Korea. At college fair field trips to Seoul and at university visits to our campus, GSIS students have the opportunity to meet and interview with college representatives. Our matriculation list can be found here.
What is the school’s enrollment? What are the class sizes?
For 2014-2015 we have total enrollment of 520 students. There is one class each for pre-school, kindergarten, with two classes in grades 1 through 5. There is a cap of 16 students in pre-school, 20 in kindergarten through grade 5. A full-time teacher assistant is provided in pre-school, kindergarten, grades 1 and 2. Secondary school class size cap for mainstream classes is 24 students except for physical education classes. ESL classes are capped at 18 students. However, most classes are well below cap level throughout the school. GSIS reserves the option to exceed its stated cap in any class if it is deemed necessary by the administration.
Does GSIS have an ESL Program?
Yes. The school has an ESL program for elementary, middle school students. GSIS has a trained ESL staff that provides content-based ESL and sheltered instruction courses. The program’s goal is to exit transition students to mainstream classes as soon as they meet the required proficiency criteria. As a general rule, the school does not accept more than 30% of its current enrollment as ESL students. Beginning level ESL students are normally not accepted beyond 7th grade.
Are there services available for Special Needs students?
Yes. Special needs services are available at GSIS; however, the severe or profound most likely cannot be served at GSIS. The program tries to implement an inclusion model if at all possible. Staff certifications are in special education and ESL K-12 and include expertise in reading disabilities and dyslexia. GSIS is handicapped-accessible with ramps, elevator access to all floors, and handicapped accessible restrooms.
Where do most of the GSIS teachers come from?
Over 85% of GSIS full-time teachers and residence staff are overseas hire and hold a foreign passport. They are all professing Christians of various denominations who were primarily hired at overseas job fairs. They are certified or credentialed and are experienced teachers from the United States, Canada, India, New Zealand, and Australia. Many GSIS teachers have graduate level degrees of Master’s or higher.
Does GSIS have a cafeteria and lunch program?
Yes. The school has an experienced and skilled food preparation staff that offers both Korean and Western lunches for all students and breakfast and dinner for the boarding students. The dining hall is professionally managed. GSIS expects all students to purchase the school lunches.
Does GSIS require uniforms?
No. Uniforms are not required for regular academic classes. Middle school students, however, are expected to bring suitable clothing for physical education classes. Some science classes will also require students to wear laboratory coats provided for their protection. Student athletes who join middle school intramural teams must wear school-provided or team-purchased uniforms.
What kind of co-curricular activities are offered to GSIS students?
What opportunities are there for parent involvement?
Thank you for asking! There are a number of ways GSIS parents can become involved in the school. First, on numerous occasions throughout the school year parents are invited or highly encouraged to visit the school. These include Open House, PTA meetings, concerts, drama performances, sports events, parent-teacher conferences, Headmaster’s Coffees, and our International Festival. We have an active PTA that offers many additional opportunities to be involved including volunteer room mothers, library aides, lunch duty helpers, teacher aides, Christmas bazaar assistants, Teacher Appreciation Day food providers, International Festival coordinators, and fund-raisers.
Do I have to buy a laptop for my student through GSIS?
Yes, All new students are required to buy Apple laptops through the GSIS purchase program. Although Apple computers are accessible in stores open to the public, GSIS is able to get discounted computers for students. Purchases through the school are also provided on-site service and additional warranty and service support. It also makes sure that students are eligible to receive applicable school software on their laptop without additional fees. The school laptops allow students to have the technology tools to support their academic learning in the most productive ways. The school does not make any profit on the laptops sold.