For many years now, whenever I would pass Shaw Blvd (Kapitolyo area), I’d see this building that said Reedley International. It had always piqued my curiosity, with me wondering what kind of school it was. A couple of weeks ago, I got an invite from Carlo to visit Reedley, which by this time had transferred to the Libis area.
We were briefed by Jerome T. Castro, Reedley’s Headmaster, and Emil Ong, Director of School Development. Emil is the son of Nellie Aquino-Ong who founded Reedley.
Reedley started as a review center giving personalized teaching to students wanting to enter universities. The effectiveness of Nellie Ong’s tutoring prompted some parents to tell her that she should open up a school, which she eventually did. Reedley opened as an Upper School in 2000 with 80 students. A 250% growth rate in 2001, the opening of their Grade School and Middle School levels made them move to a larger building in Pasig and eventually to their present location. Now they cater to a current level of 500 students from 19 different nationalities.
My kids all went to traditional schools. In traditional schools, everyone is expected to go at the pace of the teachers who follow a lesson plan. Class sizes even in the Nursery levels are at around 30 and this could grow to almost 40 by the time they graduate high school. Some of my kids experienced bullying in school and I know that in many traditional schools, this has grown to large proportions. Teachers have their hands full teaching several sections with over 30 students each; it is really hard for a teacher to know a student closely enough to know his/her needs and personality. Luckily, the school where my boys go adopted a mentoring system to address this lack.
Reedley emphasizes some features that make them stand out:
1. Small class sizes – Reedley’s class sizes start at 18 in Lower School, 20 in Middle School, 25 in Upper School and 8 for the Small Classroom Program (SCP), a place where students needing necessary study skills to succeed in a big classroom, are placed till their academic performance shows that they can be placed in larger class-sized levels.
2. Anti-bullying programs – Reedley is proud of the fact that they have a very strong anti-bullying program. Many schools (and parents) do not really address bullying, seeing it as something the child needs to overcome on his own, so that he learns to fend for himself and toughen up in the process. I was struck by the fact that they use Sean Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens and Happy Kids” as a TEXTBOOK! Yes, they’re really serious about teaching their students life skills.
3. Competent and caring teachers – Because of the small class size, teachers really get to know their students and get involved in their lives. They become mentors, friends and role models who always have a listening ear and a quick eye to spot. Jerome Castro put it this way — if a teacher has to consult a student directory during parent-teacher conferences to remember who the student is, most likely the teacher does not really know the child except academically.
4. International standards – Reedley has adopted the best of US curriculum for the humanities (English and Social Sciences) and for math, they adopt the best of Singapore math. Their grading system allows them to go beyond measuring student learning and focus on improving student achievement.
5. Ruler vs roadmap – Traditional schools measure results against set standards of excellence. Reedley says they are more like a roadmap, i.e. they nurture each student to reach his or her potential and aim higher with less stress through academic consultation, customized action plans addressing each child’s developmental needs, parent chats, intensive guidance counseling and review programs for college entrance tests.
A parent who was invited to join our roundtable discussion told us that she had a child who was very sensitive. Although her older kids were in a traditional school, she took a chance with this child and placed him in Reedley. She told us she never regretted her decision because her child bloomed under the care of Reedley’s teachers and staff.
Lastly, Jerome Castro debunked what he calls the myths about Reedley:
1. “Reedley is expensive” – he thinks this is relative. He cited the case of traditional schools where majority of students, even honor students, still go for tutoring after school. Factoring in what is paid for tutoring into the tuition, he thinks the total cost will approximate what Reedley charges.
2. “Reedley is a ‘Second Chance’ school” – Reedley says they believe that once a child passes a school’s admission tests, it means the child has the potential to graduate from that school. So when a child does not meet the school’s academic requirements, it should not be immediately concluded that the child is performing below par; otherwise, why would the child have been admitted in the first place. Reedley thinks that under-achievers may be coping with some personal difficulties in a large-school setting or just need personal attention which is difficult in large populations. Reedley’s admission process notes the applicants’ potential not just in academe but as an individual and they accept on the basis of these evaluations. To reinforce this, we were told that 85-90% of Reedley graduates get accepted to the country’s top 5 universities. Many graduates have also been accepted to foreign universities in the US, UK, Australia, and Singapore. That says a lot about the quality of graduates they produce.
The only thing that was missing in our roundtable meeting with Reedley that day was an actual school tour which I would have wanted in order to get a better appreciation of the culture and environment of the school as well as note their facilities.
If you’re a parent of a small child and you are looking at alternatives to traditional schools, visit Reedley and talk to their people and students. You just may find that this is the right home for your kid.
Here are some quick facts that you may be interested in:
Accreditation: Regular Member of the Council of International Schools (CIS); undergoing the
accreditation process of the Western Association of Schools & Colleges, USA (WASC).
Affiliations: East Asian Regional Council of Overseas Schools (EARCOS) Association of
Supervision and Curriculum Development USA (ASCD), Singapore Teachers Union (STU), Kagan
(USA), and The Principal’s Center – Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Curriculum: Based on the McRel program from the USA. The Science and Math programs are
derived from the Singaporean national curriculum.
Grade Levels: Lower School Grades 1 to 4, Middle School Grades 5 to 7 and Upper School I to IV
belonging to over 19 nationalities.
Class Sizes: Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten: 15-18 students, Lower School: 20-22 students,
Middle School: 22 – 25 students, Upper School: 25-28 students
Grading Period: Quarterly
Grading System: American GPA (Grade Point Average)
Student outcomes are assessed and validated through PSAT and SAT from the USA, and
International Standards Assessment (ISA) from Australia, which is used by international schools
Medium of Instruction: English
School Calendar: Opens in June and ends in March (10 months)
Enrolment Period: March to September
Aid to Second Language Learners: ESL (English as a Second Language) Program
Student to Teacher Ratio: 9 students to 1 teacher
Teaching Faculty: All from reputable local universities, licensed, and with foreign and local training
Textbooks: All imported from Singapore, USA, and UK
Student to Guidance Counsellor ratio: 80 students to 1 Guidance Counsellor
Facilities: 2 Cafeterias, Chemistry and Biology Laboratories, Lee Kwan Yew Hall, Grade School
Library, Upper School Library, IT Lab, Clinic, Student Activity Centre; P.E. classes and sports events
are held out of campus in the country’s best sports facilities such as Club 650, ULTRA Stadium, and
Valle Verde Golf and Country Club, among others.
Community Service: RSCAP (Reedley Students Community Action Program)
Reedley International is located at JOSOL Building, E. Rodriguez Jr., Ave., Libis, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines. Tel/Fax +632 571-5291. Mobile +63917 507-9306. Email <firstname.lastname@example.org>. Website <www.reedleyschool.com>