When Jan-Mark Seewald began his role as Assistant Head of School for Academics, he aspired to strengthen SFS’ role as a center for teaching and learning excellence. “We were already achieving success in the classroom,” shares Jan-Mark, “but with the history, talent, and resources available here, we questioned how we could expand our reach to other members of our community. And how we could share the amazing things happening on campus with the world.” In conversations with his assistant, Hannah Kim, and with Aaron Moniz, co-founder of SFS partner organization Inspire Citizens, Jan-Mark found two passionate allies. The three enthusiastically brainstormed how they could increase professional development offerings for educators, student events, create learning opportunities for parents, and service-learning activities for the entire community.
And then COVID-19 arrived. “Prior to the pandemic, we were constantly adding to our professional development opportunities for staff,” says Hannah. “We were hosting some kind of activity most weekends but that all came to a grinding halt. In a way, though, it was a blessing. This pause allowed us to evaluate and reimagine our offerings and has motivated us to engage with the community even more.”
The Gate intends to exemplify our school’s mission in action. “Through the curriculum, we encourage students to pursue academic and creative excellence, and to be dedicated to the service of others. The Gate will ensure that the school as an institution will also be committed to these ideals,” shares Aaron. And what does the branding of “The Gate” represent? “We view the collection of offerings as a “gateway” to valuable resources for all members of our community, as well as other educators in our region.” Hannah adds, “we also are being very intentional about representing our host country of Korea and connecting with the culture here. The Korean Gate image reminds us of our home on campus and in Seoul, as well as representing the open door of teaching and learning for all.”
In addition to existing professional development opportunities, several pilot programs are already underway for The Gate. These include Korean language classes for faculty and staff, an immersive IBDP experience for parents, and student leadership training for High School students. The team is focusing on internal programming right now with the hope to build and reach audiences external to SFS next academic year. They aspire for The Gate’s activities to create a current of connection and excitement in the wider community outside of SFS. According to Jan-Mark, “even if only one student, family, or teacher decides to join our Seoul Foreign School community because of an experience they had through The Gate, I would see that as a great success.”
If you feel inspired to serve Seoul Foreign School by linking your talents and skills to existing needs in the community, The Gate team wants to hear from you. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with ideas, questions, and feedback. For more information, please visit The Gate website by scanning the QR code on the right.