An exciting partnership

Gifted kids in South Korea
experience Seabury-style learning

After nearly three years of work, planning and pilot tests, the new Seabury School Gifted Program  launched at many of Korea POLY School's magnet campuses around Korea.

Head of School Sandy Wollum and Director of Studies Tiffany Price spent four days in and around Seoul, South Korea, as part of Seabury's partnership with KPS.

The Seabury School Gifted Program, which focuses on critical and analytical thinking, creativity and problem-solving, was developed by Seabury teachers and is based on Seabury curriculum. Students at Korea POLY School's advanced Magnet program had the opportunity to enroll in the Seabury program as a supplement to their English language instruction at POLY.

The Seabury duo spent their trip to Korea observing the program in classrooms, working with KPS staff on further program development and training teachers. "We are extremely excited to see our program extend into Korea, giving students on the other side of the Pacific the chance to see what Seabury-style gifted education is all about," Sandi Wollum says.

Seabury teachers and Tiffany Price are working on a second set of curriculum units for POLY.

In the beginning

In the early stages of the partnership, five Seabury teachers traveled to Seoul during a summer participating in a pilot project to teach units selected from Seabury's curriculum to selected students in Korea Poly's intensive summer program.

The goal of the pilot was to determine how top KPS students respond to a North American style gifted program that emphasized integrated curriculum, problem solving, and creative, critical and analytical thinking.

Head of School Sandi Wollum and the team of teachers also attended a Korea Poly Schools conference. During that trip they observed classes of gifted students and "returnee" students, those who had studied for at least a year in an English-speaking country.

The teachers directly taught the pilot units and presented them as they would for Seabury students. The goal was to see how Korean students did with a Seabury unit in its pure form in order to gather information that could be used to determine how future units might need to be customized.

Here's an excerpt from our Seabury in Seoul blog.

Students in Mrs. Price’s class had a chance to dig for artifacts today. Students came into the classroom amazed at the big tub of sand!
They couldn’t wait to get started, but first, Mrs. Price explained that archaeologists must be very systematic, so students broke the tub into evenly measured squares.

Using paintbrushes, they then carefully uncovered artifacts found under the sand. It was amazing to notice that some fragments were big, some were small and some looked like pieces of a puzzle.

"We feel honored to get to bring Seabury-style gifted education to Asia," Wollum says. We're excited to see what opportunities this pilot program opens up for partnership with KPS that will benefit our students and program."

All classes included:

  • Activities and experiences across the curriculum – including math, art, social studies and the sciences.
  • A focus on reading, writing, and speaking English, using the topics being studied to expand students’ vocabulary.
  • Hands-on exploration – Seabury learning is active learning with lots to touch, experience and create. A focus on critical and analytical reasoning – questions such as, “Why is that so …?” or “How might it be different if ...?” encourage students to go beyond simple memorization and begin to apply what is learned.
  • Open-ended activities that allow students to follow their interests and ask their own questions for study. Seabury teachers are experts at adapting curriculum to the interests and expertise of their students, adjusting activities to keep students challenged and engaged.
  • Research activities that encourage students to dig deeply into the subject they are studying.
  • Projects that allow students to showcase what they have learned.
  • Final presentations of student projects that provide students with public speaking experience in English, as well as an opportunity to share their projects with others.
The units the Seabury teachers took to Korea included animal adaptations; how the earth transforms; and culture and civilization. The teachers reported that it was a great experience for them and the students.

"We all believe that we can see many 'Seabury kids' in the students we are working with," wrote Tiffany Price, Seabury fourth grade teacher (now assistant head of school) who spent four weeks in Seoul. "At first it was hard for many of them to understand that they can talk and have fun while here, but I think all of us are seeing kids open up and come out of their shells. They are all enjoying the activities we are doing, and we are looking forward to seeing their final projects."

In February 2015, Head of School Sandi Wollum and Board of Trustees President Diane Tilstra were invited by Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland to present to the Mayor’s Commission on International Relations. The mayor convened the committee to help develop a unified strategy for developing Tacoma’s international relations in education, the arts, business and more.

Seabury was invited to share its work with both the EdKorUS exchange student program and the partnership currently in development with Korea Poly Schools. Diane and Sandi shared our experiences with Korean exchange students from EdKorUS and also the experience Seabury’s teachers had bringing Seabury’s program to Korean students in the Korea Poly School summer pilot project.

The committee heard about plans to expand on this pilot project in order to both bring Seabury’s unique approach to gifted education to students in Asia, provide cultural and possibly travel learning experiences to our students and faculty, and bring resources to Seabury that will enhance current programs and facilities for Seabury’s students.

The mayor and members of the committee commended Seabury for its innovative work, which is benefitting both Seabury and our community, and asked that Seabury keep them informed.

Sign In

Sign In Forgot your password?