Dalat International School

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Dalat International School
Tanjung Bunga
Penang, 11200
Type Private International School
Day & Boarding School
Motto Education for Life
Religious affiliation(s) Christian
Established 1929
Director Karl Steinkamp
Principal Heather Fischer (K-4)
Shawna Wood (5-8)
Brian Brewster (9-12)
Faculty 70~
Grades PS-12
Gender Coeducational
Enrollment 520 approx.
Campus Suburban (beachside)
Color(s) Blue and Gold
Athletics conference MSSPP
Mascot Eagle
Accreditation ACSI
Yearbook Reflector
Affiliations EARCOS
C&MA (historical)
Athletic Director Chance Edman

Dalat International School is an international day and boarding school in Penang, Malaysia. Originally founded as a boarding school for children of missionaries serving in Southeast Asia, it has grown into an international school with a diverse student population. As of the beginning of the 2010-11 school year, there are 460 students representing 27 different countries. It is one of six international schools on the island and is the only one offering an American curriculum.


Dalat School was founded in 1929 as a private Christian boarding school in Dalat, Vietnam to provide a North American elementary and high school education for children of Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) missionaries in Indo-China. In 1962, Reverend Archie E. Mitchell, who was on staff at the school with his wife Betty, was abducted by Viet Cong guerrillas.[1] As the Vietnam War escalated, in 1965, the teachers and staff were evacuated by the USAF to a temporary location in Bangkok, Thailand.[2] Eight months later, the school relocated to Tanah Rata in the Cameron Highlands of Malaysia where it remained for six years.[citation needed]

During the late 1960s, the British forces based in Penang were withdrawing from the peninsula after the conclusion of the Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation and school administrators were looking for a new location at that time. In June 1971, Dalat moved into the former British R&R facility known as "Sandycroft" along the beaches of Tanjung Bunga in Penang, Malaysia where it has been ever since. Despite some renovations and additions to the buildings, the initial architecture and layout of the property remains largely unchanged since the school moved in.[3]

In 1999, the C&MA, who had been running the school since its establishment, announced that Dalat School would be closed the following year after it was decided it was no longer feasible to run a school in Malaysia. A number of local expat families approached the school leadership and asked if they would consider keeping the school going as an independent school. After a bit of study of the community it was determined that the school would continue operating and would open its doors to the growing expat business community in Penang. The word "international" was added into the name in 2002 to reflect its student body. Although no longer run by the C&MA, Dalat continues many traditions of their Christian heritage and still caters to children of C&MA missionaries. It is now governed by an inter-denominational school board.

The sea wall was damaged during the tsunami in 2004.[4]


Dalat is divided into three sections – Elementary School (PS-4), Middle School (5-8) and High School (9-12) – and each has its own principal, who report to the director.


Dalat still serves its purpose of educating "MKs" and the North American expatriate community but has since opened its doors to all students regardless of nationality who meet the admissions criteria. Priority, in terms of financial aid, is still given to students whose parents work for Christian organisations.


Dalat International School uses United States standards of education that have been compiled by two organizations: 1. McREL Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks and; 2. the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) for K-12 education. Dalat also uses Expected School-wide Learning Results (ESLRs) employing teaching methods that focus on cooperative learning and activity-based content learning.

As a Christian school, Dalat requires students to take Bible classes and attend chapel. Prayer, Bible study and actively living out the Christian life are key values. Student-led prayer meetings are held every Wednesday night with student-led worship services taking place throughout the school year. Chapel services are held weekly and Spiritual Emphasis Week and Missions Emphasis Week are special events each year.

Advanced Placement (AP) courses are offered for students wishing to earn college credit. English literature and language, psychology, Chinese language, art, music theory, environmental science and calculus are offered while other AP courses are made available through distance learning.

DIScovery program[edit]

Dalat offers an overseas study exchange program called DIScovery for foreign students to enjoy the "Asian experience". DIScovery students will take part in all school activities and receive all the privileges of being a Dalat student. In addition, they will take part in planned cultural outreach and exposure trips to nearby countries and other regions of Malaysia. The purpose is to let students see the peoples, cultures and social needs around them. These trips may include visits to missionaries working in the field, meeting needs in the local community, and helping a country school or providing food and basic resources to a deprived area.[5]

Extra-curricular activities[edit]

For students who do not wish to take part in team sports, activities such as computer skills, photography, origami, knitting and language skills are offered at the end of the school day during "P Period". Students are required to participate in these activities as part of Dalat's holistic educational program.


Dalat's sports teams are known as the Eagles and compete in the Penang Schools State Competition (Malay: Majlis Sukan Sekolah Pulau Pinang, abbrev. MSSPP), Penang Island division. Team sports offered are soccer (football), basketball, volleyball, and softball. Individual sports offered are swimming and track and field. There are varsity (under 18) and junior varsity (under 16) teams in each sport. The varsity boys' basketball team won the state championship in 2002, 2006, 2011 and 2012. The varsity girls basketball team won the state championship in 2012 and students participating in individual sports have broken a number of state records and regularly win medals. Floorball is a popular non-varsity sport.


Since its foundation, the school has a boarding tradition which continues to this day, despite the fact that most of the current student population are day students. The boarding programme mainly serves North American missionary and expatriate families based in Southeast Asia but is open to all students based on the availability of space.

The students are housed in mixed-gender, mixed-age dorms with "dorm parents" who live in the building itself with their families to create a family-like environment. They are looked after by residence supervisors, a nurse and dorm assistants, all of whom reside on campus.[6]

There are four dorms: Chandler, Jackson, Jaffray and Ziemer.[7] Previously there were two more dorms, Eckmann and Smith, but one is no longer in use while the other was converted into classrooms to house the expanding elementary school.


  1. ^ Boese, Joy (2005). Adventures in Learning to Trust God. Infinity Publishing. pp. 21–22. ISBN 9780741424662. 
  2. ^ Stemple, Charlotte (2010). My Vietnam. Xulon Press. p. 260. ISBN 9781609578145. 
  3. ^ History
  4. ^ Demaria, Andrew (2004-12-30). "Web postings give helping hand". CNN. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  5. ^ "Dalat DIScovery". 
  6. ^ Boarding
  7. ^ Dorm Facilities
  • Fitzstevens, John A. (1966). The History of Dalat School, Dalat, Viet Nam. 

External links[edit]