Seigakuin Atlanta International School
Seigakuin Atlanta International School (聖学院アトランタ国際学校 Seigakuin Atoranta Kokusai Gakkō?, SAINTS) is an international private school located in Peachtree Corners, Georgia, northeast of Atlanta. It is an affiliate to Seigakuin University, and therefore is a Shiritsu zaigai kyōiku shisetsu (私立在外教育施設) or an overseas branch of a Japanese private school. It is one of only two schools in the United States and the only school in Greater Atlanta to have its curriculum accredited by the Japanese Ministry of Education. From its founding in 1990 until 2003, the school had been located on the property of Oglethorpe University in Brookhaven, DeKalb County. In 2003, the school moved to its current location. Since April 2008, Minako Oki Ahearn (エイハーンみな子 Eihān Minako?) has served as the principal.
The organization Seigakuin Atlanta International School, lnc. was founded in March 1990, and classes for the SAINTS school began on September 5, 1990. The school was originally located on the property of Oglethorpe University in Brookhaven in unincorporated DeKalb County, in a former public elementary school building. This facility is now occupied by PATH Academy, a charter school.
The SAINTS junior high school opened in 1993. In 1994 the Japanese Ministry of Education approved SAINTS as an overseas educational facility. In the northern hemisphere spring of 1995 the school planned to add the ninth grade, the final educational year. The school had no plans to add a high school. The school's first group of ninth graders were scheduled to graduate in 1996. Sherrell Evans of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution said that many would go on to area public and private high schools, or attend private Japanese boarding schools in New York and Tennessee (Keio Academy of New York and Tennessee Meiji Gakuin High School).
As of 2002 the school has class sizes of seven or eight students per grade. In 2002 the school announced plans to move to a property in Gwinnett County formerly owned by the First Romanian Baptist Church. The campus has a capacity of up to 110 students. Minako Ahearn, the executive board director and business manager, said that the school was more centrally located for its students. The school purchased the campus in March 2003, and the new school opened in April of that year. A new classroom building at the Gwinnett facility opened in 2007.
As of 2014, the school operates a Pre-School for children ages 3-4, a kindergarten, and an elementary school that runs through the 6th Grade.
The school accepts qualified applicants of all national origins, religions, and racial backgrounds. Around 1994 the school implemented a policy that prevented prospective applicants who are not entering at the Kindergarten level from enrolling if they do not know Japanese. During that year, Nobuaki Oda, the headmaster, said that the policy was implemented because it was too difficult for the school to teach academic subjects in a language that some students could not understand.
As of 2014 the annual tuition costs range from $7,000 to $9,000, though the school does offer scholarships
The school uses the curriculum of the Japanese Ministry of Education alongside an English language curriculum of its own. In Pre-School and kindergarten, about 90% of instruction is in Japanese. From age 5, children begin their study of English, which is significantly earlier than their peers in Japan. From elementary school, students study all of the core subjects in Japanese, using the same textbooks as their peers in Japan. As students get older, English-language instruction in these core subjects is added to the curriculum, such that students might study math in Japanese on Monday, then continue with math in English on Tuesday. Consequently, students are exposed to both American and Japanese history and literature. By the time they reach 6th Grade, about half of their instruction time is in English, with the other half remaining in Japanese.
The curriculum also has a Christian component. Kindergartners learn Bible verses in both languages, while elementary students attend a twenty-minute worship service each morning. The school also puts on a Christmas pageant each year.
As of October 2014, the school has 92 students. 52% are native Japanese speakers, 14% are native English speakers, and the remaining 34% come from bilingual households.
When the school was first founded in September 1990, it had 23 students, including 16 kindergarten students and 7 students in grades 1 through 4. In December 1990 the enrollment increased to 30 students. Around 1990, when the school was first established, most of the students were born in Japan. The parents typically resided in the United States for three to four year periods before taking themselves and their families back to Japan. Most of the parents worked for Japanese companies, and they wanted their children to easily adjust to the Japanese educational system upon their return to Japan.
In 1992 the school had 62 students, with 75% of them Japanese nationals who were scheduled to eventually come back to Japan. In 1994 the school had 75 students in grades preschool through 8. In 1994 numbers of children who were not fully Japanese were increasing. As of that year, 20% of the students were Americans with no Japanese background and Americans who each had one parent of Japanese descent. Many parents enroll the students in the school because they are interested in the Japanese educational style, which has a high international reputation, and/or because they want their children to learn about Japanese culture.
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- Seigakuin Atlanta International School
- Seigakuin Atlanta International School (Japanese)
- Seigakuin Atlanta International School (Archive)
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