No Borders – A Great International School With Global Programs

Nowadays there is more and more choice for childhood education in an English-language environment. Some parents want to instill English in their child early so that they have a better chance at mastering the language.

Others intend for their child to complete their education in English before university.
But how to choose which pre-school or kindergarten to send your child to? With so many choices it can be a difficult decision.

We spoke with Kenn Gale of No Border’s International School to find out more about his school, which is a member of the Tokai International School Association.

Tell me a bit about No Borders. What is its mission?
That is a great question, but one that has morphed over the years. Originally, we set out 20 years ago to be a great school by getting great results for our students. However, I realized that by focusing on the end result from my perspective was impossible to ensure that.

Let me explain a little further.

There were too many processes and people between me and us being a great school for our students. So, we began focusing on the teachers and turning our attention to them.

Therefore, by providing a good, and hopefully great, work environment for our teachers, they would be happy and have job satisfaction and thereby would produce better results for the students.

What ages of children attend your school?
We have a few divisions. Our International Preschool starts at 12 months and goes through 3 years old.
Then we have our International Kindergarten division which is for 3 to 5 year olds.
Those are both full-time programs. We also have a strong after school program that covers Kinder thru elementary.

How many locations do you have and where are they?
We currently have 6 locations located throughout Aichi. Our newest one is in Toyota, which will open this March!

What about the teaching staff, what do you look for in a teacher?
At this age range, of younger learners, I follow the philosophy of “hire the character, and train the talent”. We have a solid curriculum designed by experienced professionals. We also have professional training sessions throughout the year from speakers from all over Japan, as well as in-house workshops given by our teachers.
So, we look for good people, who love children and are passionate about helping. Teamwork and flexibility are highly desirable.

Of course, we always try to hire teachers with at least a few years of teaching experience. But at the end of the day, No Borders is all about ‘heart’… so that is the main thing I look for aside from basic requirements.

How many students are in a typical class?
Preschool and Kinder courses we average about 15 students per class with 2 teachers in the Kinder course and up to 4 teachers in the preschool class. For our after-school programs, we average 8-10 students per class.

What is typical day at No Borders like?
Exciting with a hint of fun, a dash of crazy, and teaspoon of busy! We teach kids, so what do you expect!

What special events and activities do you offer?
That’s a long answer… We do a couple of major plays every year at local theaters for our kinder department, sports day is huge, we have several field trips, many events and luncheons with parents. As far as activities, we have karate classes, piano, dance, ballet, swimming, an annual Hawaii trip for two weeks in July which is very popular and I am very excited to add this year we have a contract with U.S Space and Rocket Center in America, to send No Borders to a private Space Camp for 6 days with families! No Borders always has something going on!

Your school is part of the Tokai International School Association. How does that tie in with your mission as a school?
TISA is a new organization that we are proud to be part of and one of the original founding members.
Along with many other amazing schools in the area, we are able to share from and learn from each other and help promote the educational system in Nagoya and set a high standard for local schools.
When a parent sends their child to your school what is the most common feedback you get from them?
We are, of course, not perfect and learning and growing daily but parents seem to be very happy with us. We have a tight connection with our families and have are very communicative, which is why parents and teachers are all together as part of the school community.

Where is the school going? Do you aim to grow it and if so how?
We have plans to grow, but it is based on the needs of the families in the areas we serve. We are not a huge corporation that wants to open small schools on every corner, but where there is a need, we would like to be there offering the same high level education as we do at our other schools.
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