Prem Tinsulanonda International School (PTIS) Using the Compass to Support Strategic Planning

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by Karrie Dietz, 2013, while serving as Junior School Principal, PTIS, Thailand.

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Prem Tinusulanonda International School (PTIS) in Chiang Mai, Thailand, has sustainability at the core of its vision: ‘We are a caring international community living and learning together for a sustainable future.’ Prem is proud to be the first Compass School and aims to prepare students for a future of increasing cross-cultural independence, rapid technological change and critical environmental challenges. Global issues, the importance of international cooperation to address them, and knowledge of sustainability concepts are imparted through all disciplines.

Use of the Compass tool extends beyond the curriculum; the PTIS Executive Team recently used it when creating a new five-year strategic plan named ‘FuturePrem.’ This process included asking various members of the school community “What will Prem of the future be like?” It was decided Prem will be:

  • a school where Learning and the learner are central
  • a school committed to expanding Leadership
  • a school at the heart of a learning Community where sustainability matters
  • an amplified school that embraces Technology
  • a school that embraces Creativity
  • a school that is Connecting to local, regional and global networks

Each of these themes was then examined through the lenses of N = Nature (the natural systems on which all life depends), S = Society (the social and cultural systems that provide cohesion, identity, security and freedom), E = Economy (the economic systems that provide humanity with goods, services, and meaningful work), and W = Well-being (the health, happiness, and quality of life for individual people and their families), which encouraged the exploration of different viewpoints and interconnectedness.

Goals were then created and organized in a matrix organized by themes and Compass Points. For example, here is an overview of the goals for the theme ‘Learning’:

  • We take full advantage of the unique natural environment and outdoor learning spaces
  • We have systems in place to support the sustainable growth of facilities and resources for the learning programs
  • We have a flexible and expanding range of learning opportunities, accessible via a variety of media and locations, to meet students’ learning needs and to prepare them for continued learning in an increasingly complex society
  • Students make their learning visible to enrich their learning experience and to contribute to the learning of others
  • Students are principled and take their responsibility to themselves and society seriously, mindful of their actions and the possible consequences
  • Mindfulness is integrated into learning activities

Outcomes were then developed for each of the goals, again using the Compass Points as lenses for exploring multiple viewpoints. The Sustainability Compass was useful as a tool for setting direction towards living and learning more sustainably and it helped PTIS look at its community from different viewpoints in order to learn, make decisions and take action in sustainable ways.

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