As Amsterdam continues to attract families from all over the world to join its easygoing but undeniable bustle, international schools are needed to meet the growing demand for quality and cost-effective learning. Mary Petiet visited Amity International School Amsterdam to learn about one of the newest international schools in the city.
Imagination, Challenge, Action, and Determination
These are the tenets of Amity, Amsterdam’s new international school. A place of friendship, peace, and international cooperation, students from across the globe come together as one. An International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme Candidate School*, Amity offers education to children from the age of 3 up until 12. Throughout this programme, Amity focuses on teaching students to think critically and independently, and to inquire with care and logic. Amity is still a growing school; its student population has increased from 2 to 110 in its first year of operation. Students are mostly from outside The Netherlands with a sprinkling of international Dutch speakers. As Amity’s growth continues, spaces are now available for children aged between 3 and 12. Additionally, the school is expanding further to accommodate students up to age 14 and will add a higher year each year as it grows.
A World-Wide Educational Non-profit
Amity’s mission is to make a difference through education and learning. Principal David Porritt describes Amity’s education as one-size-fits-one-student. “Each young person is known as an individual. That’s what we thrive on. It’s about the young people, it’s their school, it’s evolving, and it’s designed to enable them to flourish and be their best. We’re here to provide a great education for international students to go on to make the world a better place,” he explained.
Amity is an expanding worldwide education foundation present in the Netherlands at the request of the Dutch government to meet the needs of international families. The school expects an increase in inquiries from new residents as Brexit moves forward. Currently, in the candidate stage, the school should be IB certified in the next year. “IB is a high level of education, and it is an added value to the school. It is recognised worldwide at other IB schools to ensure continuity for international families,” Amity’s Marketing and Communications Officer Judith Meijer explained.
“We challenge students to stretch their understanding and give them the tools to succeed,” ~ David Porritt, Principal
Over 30 Nationalities Learning Together
Students of over 30 nationalities join together at Amity in lessons described by Judith as creative inquiry-based. “Different subjects are explored through units of inquiry, and during the unit of inquiry, students dive into a subject from different perspectives. Different years collaborate on inquiries, as teamwork and collaboration are stressed, and programs are tailored to student interest. Students learn at their own pace and in their own ways,” she said.
Amity is equipped with a special-needs teacher to provide extra help and support as needed and offers English as a second language for students whose mother tongue is not English. “We challenge students to stretch their understanding and give them the tools to succeed,” said David.
A Strong Sense of Community With a Global Outlook
Amity is nestled among green space in Amstelveen in a monumental building which formerly served as the headquarters of an oil company. Modern, bright, and spacious, the H-shaped structure has been refurbished for students. Clearly designed to bring people together, the primary school occupies the right side of the structure and the secondary school, the left. “There is a community feeling within the school, a feeling of home away from home. It’s a very welcoming environment. It’s small, which is an advantage as we know every student by name,” said Judith. A walk through the school reveals uniformed children and cheerful classrooms, including French, Dutch, Music, and an indoor gym. Children are encouraged to go outside, and there is an outdoor playground for younger students designed by teachers and PE teachers, while older children can go to a gym off-site, and are able to achieve their swimming diplomas through the school’s swimming program.
“There is a community feeling within the school, a feeling of home away from home” ~ Judith Meijer
Amity also has a strong sense of parental involvement. At the time of writing, parents were busy decorating the well-stocked school library for a Harry Potter book night. One mother, Teresa Piacenza, is from Argentina and has had kids at Amity for five months. While decorating the library, she shared that she had met her current business partners through the school, and they have recently opened a pottery shop. “It’s amazing for parents, I’ve met people from everywhere. It’s a small school with a sense of community. It’s been amazing and we could not be happier,” she said. David is happy to see the speed with which new students and parents are welcomed, included, and involved. “The students welcome newcomers with open arms and the understanding we are all better together. There is a culture here of bringing people together and having the world together in one place peacefully, of young people learning to include differences without compromising their identities,” he said.
* Amity International School Amsterdam is a candidate school for the PYP pursuing authorization as an IB World School. IB World Schools share a common philosophy-a commitment to high-quality, challenging, international education. Only schools authorized by the IB Organisation can offer any of its four academic programmes: the Primary Years Programme (PYP), the Middle Years Programme (MYP), the Diploma Programme (DP), or the Career-related Programme (CP). Candidate status gives no guarantee that authorization will be granted.
Amity International School Amsterdam is hosting an Open Day for prospective Early Years (ages 3-5) students and parents on 3 April 2019! 10 am – 12 noon
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Mary Petiet is an author, poet, and freelance writer. Her work is inspired by her native Cape Cod and her experiences in the Netherlands. The author of the recently released Moon Tide: Cape Cod Poems, and Owl Magic: Your Guide Through Difficult Times, Mary is also the founder of Sea Crow Press, a small independent imprint curating creative nonfiction and poetry to give her titles a home.