Hong Kong Academy cultivates a multicultural, caring and diverse community. As an all-through school we welcome new families in every grade level all year round. Hear what it feels like to be part of our dynamic learning community from those who know us best.
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Jos and Josien Kruisman
We remember our children’s first day at HKA very well. They were full of excitement while waiting for the school bus, not only because it was their first day at a new school in a new country but also because they had to learn a new language from scratch as they didn’t speak any English at that time.
Google translate was a great help in the first few days, but with the huge support and commitment of the learning support team, their classroom teachers and their classmates, the children made enormous progress with their English language skills and confidently made new friends. They were able to fully participate in class within a few months of joining, and, at the end of the school year our daughter signed up to present in the school theatre as part of the Grade 5 exhibition. For us this was the ultimate proof that she felt confident with communicating and expressing herself in the English language.
Not every day was easy, however, we are very grateful to HKA for giving our children this life changing experience in a safe and encouraging environment. As we move on from Hong Kong to our next family posting our children are proudly looking forward to joining their new school as proficient English speaking students and IB learners.
We really appreciate the mental and physical development which our boys experience through climbing at HKA. They need to strategise their routes, take risks and challenge themselves, as well as cheer on their teammates and work with other students of different age groups and climbing abilities. It’s wonderful to see the boys applying some of these same behaviours to their PYP and MYP projects and we’re looking forward to our youngest son getting on the wall soon!
Class of 2014 Graduate
I was born in the US and attended an international primary school there which offered a Japanese language immersion programme. I completed middle school in Fukuoka, Japan and then moved to HKA to complete my high school studies. After graduating from HKA in 2014, I started college in the US but realised that it wasn’t the right path for me. I moved back to Hong Kong where my mum advised me to, “Find out what you really want to do, and in the meantime do something productive.”
I found a job with a Sai Kung-based restaurant run by two young entrepreneurs. During the 18 months that I worked for them, I was fortunate to be involved in a couple of venue start ups. This experience gave me the opportunity to learn the trade and reinforced how important it is to foster a strong and supportive staff and contact network.
At the age of 21, I opened a sea front bar/restaurant called Momentai and a couple of years later started a craft cider import business. My latest project is a new venue in Mong Kong called Graceland. Graceland will be the only restaurant in Hong Kong with a vinyl spinning juke box and will serve Southern United States-inspired food cooked by an American chef.
When I reflect on my time at HKA and how that shaped me, I think about the importance of supportive relationships and the opportunities which come from being able to pursue your interests and forge your own path. HKA was the ideal school for me because they offered a flexible course configuration delivered in small class sizes. My schedule included two arts classes as well as History, Physics, Mathematics and English. Teachers were able to give lots of one-on-one time and support both in and out of class, and they encouraged me to find working styles that were right for me.
It has been a pleasure to stay connected with HKA teachers and parents through serving them as customers, and each year I have employed at least one HKA graduate as part of the Momentai workforce. We have hosted HKA graduation parties, back to school welcome events and numerous parent gatherings, and I look forward to continuing my connection with HKA by supporting the Secondary School pathway development programme.
Class of 2021 Graduate
My name is Cherry and I joined HKA in 2014 as a Grade 6 student having attended a local primary school. My parents did a lot of research about international secondary school options and were attracted to HKA because of the international diversity, amazing facilities and co-curricular opportunities. Perhaps even more importantly, they were impressed by how happy and confident the students were in their studies and they wanted that for me.
I graduated in May 2021, and when I reflect upon my time at HKA I appreciate how the school had a positive impact on my wellbeing and supported me as I shaped my identity. As a new student in Grade 6 all the way through my final years in the IB Diploma, I benefitted from HKA’s warm and caring community and the small class sizes. The teachers really knew me as an individual and were so knowledgeable and passionate about their subjects. When the workload was high the teachers were very flexible and found ways to mentor and motivate us through it, and I always felt comfortable to approach them when I needed help.
HKA teachers also encouraged me to balance my studies with sporting, creative and service activities. I represented the school in an international maths competition, competed in an HKA sports team, built a website to showcase my Grade 10 personal project and also worked as a student intern mentoring primary school kids during HKA’s summer activity programme and after school ceramics classes.
What I found most rewarding was the joy that I discovered through service and giving back to others. My interest and dedication to this built over time, starting with units of study in Individuals and Societies classes and growing through my involvement with community projects and the Global Citizens Diploma (GCD) programme. As the founding member and leader of HKA’s ImpactHK student group, I advocated for the homeless and participated in monthly ‘Kindness walks’ for over three years. I also worked as a volunteer at a charity in HK that supports children with terminal diseases. I was inspired by their positivity and this reinforced my desire to make an impact in the lives of others.
In 2019 I was honoured to receive the Kiwanis Community Service Award, a local and international award that recognises extended service and contribution to communities in need. I was successful in my pursuit of an IB Diploma, completing Higher Levels in Psychology, Mandarin and Music and Standard Levels in English, Maths and Environmental Systems and Societies. I am now studying Educational Psychology at University College London in the UK, with the longer term goal of working in a job which advances the psychological wellbeing of children.
Class of 2015 Graduate
I was a student at Hong Kong Academy from Pre-Kindergarten until I graduated in 2015. I went on to study at Bowdoin College in the United States, where I earned a BA in Mathematics and a minor in Economics in 2019. I am currently working as an Asset Manager for Soltage: a Renewable Energy investor and provider based in the greater New York area. In my role, I perform financial analysis and monitor the performance of our portfolio of solar energy projects.
I think that HKA prepared me to forge my career path in a few ways. The Class of 2015 was only 19 people and I enjoyed the close-knit community and the relationships I was able to build in such a small class. After HKA, I chose to attend a small college (1800 students) and to pursue a career at a small company (50 employees) so that I could continue to build similar relationships to those I built while at school.
Having graduated from HKA with an IB Diploma, I definitely felt more prepared than some of my first-year peers for the academic rigor of a competitive US college. And I would argue that my teachers and mentors at HKA, as much as the IB programmeitself, helped me learn how to manage my time and workload at the collegiate level that led to success in my classes.
The teachers at HKA helped foster a huge sense of community. I believe I had strong connections with almost all of my teachers at HKA, from connecting with them outside the classroom when traveling on experiential learning trips or as coaches on various ACAMIS sports trips, as well as in after-school and weekend study sessions. This mentoring and the many opportunities to challenge myself definitely helped me feel more comfortable working with others, whether that be in teams or clubs in college, interacting with professors, and most recently in successfully cooperating with co-workers and managers.
Growing up as a member of the HKA community also raised my consciousness of the environment and the importance of sustainability, emphasized both by student initiatives and the Sai Kung campus. While I didn’t pursue a degree or major in environmental studies, I chose to join both a company and an industry that, like HKA, are committed to making the world a more efficient and environmentally-friendly place.
Santo Rizzuto & Walter Jennings
It’s hard to be concise about a life-changing, positive experience that has impacted every member of our family – but that’s what we experienced during our ten years at Hong Kong Academy!
Ethan started mid-way through second grade and graduated in the summer of 2022. The teams at HKA are dedicated and passionate about learning and community, and the academic rigour that our son experienced at HKA consistently challenged and elevated him. We couldn’t have asked for a better peer group for our son. He made life-long friends, as have we. What started as a school soon became our community.
As our son moved on to university, we felt confident that he knew how to learn. He’s self-driven and motivated. He’s curious and interested. He’s accepting and adaptable. We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to HKA. You ignited his interests and talents, and helped our son grow into his potential.
Karen & Nick Beecroft
We were initially attracted by HKA’s focus on the ‘whole child’, the fantastic facilities and the positive buzz that pervades the school. We became members of the HKA community when our eldest son started Kindergarten in 2014 and over the years, we saw that HKA kids are not just academically confident – they are also artistic, curious, articulate, empathetic, athletic and open-minded. They are adaptable and able to utilise technology to suit their purposes. They are comfortable presenting to a range of audiences. They have an understanding, right from the beginning, that they have a responsibility to others and to the planet. There are some truly exceptional staff and teachers at HKA – we feel very lucky to have had access to such talented professionals. There is also a true sense of community that we loved from the beginning. HKA was a great choice for us and a wonderful environment for our children.
Mishi & Scott Keller
Hong Kong Academy embodies many of the features that lead to a kinder, gentler society. Here, we have found for our daughter a nurturing environment that emphasises the whole individual and celebrates differences of skin colour, of ability, of nationality. We have found a place that invites and cultivates diversity, that cheers a student’s strengths and supports her as needed. What a relief to find that pastoral care is as important as grades, that a student’s overall wellbeing comes ahead of everything else, to see that the teachers understand our child so completely. From the moment we stepped onto HKA’s environmentally conscious, stunning campus, we knew we had found something special.
Serena & Victor Njo
We moved to Hong Kong during the peak of the pandemic and our daughter Mila joined HKA in Grade 3 after being in an IB-school in Shanghai. Our family, being a mishmash of Dutch/Indonesian and Taiwanese culture and upbringing, was looking for Mila to continue her IB-curriculum in a similar diverse environment. Several of her previous teachers highly recommended Mila to continue her education at HKA. Due to the situation we were not able to visit the school in person to get an introduction, however, Mila was adamant HKA would be the only school she would consider.
By the time we were physically able to visit the school and meet people we experienced the warmth of this community. Back then, both faculty and parents from Mila’s new classmates were – and still are – a tremendous group of people who provided genuine support to make Mila’s integration, and also ours, easier during these uncertain times. The teachers and support staff truly understand that each student has a unique character. They make efforts to provide guidance to further develop each student’s individual potential and empower them to be better equipped to navigate the more unpredictable world of future adulthood and make the right decisions for themselves.
Matilde & Fabrizio Paniccia
Our daughter started in Grade 1 in January 2019 and after the summer our son started in Kindergarten. We loved the spacious campus and had friends at HKA who were very happy. But it’s always difficult to know exactly what to expect from a new school and we were not that familiar with the IB system either. We were so happy to have chosen HKA. The teachers and specialist teachers are incredibly supportive and encouraging. There is attention given to all aspects of the children’s development. Academics are important of course, but to us in the formative years of early primary school it is probably even more important that our children go to a school that guides them and their classmates in their emotional and physical development as well. At HKA children learn life skills. They learn to be curious, creative and caring. They learn to understand their feelings. They learn that it’s OK to make mistakes, and how they can fix things when something goes wrong. They learn how to have a positive impact on the broader community and the planet they live on. Not every day is a great day and not everything people do is perfect. But in an environment of positive feedback and encouragement the progress our children made during their time at HKA was very impressive. And importantly our children loved going to school there!
HKA’s Pre-K Mandarin immersion programme was wonderful for my son. His first language is Mandarin and at HKA he quickly became a confident English speaker and was also proud to speak Mandarin in class and help other students. My daughter joined HKA for her last year of Primary School and was quite nervous about joining a new school environment. The teachers assured us that she would quickly settle in and they were right. Coming home after her first day she excitedly told me that all her classmates were very nice to her and she quickly went on to make good friends.
There is a strong sense of community at HKA and parents are encouraged as partners in many school projects. For example at mid Autumn festival some parents made beautiful traditional rabbit lanterns to show the students how to celebrate the festival and learn about Chinese culture. And, another group of parents and HKA teachers built a digital Mandarin read-aloud story library to support their enjoyment of Mandarin as a living language. It’s wonderful to have both children at the same school and we really appreciate HKA’s kind and experienced teachers who have given us many helpful suggestions and tips about how we can support our children in their learning.
Jing & Sinan Zhang
There is nothing more satisfying than seeing our boys waking up everyday looking forward to going to school and coming home happy! After 9 months at HKA I’m thrilled to notice how my boys have fallen in love with books and the school library. My older son was able to sound out some words when he joined HKA, now he is reading graphic novels and chapter stories independently and has started to write and design his own books and diaries. My younger son has also started reading books by himself, using the words he knows and adding his own story-lines as he turns the pages.
We can see how the teachers are also creating space for the children to learn important social skills such as how to work in a team and how to voice out their own ideas and opinions. If you asked me how to choose the best school for your children I’d say find the one which feels right for you. HKA’s campus and facilities are beautiful. The teachers and staff are passionate about what they do and truly care for the students, it is the perfect fit for our family.
Rachel Knowles & Carl Fowler
From the wonderful guards at the front door to senior leadership, the culture of respect and care that flows through HKA is tangible. We have been unfailingly impressed by the ethos of the staff and their dedication and commitment to every child in their care. Children’s social emotional wellbeing and mental health is placed at the very heart of the school and we truly believe that the long term value of this cannot be understated.
The continued excitement about learning and life fostered by the energy of the staff has had a hugely positive impact on the confidence, self-awareness and self-esteem of our children. We appreciate HKA and what each adult involved in our two children’s education does for them, and feel safe in the knowledge that when we drop them at school they are being nurtured in every single way.
Rosa & Freddy So
“Among all the schools we visited, I really love HKA the most, everyone is so friendly there and I think they like me.” This is what my 5 ½ year old son said after his assessment at HKA. He had already attended over 10 school interviews that year and as a typical “tiger mom” I knew how exhausted my little one felt when he thought he had already been to every school in Hong Kong. At HKA, instead of stressing my boy to answer interview questions the teachers welcomed him to join a regular class and he was even able to make a few friends that day. Looking at his eyes sparkling with joy, we knew we’d finally found the right school for our kids. We believe that learning is a lifelong process and the inquiry-based education offered by HKA is the key to empower and keep our children interested in learning. The whole school environment is designed to be happy and stimulating while its regular counselling and personal development sessions in class also show how HKA values and supports the wellbeing of the kids as well as their academics.
Victoria & Byron Phillips
Moving to Hong Kong, our biggest concern was choosing the right school for our children. Despite coming from a U.K. curriculum, the broad nature of an IB curriculum, along with HKA’s focus on problem-solving, critical thinking and self-drive was perfect for our family. HKA’s commitment to academic prowess is a given, but, for us, just as importantly, HKA has created the most wonderful, supportive, environment for our children to develop and thrive in. It has helped promote a growth-mindset, focus on kindness and inclusion, a self-confidence to try new things and a love for learning. From the fantastic people and facilities to the cultural awareness and appreciation for our world that HKA fosters, we could not have dreamt of a better learning environment for our children.
Primary School Counsellor
Counsellor Coffee Mornings are one of many ways that we connect and support each other as a parent-educator community at HKA. During this time we come together in an open and trusting environment where we talk freely about our shared experiences, discuss how we might resolve problems and examine current parenting and education research. These home-school partnerships are beneficial to the development of our children and I have benefited greatly from these precious times together both as a parent and an educator.
Class of 2019 Graduate
What’s special at HKA is that if you want to foster a passion all it takes is for you to turn to the people around you. There is always someone who is willing and available to help you develop your idea and take it to the next level.
Volunteering at both primary and secondary libraries at Hong Kong Academy was a very rewarding experience. Through spending time in the library and observing the teacher librarians at work I was able to see the school philosophy in action and better understand the methodology of the IB programme. Additionally I had the opportunity to connect with teachers, students, parents and the wider Hong Kong Academy community.
Class of 2020 Graduate
Kai Marcel Scholz
Being part of the Theatre Tech Live-streaming team helped me to develop not only media production and storytelling skills but also allowed me to become a calm, critical and creative thinker.
Class of 2020 Graduate
I’m grateful to have been given the opportunity to meet, learn from, and work with the most talented people, whether they were professional artists, teachers, or students. Thanks to them and their support, music became my way of speaking and a way to find my happy place: on stage, lost in the music, and just singing my heart out.
Our son attended HKA for 11 years and during that time we saw him transform into a confident young man with a strong academic work-ethic who is able to work creatively with others, command the stage and connect with an audience. These are invaluable skills which benefited him enormously throughout his school career as well as ensuring that he was able to secure undergraduate course offers from world class universities and colleges in both the US and Europe. He is now studying an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering at his first choice university, the University of Wisconsin, and has shared that studying chemistry and higher level maths as part of his IB Diploma really set him up for success as the IB content is quite advanced compared to what some of his university friends learned in other curriculums.
There are so many different types of sports teams, events, and training that caters to everyone’s passions or interests. Helping us as a community to become better athletes and develop into independent, amazing leaders. We have so much talent in each and everyone on of us. It’s not even just about being skilled or talented, it’s also about the love and school spirit…..Overall, I believe that HKA sports are all about working hard, playing hard, and being there for each other as one.
Playing sports at HKA has allowed me to make strong friendships with people not only in my grade but also the grades above and below. Sport plays such an important role in my life and having so many people with the same values is great. We all train hard together and are all striving to win. Playing in our international sports events is one of my highlights in the school year. We travel as a team and play other competitive teams, it gives a chance to become very close as a team and also make friends with students from other schools.
Information Technology Manager & Coach
At HKA, sport is integral to student development. In many ways, sport is a metaphor for life, and learning to take part in sports successfully helps to equip students to do life well. It provides a means to challenge yourself, to learn to deal with hardship and setbacks, and to learn how perseverance plays a large role in success. Sport is a crucial component of learning teamwork and responsibility, and provides a wonderful opportunity to learn to celebrate and capitalise on each other’s strengths while accommodating weaknesses, realising that all people have a unique mix of each.
Sport at HKA galvanizes the school community around a shared HKA identity with a programme which is inclusive and welcoming. From Saturday Sports which introduces younger kids to sports and works on skills for the older kids, to the SCISAC and ACAMIS competitions with schools from around the region, kids, parents and teachers come together around a shared celebration of physicality, play and competition. HKA kids are competitive but collegial, sportsmanlike but scrappy, they learn that they can expand their own limits, and the parents see what their kids can achieve outside the classroom. And everyone has fun, watchers and players alike.
Operations and ASA Coordinator
The sports programme at HKA creates a platform where I can share my passion and connect with the students through sports. Being involved with sport introduced me to some great mentors as I was growing up and that really helped me become the person that I am today. Being a coach is a great way to give back to the student community and support the next generation with sports and life skills.
Early Childhood Learner Support Coordinator
Being a part of a dynamic and diverse learning community has taught me how collaboration, responsible action, and reflection can surface the strengths of all members of our community.
Primary School Teacher Librarian
Working at HKA is every librarian’s dream come true: an amazing library space at the heart of the school; a diverse, constantly evolving collection; ongoing collaboration with classroom and specialist teachers; teaching and learning with engaged and curious inquirers; and above all, being part of a passionate community of readers of all ages who truly value reading, celebrating it in small and big ways every day, throughout the year.
Secondary School Language & Literature Teacher
I came to HKA because of the mission. When I arrived, I was impressed by the combination of expertise and empathy in the faculty and staff. And I love the challenge of continuing to offer challenging and flexible opportunities for a diverse array of students.
Secondary School Visual Arts Teacher
HKA is a challenging and rewarding school to work in for the same reason: it’s a community that believes in going the extra mile for our students and that takes time, energy and effort. The challenges come from working in a responsive, hard-working environment with high expectations of teachers to differentiate and meet the needs of our diverse and inclusive population. The rewards come from the sense of collegiality, community and pride within the faculty and the close student relationships, that result from this approach.
Liesel & Brad Lander
Our daughters Emily and Rebecca joined HKA in 2018 (G8 and G5). It was their first experience living outside their home country and outside the Irish school system. HKA helped ease the transition with incredible support from their wonderful staff and the community. During the last four years, we have seen them flourish in both their academic and personal lives. HKA has been wholly committed to tailoring their individual pathways, which has enabled them to see the world as their oyster and open their minds to so many more opportunities and experiences. It is wonderful to see Emily’s motivation in her final year and how positive and excited she is about the next step in her journey. This has been made possible through HKA’s flexibility and talented teaching staff creating her unique pathway. HKA’s amazing, modern campus in the thriving seaside town of Sai Kung nurtures that sense of community and is a wonderful, safe place for children to meet and grow.
My daughter joined HKA in Grade 8 after being in another international school in Hong Kong previously. The reason we chose Hong Kong Academy is because we were really interested in the IB school system and what HKA has to offer. Since joining I have observed how Ebigale’s creative thinking has moved to the next level. She is also learning really advanced research skills and was recently shortlisted as a finalist at the HK art symposium. We really enjoy the small scale of community at Hong Kong Academy and how the school feels like a family to all families. From the very beginning, the HKA community has been nothing but welcoming and we’re delighted to be a part of it.
Class of 2016 Graduate
I started at HKA in Grade 6 and graduated in 2016. From there, I went to the University of Glasgow in Scotland where I completed a five year course in veterinary medicine and surgery, certifying me to practice in Australia, Hong Kong and the UK. I also took a further exam which licenses me to practice in North America. I’m now beginning my first position at a small animal hospital in Portsmouth in the UK, where I will treat animals like dogs, cats, birds and guinea pigs that are in need of care.
Both the IB MYP and DP helped prepare me for earning my degree and starting my career. My studies required me to write a lot of academic papers, record details of my learning process, conduct research and think critically. Completing the Personal Project in the MYP and Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge in the DP taught me the discipline of maintaining my focus over long term projects. In my last year, I had to write a thesis reflecting on all of my experiences throughout vet school and my experiences as an IB student at HKA grounded me in understanding my strengths as a learner.
Being a part of such a close knit community meant that I developed strong relationships with both classmates and teachers and got to know everyone really well. Even though my university was huge, the vet school was small, and I felt confident that I could reach out to my professors and lecturers to seek their support at any time. At HKA, I learned how important it is to embrace everyone’s differences and cultures. The community is very international and diverse, which really helped me adapt to moving across the world and successfully settle into a different environment.
I love keeping up with what is happening at HKA today through the community and alumni Facebook pages. I enjoy watching the videos and seeing how the school has progressed, what the students today are achieving and reconnecting with other graduates from different classes. It’s good to know people are doing well and that the school continues to grow.
We know how important it is to find the right school for your family and look forward to sharing more about what makes HKA special.