Benito Vacio

A dream school in the making

What does it take to become a top Thai school?

Classes in Thailand opened last month. Teachers, students and administrators are once again ready to perform their duties and responsibilities to put the name of their school in the limelight and live up to the expectations of those who acknowledge their school as role model in the community. This is because there are many remarkable public elementary schools in Thailand that have talented students, enviable faculties, energetic directors, modern facilities, and wide range of accomplishments.

Take Wat Lakkhon School of Ratniyom, Sainoi, Nonthaburi, Thailand as a good example. In 2011 it had only a hundred students coming from Shri Ayutthaya, Pathum Thani, and Nonthaburi. There were 12 teachers and I was the lone foreign teacher. That same year it was awarded by His Majesty, the King, the 'Best school in Thailand (small school category).

Getting the award was not easy. On several occasions our school and students were subjected to the scrutiny of a select committee. The first visit was the qualifying round in the district. Our students had to present school activities on stage for half an hour. The second was appearing again to another committee but this time the objective was to choose the best school in the whole province of Nonthaburi. In the third round our students presented the different subject areas, explained their activities, and answered the judges' questions about their presentations. Then the score was pitted against the best schools in Central Thailand. Once again, our school emerged number 1 in the region.

Finally, the committee's evaluation was elevated to the last stage of the competition and Wat Lakkhon was adjudged the best school among small schools in the 5 regions of Thailand.

What really makes the best school in Thailand? Is it because of its talented students , super diligent teachers, or top-ranking directors? I guess they are. In the competition that our school joined in, I had no idea of the criteria used in judging. All I knew was that the students' speeches and presentations were fantastic. I think we made it to the top because prior to the competition, the school had already won 3 years in a row as the school having the best canteen given by an awarding body from Area 2 of Nonthaburi.

In 2009, the school toilet was also judged as the cleanest in Nonthaburi. Other than these, the school owned a 'one of a kind' museum - housing agricultural implements, musical, and interesting relics of the district. What was amazing too was the mushroom culture of the school that supplied the weekly needs of the school. The school garden contributed points for it regularly provided canteen needs like fruit juices, herbs, spices and fruits.

For the most important one, all activities in this school were geared towards the advancement of science and the development of technology. Of course another contributing factor to the school's uniqueness was the presence of talented students who showcased Thai culture through dance, cooking, agri-business, arts, and crafts.

Another commendable project was the Smart Citizen Project initiated by the director that had encouraged students to be helpful, polite, and smart. Perhaps, one contributory factor to the effectiveness of the teachers was that all of them had been given free housing with basic amenities that enabled them to be in school on time, efficient, and happy.

There is a competition being held in Thailand this year entitled, "Dream School". The director did not participate this time because joining a competition entails a lot of preparation and sacrifices to make. Perhaps in the future, it will be part of that search. As a model of perfection, my school maintains its cleanliness, its good instruction, and good performance of students. Since it has earned a name, the school has had frequent visitors from schools in Nonthaburi and even schools as far as the North of Thailand. The director hopes that he will be able to sustain this until the time the school enters the competition where it can be considered a "Dream School" as well.

Neighborhood Scout, an Internet website, in its Enterprise-grade data for every neighborhood and city in the U.S. article reported, "America is blessed with thousands of excellent public school which are choc-full of exceptional teachers managed by top-notched administrators, and filled with outstanding students."

May all school administrators be challenged to take a lead in their schools like the administrators I have known who raise funds for the school by holding musical and cultural concerts, raising funds through solicitation, and holding dinner events.

May the teachers in Thailand also, keep on taking qualifying examinations, take up masters degrees, attend in-service trainings, seminars, and workshops to improve themselves. There is no reason for a school not to emerge a winner in any competition if administrators, teachers and staff and students work together as a team.


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