Ms. Gretchen Noelle DePoint (MS Principal)
MA in Education Administration, Grand Canyon University 
MA in ART Therapy - Special Education, Praff Institute
BA in Art and Photo, University of Dayton

I’m currently in my 10th year at Ruamrudee International School and am excited to start my 5th year as the Middle School Principal. Hailing from Sodus Point, NY, on beautiful Lake Ontario, I began my education to become an Art Therapist only to find my passion and life’s work in education. I am blessed to be joined by my husband, Tim, who also works at Ruamrudee in the high school as the IB Diploma Coordinator and Psychology/TOK teacher. Additionally, our three children attend Ruamrudee and are all proud to be a “Phoenix.” We have been very fortunate to have been able to adopt our youngest child from Thailand during our time here. And I can’t forget to mention our other family member, our gentle siberian husky, Tilac.

What I love most about RIS is the active, vibrant nature of the school community. I don’t just mean the faculty and all of the diverse activities on and off campus but also the wonderfully kind parent community and our incredible students. It makes me smile to think about all of the amazing things our inquisitive students accomplish and the incredible human beings they become. My favorite thing about Thailand is the authentic, genuine, compassionate people and the hearts and smiles of nearly everyone, which is very calming for this New Yorker. Of course, I love the beautiful country itself, from the diversity of Chiang Mai down to the incredible ocean water and beaches of Koh Chang.

I have many passions, such as pottery, but  between work and parenting I don’t have much time to pursue my hobbies these days. So my number one love is traveling and spending time with my amazing children and husband.

One thing people might not know about me is that many years ago I rode my bicycle across the USA—within 57 days—to raise money for a local AIDS foundation. I would love to something like that it Thailand, but it is just too hot!

Mathia Sanders, Middle School Assistant Principal
MEd Educational Administration, Western Washington University
BA in English, Western Washington University

Hi! I'm originally from Spokane, Washington—go Zags! Before moving to Thailand, I taught grades 3–5 in Seattle. I’ve been at RIS for three years. Living in Thailand is a terrific experience—the culture, food, landscape, and people are all incredible! With holiday time, I enjoy traveling through Southeast Asia by motorcycle, exploring the mountainous national parks and relaxing on the beautiful beaches of Thailand. During my free time, I enjoy reading the day away in coffee shops, exploring Bangkok’s older movie theaters, and hanging out at the night markets—especially the train markets! I'm interested in photography, video production, music, and sports. I also enjoy writing and playing my own music.

Overview

The goal in the middle school (MS) is to develop students who are creative, compassionate, problem solvers. MS students have the opportunity to explore an abundance of interesting and challenging courses that develop the critical-thinking skills necessary for success in the IB and AP programs in high school. All middle school courses are enriched by a 1:1 student-to-device laptop program.

Our focus is on skill-building, project-based learning in which students examine topics ranging from effective communication and digital citizenship to empathy and how to manage stress. This approach supports the students’ academic development, social-emotional needs, and their global-mindedness, as well as helps them understand the connections between their world at school and the world at large. The middle school also emphasizes the importance of students building genuine, positive relationships with their peers and teachers. 

Ms Profile 2018 2019

Curriculum

Core Curriculum

The middle school curriculum at RIS is based on a philosophy of “exposure, exploration, and experimentation.” The middle school years are a time of significant change for young people. We believe it is our duty to present our students with a broad range of learning opportunities across a variety of content areas.

At its core, our curriculum centers around language arts, social studies, math, and science. The scope and sequence of these subjects are guided by the American Education Reaches Out (AERO) standards. The language arts department applies elements of the workshop model and uses the 6+1® Traits Writing framework to guide students toward English usage proficiency. Math and science modules are based on both the Next Generation Science Standards and the AERO standards. Our core content teachers employ resources from a broad spectrum of curricula to shape learning opportunities for students as they cover the required standards.

Health, wellness, and values are also integral subjects in the MS curriculum. In our stand-alone health class, students learn about physical, mental, social, and digital health. Our Advisory program focuses on social and emotional well-being, as well as interpersonal skills, digital literacy, and college- and career-readiness.

Electives

Students are offered a wealth of elective choices in middle school. These opportunities for exploration include modern languages (Mandarin, Spanish, and Thai), culinary arts, design technology, industrial design and woodwork, computer science, and visual art, among several others. Students frequently report that their favorite feature of middle school is the different choices they have for new and interesting areas of learning.

Clubs and extracurricular activities are also an integral part of the middle school experience. Our students have the opportunity to

  • pursue political interests along with public speaking and debating skills in the Model United Nations club
  • represent their peers and engage in planning and running school events/activities with the Middle School Council
  • practice their skills as engineers, producers, and artists in the Destination Imagination club
  • participate in academic competitions—both regionally and globally—in the fun and challenging World Scholar’s Cup
  • compete in the Asia division of the International History Bee and Bowl
Support

Our middle school language arts and social studies teachers use a co-teaching model, which means that in many classes two teachers are in one classroom at the same time. This allows teachers to spend more time identifying specific student’s needs and allows more opportunities for small-group and one-on-one instruction. Co-teachers are also able to enhance rich learning environments with abundant visual supports, diversified instructional delivery, and small teacher-to-student ratios.

The middle school further offers students a Focus Block each day—a 45-minute period during which students are encouraged to direct their own learning. Students can use this time to work with content-area teachers to clarify their understanding of a particular topic, to attend classes designed to apply and extend their learning, or to participate in intervention classes to close gaps in certain proficiencies.

A Typical Day

Students arrive by 7:00 am to get to their lockers, talk with friends, and make it to their first classes on time. After the first block, students have a 20-minute milk break, during which the MS Makerspace is open for students to create and explore all sorts of engineering and design-based projects, including 3D-printed forms. The MS Lounge is also open for students to read from our library of over 1,000 books, play chess and other board games, or hang out and talk with friends. In addition, five ping-pong tables are available for students’ use during break times. Students also have access to the athletic fields and basketball courts. Typically, they grab a snack or drink in the canteen during milk break. Then they return for two class periods before a 40-minute lunch break, during which all of the aforementioned spaces and activities are available to them. Throughout the day, students attend their core classes along with two electives. Our 1:1 laptop program ensures that every student has access to and is engaged with Internet-ready technology in each class. Many teachers collaborate with other departments to design cross-curricular projects that demand synthesis of content, depth of knowledge, and application of skills.

Explore the Kingdom

A hallmark of the RIS Middle School experience is the annual Explore the Kingdom trip. These three-day, two-night field trips include team-building activities, outdoor education, and plenty of opportunities to bond with friends and classmates. Each grade level embarks on a separate trip within the beautiful Kingdom of Thailand. Prior to these excursions, our teachers partner with each outdoor education provider to connect students’ classroom learning to their experiences in the outdoors. Students have collected and analyzed water samples, built dams, identified wildlife, and recorded data, among other things. Featured activities designed mostly for fun typically include rock climbing, exploring caves, and hiking. These trips also provide ample time for students to be with friends and peers in a setting other than school, which students often mention as some of their favorite moments about the trips. 

MS Summer School

MS Summer School is a three-week program that focuses on literacy, math, and English language learning. Along with direct instruction, students get to experience a variety of activities where they can apply their learning. STEAM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) projects give students opportunities to build small machines, grow organic gardens, design new sports, or construct projects of their own choosing. Students in the MS Summer School program also create art projects and take part in PE activities.