Chris Peterson is father to Class of 2020 Graduate Chase Peterson, a native of California’s Bay Area who lived and learned in eight countries during his two years with THINK Global School’s CM2 cohort.
Hi Chris, can you share how you and your family arrived at the decision for Chase to attend THINK Global School?
I don’t think a parent can choose TGS for their child. TGS is so completely different that children need to make the choice first, then together with parents. Our son drove the decision to apply because he saw an opportunity to break out of what he saw as a safe, predictable, and repeating trajectory. What we saw was a school designed around goals and ideals instead of regulations, approaching education through application over memorization. TGS has been all of that and a WHOLE lot more.
What was Chase’s educational journey prior to THINK Global School?
Our son was in a highly-ranked suburban American public school. It was a good fit, his grades were strong, and he was very active socially and in school sports. Everything was going very nicely, but he knew there was more out there.
What do you consider THINK Global School’s greatest strengths?
THINK Global School’s greatest strength is its project-based learning approach, driven by a partnership between students and educators. Sure, travel brings the additional dynamics of place and culture, but the real strength is an approach to education entirely different from traditional paths. Students aren’t told what they need to learn; they define it together with peers and educators, exactly like they will need to do for the rest of their lives.
Chase learns about traditional Chinese medicine in Hangzhou, China
What do you hope Chase gained from his TGS experience?
Chase is graduating shortly, and what we’ve seen is extraordinary growth. The conversations we have with him now are deep and sincere, moving across a diverse spectrum and filled with insightful questions. We’ve also seen growth in his problem-solving abilities as a result of project-based learning. His comfort with asking why, finding purpose and defining process, and seeing how teams come together have given him a solid foundation for university, his career, and life.
Do you feel all students at TGS get the chance to shine?
Having seen each showcase, I can comfortably say that all students have the chance to shine. In fact, the curriculum is designed to enable just that. TGS students each shine at different times in different ways. You can see it in leadership skills, in ideas outside of the classroom, and always when they tell you about their projects. When they do shine, it’s pretty magical. It’s not “Look at what I did.” It’s more like, “Look what I can do, and can you believe it? I didn’t even know that I could do this! But I did, and now I want to try more!” So what I’ve seen is a shine that comes from educators opening up a door inside students they didn’t even know they had.
Chase at the CM2 showcase in Hiroshima, Japan
What is your impression of CM2 Principal Russell Cailey?
If there was a world title for best principal, I would give it to Russell without a second thought. I’ve spent a little time with him in each country and he is entirely dedicated to the success of each and every student and educator. He is exceptional, thoughtful, purposeful, and articulate. His relationship with the students is incredible, and his leadership skills are entirely enviable.
Is there a good community of parents and friends around TGS?
It’s difficult to have a community of parents at TGS given our distribution across the map. While we don’t get together for a PTA bake sale each month, we share a window into a tiny community few get to see. So when we do meet in different countries, this shared experience brings us together with ease.
What is the food like? Are there always healthy options available?
The stories from our son show that the food has its ups and downs, but I attribute that more to missing home cooking than anything else. What the students do have with regards to food is a lot of flexibility, so much of it is up to them. As an observer of our son’s cohort, I’d suggest that the girls and educators always find better places to go than the boys!
Chase preps Basque food in Bilbao, Spain
Is there anything extra we should know about TGS?
Chase’s experience with TGS has been nothing short of incredible. It has been the perfect school for him, and he can’t imagine having completed high school anywhere else. The educators are coaches and mentors, and the best I’ve ever seen. They’re also his family when he’s away, and have cared for him thoroughly and carefully, and have left a wonderfully positive impact on his character.
His fellow students are wonderful. They’re interesting, talented in surprisingly different ways, and an absolute joy to talk to. Together, they’re unstoppable and the closest of friends, thanks entirely to the way the educators brought them together.
Chase with his classmates Al-Farabi and Estelle
The locations for each term are as impressive as they are diverse. They’ve each been safe and carefully selected, but also rich with culture. And it’s important for parents to know that each place has different levels of freedom for the students that’s carefully determined.
As our son heads off to university, I know he’ll miss the incredible community he’s had with TGS. And frankly, I will, too!