Academic engagement is vital.
Moreover, Sekolah Perkumpulan Mandiri (SPM) also believes in instilling children with the philosophy of the Seven Habits to prepare them for their future.
Discussing the school’s distinctive approach to upbringing children beyond the school’s walls are Yenny Chandra and Diah Rajasa.
Hi, tell us about yourselves.
YC: My name is Yenny Chandra (YC), the Academic Director of Sekolah Perkumpulan Mandiri. While I oversee the whole school, I’m also the Junior and Senior High school Principal. At SPM, I work very closely with the principals; thus, I oversee the school’s academic department.
Diah Rajasa (DR), also known as Ita, is my colleague. Ita is the Principal of the Kindergarten and Primary campus and the facilitator and trainer for the Seven Habits programme. She trains our teachers and staff on the knowledge of The Seven Habits, including their implementation in our classrooms.
What brought you to SPM, Yenny?
I’ve been in our school for about 6.5 years. It’s unique. We were the first Indonesian school to implement The Seven Habits curriculum from Kindergarten to high school. Nowadays, we are known as Seven Habits Pioneering School.
When I initially discovered the school – still as PSKD Mandiri then – through the previous Executive Director, I was impressed at how leadership becomes the school’s core characteristic. I also contributed as an educator and channelled my passion for education through the work that I was doing.
For parents interested in enrolling their children at SPM, what can you tell them about the school’s standout points in terms of its integrated curriculum?
YC: The foundation of our school is leadership in the Seven Habits. That’s where we develop the curriculum and the programme to build our student’s character. We pride ourselves as a bilingual school that offers the Indonesian National curriculum integrated with international standards in terms of an integrated curriculum. In 2014, SPM started implementing the Cambridge curriculum starting from Primary School level to Secondary level and eventually to the Senior High School level.
We teach the International Early Years’ Curriculum programme at the kindergarten level, and students who move onto the next level learn the Cambridge programme alongside the Indonesian National curriculum. Proceeding to the Junior High School level are IGCSE and ASA level programmes.
Students obtain dual diplomas, which are the Indonesian National and Cambridge diplomas. We’ve noticed a growth of interest in parents and students looking for an integrated curriculum to allow broader opportunities for further education in the best universities in Indonesia and abroad. Hence, SPM offers a programme that enables your child to be competitive when they enrol in universities of their choice.
How does the school enrich building character and incorporate real-life experiences to students?
YC: SPM is the first Seven Habits pioneering school in Indonesia and has also been licenced as the Leader in Me School since 2009 – directly from Franklin Covey, USA. Two years after the licencing, we received our first International School recognition in 2012 as the first International Lighthouse School.
DR: The Seven Habits is a foundation for character building – a leadership programme. It starts in our Kindergarten right up to our Grade 12 High School. A group of students will be chosen as leaders annually to share ideas with the whole community, called the Lighthouse Team. Every year, all school members gather to select these leaders. These student leaders provide direction and leadership for activities such as Community Service and other leadership programmes. Additional programmes are embedded in the curriculum and immersed in daily activities.
Students aren’t only memorising the Seven Habits, but they’re implementing them in their daily lives. Moreover, our teachers and staff are role models living the Seven Habits. What does it mean to be proactive? How to actively listen to another person? What are the actions of synergy, for example? SPM daily recognises and addresses these through this foundation.
YC: Understand that the Seven Habits isn’t a written curriculum, not something students have to catch up with, but a philosophy – a way of becoming a more effective individual in society. Newly enrolled students, your child, who joins halfway in their academic journey, are immersed in this community, learning new skills, and growing in different ways.
For example, teachers from the primary level have adopted quality tools in teaching and learning processes to help students organise their obligations and be more responsible. Aside from academic focus, SPM enables your child to unleash their potential, flourish their confidence, and explore their passions and interests. They have the opportunity to express themselves and take charge of their options to hone their leadership skills through various activities inside and outside of school walls at their own pace.
In your opinion, why are 21st Century skills fundamental within a school environment?
YC: SPM believes in equal opportunity to learn; thus, all students are leaders, no matter their age – your child is capable of success according to their interests, passions, and potential. They can be leaders in their class and school activities or school programmes.
Students keep a leadership notebook, a personal diary detailing the process of their leadership journey, for example, identifying their personal and academic goals. They keep track of their Wildly Important Goals and measure their achievements over time, whether it’s a success or they need to revisit their performance and how they can improve. This exercise allows our students, your child, to express themselves in their way.
DR: The younger students need physical contact, interaction and problem-solving in person. But, I’m very impressed by how our community has stepped up stronger and become more creative. This adaptation is, of course, in line with the 21st-century skills, comprising the 4Cs: communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity.
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, students and teachers have been on and off conducting face-to-face learning. How is the school ensuring the education’s quality?
YC: We, SPM, have been running online learning since the beginning of the pandemic and have conducted face-to-face learning since September 2021. As an educator, I believe that the best learning experience is when students can learn, explore, and interact in person yet, due to the pandemic, we know there are limitations. That means we, as a school, have to innovate, change, and engage our students in new exciting ways.
Our community has adapted, grown, and learned through this process. We’re immensely proud of our students. Our students have overcome many obstacles exceptionally well and continue to excel in their learning. We’ve embraced the change, questioned our old practices, and developed to thrive in this new era.
DR: One of the basic foundations of the Seven Habits is the more challenging the situation is, the more effective the Seven Habits become. I’ve seen the students and the whole community adapting to the circumstances and uncertainty.
Leadership is within all of us, among our teachers and students. We’re taking the initiative, being proactive (as one of the habits), communicating, and finding ways to improve the quality of our education. Teaching and learning aren’t merely limited to the walls inside a classroom, but they could be anywhere. Teachers have found innovative and creative ways for students to grow and become more technologically advanced.
Speaking of community, briefly describe how community engagement is maintained at SPM despite the lost sense of it.
YC: With community engagement, we’re looking at how we synergise with one another. Thus, we identify our community as a whole. Several activities were held this year despite the ongoing situation. First is our Community Service project led by our student lighthouse team. They organised “For a Cause” events, which raised funds to support the educational needs of children who are at risk.
Second is the ASEAN Leadership Forum, an online collaborative forum for young leaders from various schools in Indonesia, Thailand, and Cambodia. They collaborated in ways to support causes, discuss global issues, etc.
The third is through the Parent Teacher Organisation (PTO). This highly involved community formed the Purple Run to fundraise for animal protection. We involve our community, reach out, and engage others in sport and exercise for a good cause.
Do you both have a message to convey, concerning education and family?
DR: Uncertainty revolves around our current lives. SPM’s annual theme: persistence, perseverance, and prevail. Through this theme, we would like everybody to be persistent despite the times we stumble. To rise, move forward, persevere, and believe that we shall prevail stronger through this troubling time.
YC: Schools, teachers, parents, and students have to change the way of learning and interaction with one another. We’ve seen how students and parents struggle. We’ve seen teachers elevate themselves and those around them. Facing constant change is inevitable.
Referring to Dr Stephen Covey, “There are three constants in life… change, choice, and principles.” Everybody has their roles. This is a challenging situation for many people, yet we shall take charge and positively impact ourselves and the people we love. As a school, SPM strives to continue to provide the best possible education for all of our students alongside parents; hence students can benefit from their learning experience.
Mention a fun fact about yourself, Yenny.
I’m passionate about education and helping children in need. A couple of my friends and I are in a cause to support children without education. These children live in slums within our country, where they literally can’t read although they are around 12 years old. We provide basic teaching to these kids. I’m happy to say some of these fantastic young people have enrolled at state schools, continuing their love of learning.
Where can our readers get in touch with you two and SPM?
Feel free to write us to [email protected] and [email protected]! Get in touch with SPM by emailing [email protected], calling (021) 392-4384 or sending a WhatsApp message to Enrollment at 0816-1690-008 and Student Services at 0816-1690-005.
Address: Jl. DR GSSY Ratulangi No. 5 & 14, Menteng, Gondangdia, Central Jakarta, 10350.