Masala meets with Ms. Lady to discuss new frontiers in education.
Masala met with Ms. Lady Didyasarin Tavedikul, the School Director of both The American School of Bangkok, Sukhumvit (ASB) and Didyasarin International Preparatory School Bangkok (D-PREP), and it was clear to see that education is her lifeblood. Not only does her family have a long history in the educational sphere – her mother founded Didyasarin International Kindergarten, now The American School of Bangkok (ASB), and her grandparents were also in education – but Ms. Lady’s passion for educating children in the right way clearly shines through.
A big proponent of the idea that if you have the right teacher and the right learning environment, every child can ﬁnd their full potential, her love aﬀair with education had a rocky beginning. “I went to an international school here in Bangkok, and frankly, I did not enjoy it,” she reveals. “It was painful, I never did my homework, and I had a GPA of 1.8. I thought I wasn’t a smart student because I didn’t connect with what I was being taught.”
That all changed, however, when she took it upon herself to move to Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School in New York, one of the most elite prep schools worldwide. “To get there, I needed to bring my GPA up to near 4.0 so I started paying attention in class, and I started to ask the teachers when I didn’t understand. When I moved to Columbia Prep, I retained my 4.0 GPA because every teacher there inspired me and believed in me.” That experience changed Ms. Lady’s view of education, enabling the realisation that it was not so much the subject matter but how it’s taught that will inspire students to learn.
She followed her newfound passion with a Master’s at Columbia University, one of the top ﬁve teacher’s colleges for education, where she worked as a student-teacher. “I taught at more traditional public schools as well as progressive schools that were Reggio Emilia-inspired, and those experiences cemented my belief that a good educational system has to develop the whole human being – creatively, academically, as well as socially and emotionally.”
From there, she visited Finland to learn about their cutting-edge approach to education: despite only having four hours a day of schooling for the younger grades, they consistently scored the highest in Maths and Literacy in the global Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). “What I got from there is that less is more,” Ms. Lady says. “Choose the most important things to teach, and make sure the kids understand it to a level where they can apply it to anything.
Who is your biggest Inspiration in education?
His Majesty King Rama IX, who was, among many other achievements, an educator with many philosophies about teaching and learning. He said, “learning should be used to solve real-world problems, it should be practical; it should be experimental; you should allow the learner to fail.” He talked about two kinds of education: academic and moral education. Although our school has very rigorous academic standards, we also place a lot of importance on the latter, which we call ‘character education.’
His Majesty was also skilled in many disciplines – from being an engineer, to a scientist, a composer of music, and an artist; for me, he’s superhuman. I wanted to teach the kids that if the late King who was a human being could be an expert in 20 diﬀerent ﬁelds, they can also succeed in multiple dreams.
What was the impetus behind opening D-PREP, and why did you choose this location?
When I came back to Thailand, I was the kindergarten principal for ASB Sukhumvit and then the school director for 10 years. Six years ago, I got the opportunity to open my own ASB Kindergarten campus inside of Mega Bangna Mall, which was very successful. Because of that experience, I wanted to create a school that would be one of the ﬁrst in Thailand, and in the world, that would do a 180 degree shift in the way we think about education. My goal is to teach kids to excel academically, but to also be good people.
At that time, Mega Bangna had land here, and they oﬀered it to me if I wanted to extend the ASB Kindergarten, and that’s how D-PREP was born. I chose the name Didyasarin because it was ASB’s original name and because it means ‘creators,’ which is what we’re doing here – fostering the potential to create our own destiny.
What have you brought to D-PREP from your experience in ASB?
Everything that works at ASB, we’re bringing over. D-PREP is for parents who want to try out a new curriculum and who want to check out experiential-learning, but both ASB and D-PREP are student-centric schools, and their academic standards are just as rigorous. ASB has the best scholarship opportunities of all the international schools in Thailand, and the same team who’s helped students achieve that will be doing the same in our upcoming high school.
What makes D-PREP unique from other international schools?
What sets our school apart is that we believe in intrinsic motivation. We achieve this through experiential learning, which allows children to create an emotional connection to what they’re learning. When we learn purely through rote learning, you forget everything after your exams, as it doesn’t make a neurological mark in our brains. Our goal is to teach kids the core things that won’t change no matter how much the world changes, as well as preparing them for the future with A.I. and digital literacy. These include life skills like problem solving, innovation, and collaboration, as well as career planning, presentation skills, emotional regulation.
Teachers are also key, which is why when I opened this school, my objective was to choose the right people. We spend most of our budget on professional development and teacher recruitment, and our teachers are required to work as a team to ﬁ nd inter-disciplinary projects and solutions for the students. Our care for the students, from the maids to the administrators, also sets us apart. Here, everybody knows everyone, and every child is always a somebody. It’s personalised both in the classroom and in terms of administrative care.
What is your biggest challenge to date, both for you as a founder and for D-PREP in general?
Parents often think we’re a new school as they don’t recognise our name from back when ASB used to be called Didyasarin. I want to emphasise to them that we have experience that spans decades, and that we use the best educational systems from around the world at D-PREP.
It also takes time for parents to trust our experiential learning system, because they don’t realise how academically rigorous we also are. But by the time their kids reach Grade 1 with us, the results speak for themselves – and I invite them all to visit us and see the diﬀerence for themselves.
D-PREP International School
38, 38/1-3, 39, Moo 6
Bangna-Trad Km. 8, Bangkaew,
Bangphlee, Samutprakarn 10540
For more information on their ongoing Open House events throughout the year, contact:
Tel: 02 105 1757 / 095 879 4944 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | www.dprep.ac.th