Scoring Ace marks
Coming from a family of high achievers, Debbie Hung, founder of Ace Academy, hopes to share the keys to success with others. Seeing the children of her husband’s sisters all attending top institutions, Hung learned that the secret to success in learning is to learn through experience and motivate students to learn.
“I started off with science workshops, where students learn hands-on through experiments. We start with young children by stimulating them in areas of science, maths and technology that will inspire a love of learning. Our mission is to inspire a passion for thinking, learning and creativity in the pursuit of enduring understanding and success in school and beyond,” Hung says.
Ace Academy is looking to employ 10 to 15 maths and science teachers to handle increasing demand for its programme. “Currently we have three outlets located in Central, Causeway Bay and Kowloon Tong. We also go into schools to offer our programmes as an extra-curricular activity,” says Hung.
The academy is looking for experienced educators with Western education backgrounds.
“We are open to recruiting talent from around the world as long as they are fluent English speakers. We want teachers who are caring and love talking to children.
“It is important for them to have been educated in the West because they will be able to fit in with our education philosophy. We don’t want our teachers to provide model answers, we want them to be able to get kids interested in learning,” says Hung.
Gerald Emmerich, from the US, is a maths and science teacher at the academy. Some may question what a former aerospace scientist has to offer the primary school science and maths curriculum. But the two are a perfect fit because at Ace Academy students are taught to think out of the box.
“At Ace we get kids to learn by experience. Local kids have read a lot about different topics in science and maths but have not experienced them. In class, we do chemistry experiments and solve practical maths problems. Kids not only do calculations, they have to read a lot of information, decide what is relevant and solve the problem using maths.
The practical problem-solving approach helps their English and decision-making, as well as arousing their interest in maths. It is quite different from the maths that they have learned before,” he says.
Emmerich’s advice about teaching at Ace is to know the materials well and help students stay motivated. “You will be surprised by how much the kids know, so you have to be well-prepared. Also, many kids come after school for lessons. They might be quite tired so it is important to keep things interesting to ensure they are motivated to learn,” he says.
Besides providing students knowledge in maths and science, Ace Academy also helps local students prepare to apply to overseas boarding schools. With an increasing number of local parents lacking confidence in the new 3-3-4 education system, more are considering sending their children to boarding schools.
“Many Year Nine and Ten students are approaching us for advice on attending prep school. A much higher percentage of students attending prep school are able to get into top universities such as Ivy League schools. Local families are keen to seek advice on what is best for their children’s future,” Hung says.
Wells Hansen, who has more than 20 years’ experience as an educator and test developer, was recruited to provide prep school application support.
“The first step to prep school is to take the SSAT [Secondary School Admission Test]. I want kids to feel confident and relaxed and demonstrate their skills in the SSAT. I will explain to kids how the test is designed and help them understand how to showcase their knowledge and talent through their answers,” he says.
Sending a child to a boarding school is a family decision and Hansen spent a great deal of time trying to understand the needs of children and parents. “I talk to children and their parents separately and together, to find out about their children’s dreams and goals. I want to help them make the best decision,” he says.