It’s the first question families ask when they hear about BASIS International School Bangkok. The reality is that the location is intentional and explaining the logic behind it is part of a bigger story. Forty years ago, when the Thongsima family started real estate development in Tonburi, the intention was to energise and improve the quality of life for those ‘South of the river’. It began with the Nakornthon Hospital, progressed to the Park Village Service Apartments and then came the Central Rama 2, shopping centre. These projects were intentionally selected, designed, and built to create more resources and opportunities for the residents. A few decades later a business meeting, involving investors Pensiri Thongsima, and her husband Jonathan Schwimmer, focused on what was essential to sustain a vibrant and active community spirit in the area.
Their takeaway was healthcare, education and recreation. They already had two out of three so establishing a school, became the focus. Due to their passion for education, they didn’t want just any school. Jonathan, MD of ST Thammaporn, investment company, said “families looking for a great school for their children were forced to relocate or spend most of their day driving. Building a school was easy but building the right school was the challenge and then, amazingly, fate played a hand.” In 2016, Jonathan’s cousin in the United States enrolled his daughter in BASIS Independent School Manhattan. They chose this tuition-based school, after painstaking research. They reckoned this was as good as it could get.
Curiosity led Jonathan and Pensiri to investigate. There was another BASIS Curriculum School in Shenzhen, China, so they arranged a trip. Jonathan smiles as he tells the story. “It was inspiring! We realised that BASIS was unlike any other school that we had encountered.”The BASIS Curriculum School model is unique. It requires all Subject Expert teachers to have a degree in their area of expertise. Furthermore, they have a two teacher model in the Primary grades. A Subject Expert teacher is paired with a Learning Expert teacher, who has a degree in Early Childhood Education. It is this pairing that creates dynamic and exciting lessons at that level and ultimately instills a genuine love for learning.
Captivated they embarked on forming a partnership with BASIS Curriculum schools who have some of the most successful schools in the world. Currently they have 7 of the top 10 High Schools in the United States (as ranked by the US News and World Report), and the aim is to take the school in Bangkok to that same level. Elizabeth Thies, Head of School, said, “I have been with BASIS Curriculum Schools for ten years and I have never seen a campus that offers students more opportunities than this one. The relationship between ST Thommaporn and ourselves is strong and built on our shared passion and vision for education.” Sitting on 22 rai of land, parents will have the space to watch their children participate in the many extracurricular activities BISB offers.
All BASIS International School Bangkok students will be required to take a Thai Language and Culture course from Kindergarten through their Senior year and the school’s authentic design will reflect and incorporate the rich Thai culture. The design also incorporates an origami themed façade and traditional Baan Thai architecture. Community learning spaces will provide students and staff the opportunity to collaborate in different locations which is particularly important in the Primary years when they meet for their projectbased ‘Connections’ class. This is when students work through problems by drawing on content learned in their core subjects. This ongoing approach helps reinforce foundational skills and keeps students excited and engaged.
BASIS International School Bangkok might be known as the school “South of the river”, but the future of BASIS International School Bangkok is far reaching and the location, combined with a highly successful curriculum is really part of what makes this school special. When the decision to build was made, Pensiri and Jonathan were the parents of a 2 year old, with another baby on the way, and they knew immediately that they wanted their children to attend a BASIS School. Jonathan said, ‘It’s still amazing that we pulled this off. It took almost ten years but in February 2017, we finally broke ground on our dream for Bang Khun Thian. BASIS International School Bangkok became a reality. We cannot wait to open the doors in August 2019 and introduce something really unique to our home city!