When TC alum Joohee Son (Ed.D. 13) and her husband, Alex Yoocheol Choi, set out to establish their very own K-12 school, they had one goal in mind: to create a tech-savvy, Christian learning environment where students could improve upon their critical thinking and English language learning skills.

“I had been running a language institute in Seoul, Korea, for over seven years and found there was a strong necessity for teaching ‘thinking skills,’ so students could communicate more efficiently in English,” shares Son. “I decided to pursue my doctorate in Instructional Technology at Teachers College so I could embed these thinking skills in my curriculum through a cognitive approach.”

Son shares that her time at Teachers College was “instrumental” in informing her dynamic curriculum back in Seoul. “Professor Ellen Meier helped me better understand technology policy along with putting theory into practice,” Son adds, noting that she interned at TC’s Center for Technology and School Change, an experience that shaped her unique perspective on international education.

Using her valuable tech skills along with steadfast support from her husband, Son opened up Thinking Christian International School  (TCIS) in 2020 amidst the challenging learning landscape presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. “It was a huge project. My husband, an architect, built the school from the ground up. We had to delay our grand opening by almost four months and started with merely one student that attended kindergarten that year,” shares Son. 

Yet despite such challenges, TCIS is now up and running and has enrolled over 60 new students just this year. Each classroom is equipped with smart TVs, tablets, and the latest tech to help students in their language learning journey. Son has even championed access for parents to be more involved in their child’s education through an online student information system. “The system allows teachers to better communicate with parents regarding academic performance and social behavior. Parents can easily find daily scheduling, curriculum, and course evaluations too.”  

Perhaps the most remarkable initiative at TCIS is the school’s Center for Education and Technology (CET), which was inspired by Son’s doctoral work and research with Meier. 

“We patented a specialized speaking feedback system, TEOS (Teaching English Online School), and now use it to provide feedback on academic progress to over 140 elementary school students located in remote areas from Seoul.” The system's perks include real-time feedback in the native language around language-learning specifics based on accuracy, fluency, and thinking skills. “Students can even upload a speech and watch it back in real-time with teacher feedback, which has warranted an amazing outcome in overall learning improvement.”

“The TEOS system helps students reflect on their own strengths and weaknesses of their speaking and teaching performance,” adds Son, noting that the school is soon planning to deploy a teacher training program for in-service teachers.

“My hope is that we can continue to provide a good quality of international education to students not only in Korea but in other Asian countries too.” Among just a few of Son’s future pursuits include integrating more specialized, “project-based thinking projects” into class, Christian character programs with music and arts based on Bible teachings. “I am thankful for my time at Teachers College, which has helped me pursue my vision for international education with resilience.”