St. Johnsbury Academy – Jeju
Our Sister School: St. Johnsbury Academy Jeju
In 2017, St. Johnsbury Academy Jeju opened on Jeju Island, South Korea, which is sometimes called “the Hawaii of Korea,” as part of a “Global Education City” of companion boarding schools from the US, Britain, and Canada.
SJA Jeju was conceived on the model of SJA in Vermont, with the same mission and Three Promises, the same “Hilltopper” identity, the same ethos and motos, including “Character, Inquiry, Community,” emblazoned across the edifice of their glass and steel performing arts center. Besides their architecture, the biggest difference between our two schools is the fact that Jeju serves students in grades K-12, so there are elementary school and middle school divisions in addition to the high school. Otherwise, the school’s goals for academics, character, and community life are the same although it operates independently.
During the 2023 spring semester, after a pause due to Covid, we were able to host five students from SJA Jeju as part of our exchange student program. Being in the United States and part of our community is opening their worlds and ours in wonderful ways. One of our SJA students, Haram Yoo ’25, spoke a bit about her experience, “Being able to live and study in the US, specifically in our sister school, is a very rare opportunity. I know it is essential to have many experiences, so I challenged myself to apply for the chance to be selected. Prior to coming to SJA, I heard the classes were very high-quality, participation was considered very important, and it was hard to get a high GPA.Moreover, I heard food and dorm life were very different from Korea. Initially, I was worried that it would be hard to adapt to the new environment. But so far, my experience has been good. The friends I have made, and teachers here empower me whenever I face difficulties. The variety of classes offered here is different than in Korea, and I’m enjoying my first dorm life experience in America. The independence is new and fun. If I were to give advice to students at SJA Jeju, I would tell them to apply without any hesitation. It’s not easy to be this far away from home for a long-term stay in another country, but you learn a lot, and the experiences here cannot happen without coming in person. I will never forget my time here.”
Another student, Junyoung “Jay” Kim ’25, is taking a digital design class in addition to his full academic academic load. “Students in Mr. Shea’s Digital Media class have been instrumental in helping to produce some of our school’s marketing material, including the prom and graduation tickets. For a video project, Jay took our belltower logo and turned it into an animation where the bell swings and rings. It’s great to see these kids learning while embracing all that happens here,” said Director of Communications Steve Legge.
Both schools are working together to find ways in which we can connect and collaborate to enhance our already established exchange programs. There is so much possibility in this relationship–to broaden our educational and cultural reach and expand the impact of an SJA experience for students. Associate Headmaster John Lenzini is co-chairing a Joint Committee for Cooperation between the two schools alongside Matt Riniker who is the SJA Jeju Director of Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning, to think about the potential for connection and about concrete ways we can make that connection happen. John Lenzini said, “The opportunity to convene a joint committee between our schools, with the express aim of creatively expanding programmatic collaboration is exciting. We are endeavoring to create opportunities for our students and teaching faculty alike, and I am looking forward to our first joint meeting and the direction this committee will take.”
To learn more about St. Johnsbury Academy Jeju, please visit their website at www.sjajeju.kr.