A Trailblazer Empowering HK’s Educational Community
With an aim for social advancement change amongst local communities, while offering high-quality education with excellent resources, a dream was founded. A passionate and philanthropist leader, Joseph Fung is an action taker, who has transformed his vision into a reality by founding the Fairchild Canadian Academy (FCA), a center of excellence that aims to cultivate curiosity, cultivate, and confidence in every child through the use of the Reggio Emilia approach to facilitate learning.
The Initial Days
Joseph grew up in a Canadian neighborhood and was shaped by the Canadian outdoors. He was a lucky lad who was surrounded by a national park in his backyard. Initially, he refused to acknowledge his privileged background and desperately tried to set himself apart. He chased after esoteric challenges, be it in sports like ice diving, ski racing, or work like agricultural research, quantitative finance, and more, and came to a realization. He was in a position where he had an ample amount of resources that he could organize and make effective changes in the communities he believed in. Joseph had then set himself up with a mission to bring a paradigm shift in the education sector as that laid the foundation for every child while growing up.
“And early education was something I see that requires a clear vision and long-term planning. I’m not an educator, but I see myself as someone who can build sustainable frameworks for qualified and passionate educators/researchers with a shared vision in play-based Early Childhood Education.”
An Overview about FCA
FCA was established in the year 2016 by the Fairchild Group in Hong Kong, with its early childhood education center, Fairchild Junior Academy opening in Tin Hau, and Hong Kong Education Bureau licensed kindergarten, Fairchild Kindergarten opening in Sai Ying Pun. The schools revolve around Reggio Emilia-inspired early childhood education programs for children from eight months to six years old in Hong Kong.
The learning approach at FCA has an inquiry focus through providing children with a sensory-rich and play-focused environment with learning experiences in creative arts, music, and movement, STEM, and nature exploration, children can achieve life-long skills in an authentic and meaningful way.
Guided by the Reggio Emilia approach, FCA uses the environment as the third teacher. It offers a spacious and welcoming learning environment for young learners. The teachers allow children to follow their interests and be engaged in a wide range of learning experiences to promote their development. It also envisions to “bring the outdoors in” with the use of lots of natural light, wood, and open-ended resources including sand, water, soil, and quality teacher materials to pique children’s interests.
The school places great emphasis on nurturing all-around children and preparing them with skills for the future. It works closely with educators and partners, including professors and technology startups from leading universities to implement research-backed early-year programs and technologies to drive education innovation in Hong Kong.
The Achievements Corner
Fairchild Kindergarten has been awarded “Top 10 Most Valuable Preschool in Hong Kong” by The Knowledge Review. FCA’s schools are also the nominees for Hong Kong Education Awards, including “Kindergarten of the Year”, “Best Student-Centered School” and “Most Socially Responsible School”. The best rewards are from the children and families themselves.
Overcoming Challenges for an Incredible Educational Transformation
FCA started its schools six years ago at the peak of Hong Kong’s competitive and restrictive environment. At this time, many families/schools were not familiar with Reggio Emilia and hence FCA decided to spend time growing this approach. It strives to be a leading light in sharing the philosophy of the Reggio Emilia Approach in Hong Kong, through continuing to build bridges to support the Hong Kong and Macau Reggio Emilia Study Group as part of a professional learning community. As a key member of the Group, it helps to arrange, host, and organize regular meetings to promote and disseminate knowledge about the Reggio Emilia approach in Hong Kong and into the Greater Bay Area. True Reggio is not easily packaged, and a lot of it is demonstrated by practical application.
A Team of Dedicated and Empowered Educators
All educators in the school understand the responsibility of their classroom and students. FCA grants more personalized learning within their framework than most schools. But with more responsibility, they need to demonstrate their pedagogical rationale and share their professional development pathways with the community. The teachers are encouraged to be more flexible and challenge their classroom as a result to bring the best outcome. The staff at FCA is highly experienced and committed to serving every student with utmost holistic development.
Joseph believes that educators play an important role in shaping the students hence it comes down to finding the right community of educators that have an inherent sense of curiosity and willingness to seek self-improvement. HK is a dynamic community and having global research experts conduct studies/partnerships with FCA has expressed the school has a unique model that scales but maintains the context of the community.
An Insightful Advice for Educational Aspirants
- Reputational growth is key and there are zero shortcuts
- Don’t be a trend-chaser in HK
- Be practical on financial planning and see if your long-term vision requires intermediate milestones. You don’t want to be halfway to your goal and your cash runs out as operations in HK are expensive.
Joseph’s Major Sources of Motivation
Motivation is an important element of success. It drives every individual to pursue their dreams and climb the ladder of growth, achievements, and passion. So, let’s take a look at what motivates Joseph:
● Carolyn Edwards’ Hundred Languages of Children. It’s a thought-provoking book that lays out how education as a framework should evolve contextually over major demographic and political paradigms. Made me consider how I can add value in the long run, rather than chasing after trends.
● My daughters, a good education needs a very personal approach and relies on human communities. Pulls me back and grounds me from a VC research and macro-based perspective.
The Valuable Parents Testimonials
Here are some Testimonials of FCA’s students and parents who have expressed their honest feedback about the school.
“Kaylee has been going to Fairchild Junior Academy (FJA) and Fairchild Kindergarten (FK) for over three years now. This was one of the best decisions we have ever made for our daughter as we are extremely happy with the quality of education that the teachers and staff brought for our child… We were looking for a place where our child can blossom in a respectful environment, where she can develop naturally, at her own will and pace, and be guided by teachers who are there to learn and discover new things with her in a warm and nurturing environment, and Fairchild was perfect for us…Fairchild was outstanding because of their ability to execute the Reggio Emilia approach faithfully and yet adaptive to modern times… Kaylee has blossomed from a cautious, observant infant, to a relatively reserved and sensitive toddler, to now a confident, happy-go-lucky, and independent preschooler attending FK’s dual language class…This is what we call true early childhood education.”
“We learned about Fairchild at an International Kindergarten Fair, being impressed by Principal Yau’s heartfelt passion in early-childhood development and her charismatic leadership in ensuring delivery of the School’s philosophy via her team, and our girl Ally has been with Fairchild since accompanied playgroup in September 2019. Now Ally is in Fairchild’s K1 Dual (Bilingual) class. We have seen Ally grow in all aspects: from a shy girl to a sociable one where she greets her peers and has fun playing with them in class; from a timid toddler to a brave one where she explores different ways of playing around the school’s treehouse and climbing facilities; from a rather self-centered child to a compassionate one that is keen to help others.
Being flexible and accommodating, the Fairchild Team has contributed tremendously to nurturing Ally’s growth by:
● Facilitating her development in social etiquette and enhancing her expressions and communication skills.
● Providing constant constructive feedback on delicate observations of her achievements and improvements.
● Ensuring variety in educators’ style for well-rounded interactions.
● Encouraging creativity and trial-and-error in exploring new things for building her self-confidence and curiosity.
● Fostering values formation, self-discipline awareness, and knowledge accumulation via situation-based scenarios, a variety of books, and visual aids.