Starfish Education is an integral part of Firetree’s DNA, being the program most directly connected with the work of Dick Haugland. Dick moved to Thailand in 2004 to start a program to help children from ethnic minorities in Northern Thailand learn how to read and write Thai well enough to access public schools, something that at the time was almost impossible for Karen, Mon, Shan, Hmong children.
Under Dr. Nanthaporn Seributra’s leadership – and through the work of over 100 dedicated staff -Starfish has evolved immensely since then, probably beyond Dick’s most optimistic dreams to improve the quality of education available to all children in Thailand.
Starfish’s mission is to provide all children in Thailand with an equal opportunity to access quality education through innovative learning programs and technological solutions that seeks to fill public education gaps through public and private collaboration. We strongly believe in preparing students with the necessary skills and competency for the 21st century.
We work toward achieving our mission by being both education practitioners and advocates for innovation and sharing of best-practices in education. Our direct practice always informs our advocacy and ensures we empathize with teachers and educators about their challenges.
Starfish School is a private non-profit school for students in kindergarten and primary level. The school is located in Maetang District, Chiangmai. Dick and Prae worked together here to incubate learning innovation since 2007 to elevate the quality of education for our students. One of Dick's significant legacies is the “3R Learning Innovation”, or we often call it casually, “Dick Innovation”. It is a collection of math, Thai and English curriculum for kindergarten and primary students. It has a strong emphasis on game-based learning as well as simple instructional design that is proven to be very effective with young children.
The school is dedicated to the Problem-Based Learning approach. The students take ownership of their own learning by solving real-world problems which are relevant to them. The Starfish School is a model school for learning innovation; every year, we host professional development sessions and educational visits for more than 1,000 educators.
Starfish Academy provides 21st-century professional development services to public and private education institutes, school leadership, teachers as well as parents. We focus on whole-school transformation including school administration, teacher professional development, curriculum, assessment, technology integration, learning environment, and last but not least, student learning.
One of the leading programs of Starfish Academy is Starfish Maker. It is a professional development program to develop the capacity of public schools and teachers to implement a makerspace in schools to build 21st-century skills and STEAM learning. We are currently working with more than 120 public schools throughout Thailand and increasingly collaborate with the Ministry of Education in a variety of ways.
Starfish Labz is our online learning platform for teachers and parents. It seeks to address 21st-century learning gaps among teachers and parents to prepare the necessary skills and competencies for their children. We believe that teachers and parents must connect, share and build active learning community to support and educate our children. We partner with leading universities and academic institutes to provide online courses, videos and Face-to-Face workshops, parents and teachers free of charge. We focus on child development, digital technology, real-world problems, STEAM, ethics & morality, social-emotional learning, health & wellness, and special education.