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 Lisu, Lahu, Mon, Shan and Hmong children, among other groups.
Under Firetree’s umbrella and Dr. Nanthaporn Seributra’s leadership – and through the work of over 90 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 Mae Taeng District, Chiang Mai. 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”, which is a collection of math, Thai and English curriculum for kindergarten and primary students. It emphasizes game-based learning as well as simple instructional design that is proven to be very effective with young children.
The school is also dedicated to the Problem-Based Learning approach. 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 leaders, teachers as well as parents. We focus on teacher professional development, curriculum, assessment, technology integration, learning environment, whole-school transformation including school administration, and last but not least, student learning and child development.
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 that cover 18,000 students and 6,000 teachers, 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.
2020 has yielded a wave of momentum for Starfish Labz, and we have jumped to nearly 96,000 registered users and 270,000 visitors per month. As of June 2020, Labz contains 112 courses, 251 videos and 156 articles.
Starfish Class is another facet of our EdTech approach to learning management. It is a free classroom resource tool designed specifically to help teachers assess their students’ skills and manage their classrooms conveniently. Teachers can set up a student list, keep up with current tasks through a classroom activity feed, assess a number of skills for each individual student, share data and reporting online with ease, and collaborate with other teachers to keep track of student performance and activities. Starfish Class is now available at the iOS App Store and Google Play, free of charge.
Finally, Starfish Hub is a working space in Bangkok where partner organizations in the fields of education management, Edtech and education innovation can meet, share ideas, and work together to improve their programs. It has a variety of resources available for use, including a media production room, workspaces, meeting rooms, and even accommodation areas for those visiting for training or events.