Dalat International School - Sculpting Future-Ready Intellectuals


Dalat International School, founded in 1929 in Dalat, Vietnam, is an American Pre-K-grade 12 school on the island of Penang in the northern region of the West Malaysia peninsula. The school relocated to Penang in 1971 to continue its mission to provide an education for life founded on a Biblical worldview. Dalat now educates more than 700 students from Malaysia and 25+ countries worldwide, and maintains an outstanding boarding program for students in grades 6-12 whose families may live and work outside of Penang. Dalat International School is the only school outside of the United States to achieve exemplary accreditation from the Association of Christian Schools International, and is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

All Dalat students participate in service outreach, helping to demonstrate and model greater understanding and commitment to Servant Leadership. Students entering Dalat must have a good grasp of the English language before being admitted so that they can be successful in the rigorous academic environment. If financial aid is required for a student to attend Dalat International School, the family’s needs will be evaluated on a case-by- case basis.

Dalat employs a professional workforce comprised primarily of American-educated teachers and administrators. The American teaching pedagogy accomplishes goals to prepare students for higher education, serve their communities, and to contribute to the workforce. In recent years, Dalat International School has grown at a pace like no other time in its 90-year history, the largest percentage of growth represented by native Malaysian students who now make up nearly one-third of the student body.

Dalat maintains strong relationships with the families of students by hosting parent and family events, providing parents’ access to campus, and engaging an active Parent-Teacher Organization to support children and teachers. A commitment to excellent communication with families on all levels, including a world-class website and social media presence (www.dalat.org), is a hallmark of Dalat’s administration.


Dalat implemented a campus development plan that has dramatically transformed the beautiful tropical seaside campus. The school was enhanced and strengthened for the future as new purpose-built, multi-story buildings replaced aging and obsolete structures. First to be completed in 2016 was the Center for the Arts, Sciences, Technology, and Learning Education (CASTLE), which includes a large library, science and technology classrooms, computer labs, and student services. In 2017, Dalat completed a new boarding facility called the Lighthouse, housing three separate dormitories for up to 48 students. The third and largest building, the Harbor, includes high school classrooms, administrative offices, a 500-seat auditorium, and accompanying

parking areas. The newest building, The Galley, a cafeteria with a second-story multi-purpose recreation space, will be completed by January of 2021. These new buildings are added to existing single-level Elementary classrooms that surround a courtyard with a playground, a multi-level Middle School building, playing fields, and a large gym.

School Leadership

An active Board of Governors comprised of parents, alumni, and community members oversees Dalat International School. Dalat alumnus and Head of School Karl Steinkamp, and Deputy Head of School Shawna Wood manage daily operations. Three principals (high school, middle school and elementary school) lead their respective divisions.

Strategic Plan

Dalat’s Board of Governors and school leadership are entering the fourth year of a school-wide Strategic Plan that drives the school’s vision for the future. Four primary outcome objectives were identified, including 1.) Authentic Transformation, 2.) Innovative Learners, 3.) Passionate Personnel, and 4.) Intentional Community. Dalat aims to promote authentic community engagement, and attract and develop exceptional Christ-centered educators. Additionally, we will foster spiritual growth, create relevant and innovative learning experiences, and inspire students to have a Biblical and global perspective in order to influence their world.


Dalat’s American education curriculum and instruction provides a broad basis in general education and a strong preparation for entry into university systems worldwide. All students are given ample opportunities within the curricula and through daily extra-curricular programs to explore and develop a variety of interests and skills. In addition to the basic school day, Dalat offers an added optional extended curriculum in each division giving students topics of personal interest to explore.

All grade levels benefit from an active and engaged team of Guidance Counselors who provide academic and personal assistance, as well as a Learning Supports team who aid students that need extra help with learning. Dalat assists advanced English language learners with an English as an Additional Language program.

A deeper dive into Dalat’s American school curricula can be found at https://www.dalat.org/web/curriculum-archive/main-2/.

● Elementary (Preschool – grade 4)

Elementary students are inspired to do their best, think creatively and critically, and to work cooperatively with their peers. Life skills development is important, as they learn to be respectful, responsible, helpful, and safe citizens. As a school, we value holistic education, character development, differentiated instruction, and active learning. In addition to core subjects, students in grades K-4 study music and art, Bible, and physical education.

● Middle School (grades 5-8)

The Middle School years are some of the most formative in the life of a student. Grades 5-8 are key years where students learn to develop healthy relationships with peers, begin to explore diverse interests, and develop skills and habits that will serve them throughout their lives. At Dalat, our goal in these years is to guide Middle Schoolers through the maturing transformation from childhood through their teens and beyond. Middle School students at Dalat receive a well-rounded education, studying core subjects of English, Mathematics, History and Science, plus a wide variety of other subjects to explore. All Middle School students take band, physical education, Bible and art classes, and may take additional electives. Our goal is to present students with quality educational experiences in a diverse array of focus areas.

● High School (grades 9-12)

Dalat’s high school curriculum provides 24 units of credit over four years, culminating in the American high school diploma. The curriculum and instruction provide a broad basis in general education and a strong preparation for university systems worldwide, but that is only the start of the broad array of learning provided to Dalat students. Students may also choose to study Mandarin or Spanish languages.

Dalat kicks off a partnership with Grand Canyon University in the 2020–21 school year to provide qualified high school students enrollment in college courses prior to graduation. GCU offers more than 200 undergraduate and graduate degree programs that are accepted by the vast majority of American colleges. All of these programs challenge high school students with classes and activities to prepare them for post-secondary education in any field they wish to pursue.

Dalat is growing a mission-driven regional outreach program for high school students called IMPACT, designed to introduce and model best practices in 21st century American and Christian outreach. Integrating outreach efforts with organizations already working throughout Southeast Asia gives students life-impacting outcomes, alongside a sense of belonging and contribution.

Boarding & Residence Life

The Dalat boarding community is a home away from home for families who want their students to grow in nurtured independence. Living in the dorms is a great way to make new friends and

learn life skills while living in a supportive and encouraging environment. The home-like atmosphere helps students feel comfortable, secure and well cared for.

Our dorms are family-style, which means each dorm includes both genders and a variety of ages (grades 6 to 12). This creates a close-knit family atmosphere, fosters healthy relationships between dorm students of different ages, and allows siblings to live together in the same dorm. Dorm family-bonding opportunities help students make lasting connections and grow a sense of belonging. Activities from birthday parties, special outings and activities, family devotions and cooking, to service projects, Christmas parties, and an annual dorm retreat make dorm life special. Parents traveling to Penang short-term can stay in with their children in a family apartment.

Available to students in grades 9-12, Life Prep families may choose one-quarter or one-semester options for their students to live in the dorms while developing practical skills guided by adult dorm parents.

Community Service & Leadership Development

All Dalat students engage in active service projects, outreach efforts, and volunteer opportunities throughout the school year to learn team building, how to care for those less fortunate, and ways to impact their communities and the world for good.

Student Care and Share volunteers learn the value of service working throughout the island of Penang and on the mainland with refugees, at orphanages, in local schools and in small rural villages.

Dalat students are encouraged to apply for and serve in leadership positions. American governance models enable students to run and be elected by and serve their classmates by making key decisions through a democratic process. They are guided by advising teachers in every division, with more extensive leadership opportunities available during the high school years.