Definition of learning

At Keystone Academy, learning is a life-long journey rooted in heritage, outward in perspective and framed by our five shared values. Learning encompasses the discovery of new knowledge, skills, and understanding, allowing for creativity and connections in a local and global context. This journey empowers our learners to develop character and fosters a joy of learning in experiences that occur both inside and outside the classroom.

In line with the our Definition of Learning, and in response to COVID-19, effective learning in the Middle School is:

Dynamic and challenging

Teachers and students interact in Live Lessons or face-to-face in rigorous and engaging learning activities.

Varied and contains different approaches

Teachers and students alike leverage different approaches to teaching and learning, and choose a range of appropriate strategies and technologies to allow for many levels of interaction.

Holistic and balanced

School and home work together to provide a healthy balance of activities in online and face-to-face learning environments. Socio-emotional health is at the center of the advisory and residential programs.

Learning Focused on process, as much as outcomes

Continued use of formative assessments, feedback, and reflection elicits student learning in the varied learning modes and circumstances we may face.

Inclusive and personalized

Teachers in their roles as advisors and course instructors make personal connections with students online in individual, class, and large group meetings.

Experiential, where connections are made to real life

Face-to-face and online learning offer opportunities to connect learning with home, community, and the world.

An individual pursuit as well as a collaborative process

Students develop as empowered learners, navigating face-to-face and online learning experiences gracefully, developing independent work habits while at the same time still sharing the growth experience with others.

Committed to character and community

In all learning scenarios, students are a part of the Keystone community, demonstrating Keystone values while developing unique insight into self as well as reaching out to serve others.


Keystone Academy’s initial response to COVID-19 focused on acting promptly after the school’s closure to continue the teaching and learning process for students. Our faculty and staff responded creatively and resolutely in support of learning, taking advantage of our strong technological infrastructure.

No one could have predicted at the time that the situation would continue for this long. We have come to the realization that online learning will likely be a reality for some time to come. With this in mind, we need to continue thinking about the quality of our program and make decisions about what will define online learning at our school now.

Not surprisingly, the dedication and professionalism of our teachers have resulted in phenomenal growth. Colleagues are sharing strategies and tools, making the experience for students much more valuable.

Because it is highly likely that the 2020-21 school year will be impacted by COVID-19, we are contemplating three scenarios: Distance Learning, Blended Learning, and Conventional Learning.

Three Learning Scenarios

Keystone Academy anticipates three scenarios each with its own mode of operating. Planning with the three scenarios in mind is crucial to making any transitions as seamless as possible for students, teachers and parents as circumstances change. The three scenarios are:

1. Distance Learning

Distance Learning serves several key functions within the recent reality, providing a platform for education when the school campus is closed. In this scenario, students and teachers work remotely from home and connect virtually by using the platforms established for this purpose. Teachers meet students online during the regularly scheduled classes on Live Lessons and at additional times as needed. This scenario is typically associated with higher levels of risk of virus transmission (levels 1 & 2).

2. Blended Learning

The Blended Learning model is a combination of on-campus face-to-face interactions with teachers who are in Beijing, and virtual Live Lessons from teachers not currently in Beijing. In this scenario, the campus is open, and many students and teachers are on campus. However, some teachers and students might be outside of Beijing or China due to government and travel restrictions. Teachers not in Beijing work with a Teacher Partner who supports learning face-to-face in the classroom. This scenario is typically associated with a medium risk of virus transmission (levels 2 & 3).

3. Conventional Learning

When students and teachers are all able to be on campus, we are able to deliver our program in our customary manner or with varying degrees of modification. These modifications are based on the level of risk of virus transmission. Essential elements of Distance Learning are used to support and enhance our program. This scenario is typically associated with lower levels of risk (levels 3 & 4).


Meredith Phinney

Meredith Phinney is Head of Middle School at Keystone. She has been teaching English literature for over 18 years.



Terry Linton

Terry Linton is the Assistant Head of Middle School. He is an experienced international educator, and Keystone is his fourth IB World School.



Gao Hongwei

Hongwei Gao has been an IB educator for more than seventeen years. She is an MYP and DP workshop leader and a TOK examiner.