LEE, Maine — Lee Academy Headmaster Bruce Lindberg will visit South Korea next week to recruit a half-dozen new students for the academy and to finish plans to open the academy’s second Asian school in late August, he said Thursday.
Lindberg also will try to recruit about 200 students for the $11.2 million Daegu International School of Lee Academy being built in Daegu, the country’s third-largest city. He has hired a headmaster and is interviewing Mainers now to fill a dozen teaching positions at the new school, he said.
He said the transition from Maine to South Korea should be easier than moving to the academy’s other sister school, the Shenzhen American International School in Shenzen, a subtropical port city of 12 million in southern China.
“It is an easier transition than with most Asian countries in that it’s more Westernized,” Lindberg said. “There is also a large American population there, with five [U.S.] Army bases in Daegu.
“For coffee drinkers, there is a Dunkin’ Donuts on at least every other block,” he added. “I had lunch at a T.G.I. Friday’s while I was there.”
The Daegu and Shenzen schools are part of Lee Academy’s virtually unprecedented efforts to market American high school education to the Far East while expanding its enrollment of foreign-born students educated in Lee, a small northern Penobscot County town about 10 miles east of Lincoln and Interstate 95.
Lindberg also hopes that the school’s interaction with the Far East will lead to increased Asian investment in Maine and state government involvement in that effort, but that hasn’t happened yet, he has said.
The Shenzhen school has 85 Shenzhen students enrolled in grades one through seven, up from 17 at the school’s opening in September, Lindberg said.
The South Korean government approved the Daegu school in the last week of March after a government committee’s tour of the Lee campus in February.
“Obviously, I was very happy,” Lindberg said. “There’s been a lot work put in on the construction. The building is 70 percent complete. We didn’t want to put it on hold.”
Lindberg will visit Busan, Daegu and Seoul next week. Under South Korean law, no more than 30 percent of the proposed Daegu school’s population can be South Koreans. The rest will be the children of foreign workers, South Korean officials said during their visit.
Having hired a principal at a U.S. Department of Defense school in Daegu to be the Daegu school’s new headmaster, Lindberg anticipates no problems finding American pupils for the kindergarten to grade nine school, he said.
Plans include adding a new grade a year to the new school, and possibly starting a student exchange program between Daegu International and Lee Academy in two years, once the Daegu school has an 11th grade, he said.
Besides Shenzhen, Lindberg signed agreements in July 2009 with Chinese authorities to eventually create high school campuses in two other Chinese cities: Shijiazhuang, a northern city of 9 million southwest of Beijing, and Chengdu, a city of 11 million just south of the center of China.
Those plans are on hold, he said.