This Badger alum opened a school halfway around the world

Credit: American School of English, Math, and Sciences


By Christina Lorey

January 22, 2024

We hear a lot of complaints about Wisconsin schools, students, and the challenges they face, but this story should help put into perspective just how lucky we are.

Year after year, America ranks No. 1 among the world’s best school systems. 8,000 miles away, the Philippines ranks 77th, but lands among the Top 10 worst when it comes to math in particular.

That’s why Chris Austria, a UW alum and part-time Milwaukee local, opened the American School of English, Math, and Sciences there. We caught up with him (via email, of course; flying to the Philippines isn’t in our current budget!) to learn more:

Describe your school in one sentence.

The American School of English, Math, and Sciences embeds American Common Core standards into its rigorous curriculum to equip Naga City’s underserved youth with high caliber STEM and English skills.

When and why did you open it?

My wife and I opened the school in March of 2017 because we saw the need. The Philippines has one of the worst school systems in the world.

What’s been the most rewarding part?

This may sound cheesy and cliché but witnessing the students’ academic growth and success. Underserved children with perfect command of English are rarely seen in the Philippines.

ON THE GROUND: Inside the Philippines’ American School of English, Math, and Sciences

What’s been the most surprising?

The high level of acceptance that we received from the community and the school district.

Did you bring any “Wisconsin” touches to your school?

My wife and I brought Wisconsin’s strong tradition of progressive education. We emphasize student-centered approaches, hands-on learning, and critical thinking.

What’s your next goal?

To eventually have one of our students graduate from UW-Madison.

RELATED: Every Wisconsin School District–Ranked. Where Does Yours Land?


  • Christina Lorey

    Christina is an Edward R. Murrow-winning journalist and former producer, reporter, and anchor for TV stations in Madison and Moline. When she’s not writing or asking questions, you can find her volunteering with Girls on the Run, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and various mental health organizations.



Local News

Related Stories
Share This