Rio De Janeiro, Brazil Report of what it's like to live there - 08/15/15
Personal Experiences from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?
2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?
1st, 3rd (lower school), 6th (middle school)
3. During what years were you affiliated with this school?
4. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?
5. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?
Reputation, sports, proximity to consulate housing
Admissions & Welcome:
1. Are the admissions and placement procedures clearly stated to prospective families, either on the school website or through other means of communication?
Not sure I can be objective, but I found them to be SUPER-helpful to U.S. Consulate families.
2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?
Administration & School Procedures:
1. Describe the general climate of the grade level that you teach or your child attends:
Nurturing and friendly, open to new students and focused on the children being comfortable and happy. My kids loved EARJ and still speak about their friends and teachers from the school.
2. For the following attributes, down to the next blank box, grade your experience at the school on a scale of A (excellent) to F (unacceptable/terrible) and provide comments:<br><br>Overall fair and equitable treatment of all students and families:
3. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?
Excellent-- through power school and frequent teacher emails. This place was much more like the U.S. than our current post. We are blessed in that regard in Rio. We had caring teachers (Brazilian and American alike) who really got to know us and our kids.
4. Aside from school fees, are there required expenses such as uniforms, laptops/tablets, musical instruments, or field trips that parents are expected to cover? What are the approximate costs?
Laptops (bring your own) and school lunches (but you can send lunch with your child).
5. Services for gifted students who need academic challenge and students with learning difficulties:
Not sure, since our kids fall within the "average" range. I knew a few Foreign Service families who were unhappy because they thought the school was not challenging enough for their "high-achieving kids". That said, I knew a few Consulate families with truly brilliant children who never complained and found the teachers very accommodating.
6. Availability and variety of after-school activities for various ages:
This was hard due to traffic, but our daughter did get to play basketball after school at EARJ, and the school PTA (not the consulate) worked to provide busing to help kids have the opportunity to participate. Kids who wanted to participate were able to do so.
7. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:
Some teachers pushed the kids, others not so much.
8. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):
9. Administration-parent communication:
A for elementary principal and secretary-- she was great, too. Get to know her!
C for middle school.
A for headmaster (new-- Mr. Sherman)
A for the nurse too (she really helped us)
10. Teacher-student communication:
11. Academics, answer the following questions "yes" or "no" with an explanation if appropriate:<br><br>Are there any classes or subjects where students are not appropriately challenged?
Yes, the kids are challenged, but only if they choose to be. Everyone wants the children to be happy and feel good about themselves, so they don't push them too hard.
12. Does your child receive any special-needs assistance or instruction at this school? If yes, what types? Who provides services and where:
13. Do you believe the special-needs assistance is appropriate and fills your needs? Explain:
14. Does the gifted and talented program meet the needs of students? Please explain:
15. Does the school offer a wide variety of elective or non-core classes such as art, music, and drama?
16. Please describe any classes or programs that you believe are missing:
Swimming-- but the school is in a rain forest, so I understand why that won't work
17. Are there academic requirements such as trips or other activities that cost money in addition to school fees?
Yes, although I don't think they are required. We paid about 1000 US dollars for our daughter's trips, and she also did a basketball tournament. We were in Brazil when it was expensive, so this was a factor that led to some families not doing the end of the year trips. I will say that in our case, each time she traveled, she was well cared for and had a rich experience. She got sick on one trip, and the athletic director (a woman!) carried her on her back. I won't ever forget how well the people at EARJ cared for my children.
18. What activities do you feel are missing?
Again, swimming, but EARJ won't be able to get a pool.
19. Have your children participated in the activities offered? If no, please indicate why:
20. Does the school provide appropriate assistance to new students?
21. Please describe any problem areas or challenges in social interaction at the school:
The school has new director, and I hope he addresses the challenge of creating a central mission of high achievement and shares that with the community.
Academics & Resources:
1. What personal or academic counseling resources are available at this school? Is there a dedicated college counselor at the school? Is he/she familiar with universities worldwide?
Counseling was available, and I knew the counselors at each grade. They reached out and were available for conferences.
2. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?
My kids always had books to read.
3. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?
The kids had to bring their own device.
4. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?
5. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?
16 to 1. There is a full-time teacher and aide in every class.
6. Are Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses available in upper grades? If this is an IB school, is the full diploma required of all students?
No experience with either.
7. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?
8. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?
9. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?
10. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
11. What extra-curricular activities (including sports) are available at this school? Have your children participated in these activities? What activities do you feel are missing at the school?
Yes, many sports.
Social & Emotional Well-Being:
1. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?
Yes, my kids had Brazilian, Swedish, Finnish, French, Colombian, Canadian and American friends.
2. Are there are any problems with exclusionary behavior, cliques, or bullying at this school? Please describe any problems your children may have experienced in this area.
No, not that I could tell.
1. What is the greatest strength of this school?
LOVE FOR THE CHILDREN, kindness, a warm and caring school. My son had an emergency on the bus and needed to be rushed to the hospital (ER) for an allergic reaction. The teacher assistant found him and knew immediately to take him to the ER. Both my son's teacher and teaching assistant waited at the hospital with my son until I arrived and remained there in the waiting room until we were released. The teachers care so much about the kids.
2. Greatest challenge?
This is a super laid-back school that didn't push as hard as I thought they could at times.
3. Would you choose this school again? Why?
Yes. After being at a new post and seeing how unhappy my kids are, I would go back there again. I chose a strict school after EARJ, thinking that would motivate my kids, but it didn't. They did well and were happy (in general) at EARJ because they felt accepted and loved. If you are trying to get your kid into Harvard, stick with Asian posts where there is a ton of pressure. If your kid just needs to feel loved and safe-- give EARJ a try. They appeared to be tightening standards and focusing on teachers' professional development when we left. Brazilians are very kind to kids, and that shows at EARJ.