Tegucigalpa, Honduras Report of what it's like to live there - 07/17/19

Personal Experiences from Tegucigalpa, Honduras

School Name: American School of Tegucigalpa

Tegucigalpa, Honduras 07/17/19

Background Information:

1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?

Parent.

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2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?

2018-2019 - Grades 2 and 4 (2 kids)
Will attend for another 2-3 years (2019 - 2022)

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3. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?

Government

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4. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?

There are other available schools. We selected this one due to its location, after-school activities w/ busing, special services (enrichment classes for advanced child and counseling services for child with anxiety), and similarity with previous schools my children have attended. We also wanted to provide our children an opportunity to immerse in a school with Honduran children.

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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?

We completed the whole process except for testing, in-person in one visit. The testing was extensive for our oldest (Gr. 4), but did ensure that she was appropriately placed in reading and math groups within her class.

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2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?

The school does host some "back to school" type events, but many took place during the day which was difficult for two working parents. Most of the integration took place naturally through the classes themselves and the Whats App groups associated with each class.

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Administration & School Procedures:

1. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?

There are MANY different means used by the school and teachers to communicate information. There is a newsletter that arrives by email from the school and individual emails when needed. Each elementary class has a website where all information and assignments are posted weekly by the teachers. Some teachers also use ClassDojo to share information and photos.

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2. 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?

Uniforms are required. Students are also required to provide supplies for the year (list provided and you can buy individually or through the school book store). Elementary students need daily access to a laptop or a tablet at home to complete homework assignments on various learning apps. Some minor expenses in elementary for local field trips.

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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?

We have one child who tested into enrichment courses (reading and math) and one child receiving counseling services for anxiety.

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2. Is there before and/or after-school daycare available? What are the costs?

There are no before school activities. There is a wide range of after-school activities that cost about US$100/trimester (music, arts, athletics, languages). Children of U.S. embassy families can use an after-school activity bus for transport home which is HUGE in households with two working parents.

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3. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?

Elementary library is very good with updated titles. The elementary library recently extended hours on Fridays so that parents can go check out books for the weekend.

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4. What are the technology requirements for students? Do they need their own laptops/ipads? How is technology integrated into the classroom and homework?

Elementary students will need access every day to a tablet or laptop to complete homework assignments.

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5. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?

IT resources are very up to date.

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6. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?

Elementary kids have PE twice a week and "houses" once a week which usually involves physical activities. There are covered courts, a full gym, and a very large turf field. No tennis courts or pool.

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7. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?

All classes have a 20 student max in elementary school and each class has one teacher and one teacher's assistant.

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8. Are students generally challenged appropriately by the curriculum? Please describe any particular strengths or weaknesses in this area. Do you have any thoughts how the curriculum is applied and implemented at this school?

Our kids are very different but were both appropriately challenged. Teachers individualize assignments based on students abilities. Gifted students are pulled out for enrichment classes in reading and math when they qualify.

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9. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?

We felt homework was appropriate but perhaps too much of it was online.

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10. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?

Elementary kids have music and art standard and can choose additional after-school electives in these areas if interested.

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11. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?

English language capabilities are INCREDIBLY strong with all teachers and staff.

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12. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

Our 4th grader tested into enrichment classes in reading and math. The school uses MAP testing to place students in these classes along with a recommendation from the classroom teacher.

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13. What services are available for students with learning disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

Our second grader saw the elementary counselor regularly for anxiety. The school was incredible working with our therapist (not associated with the school) to design appropriate accommodations for our son that allowed him to fully participate in a completely normal classroom setting.

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14. 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?

There is a wide range of activities available after school and on weekends. My kids participated in drama, athletics, and karate.

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Social & Emotional Well-Being:

1. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?

The school is probably about 96% Honduran nationals but our kids have had no problem socializing in the school. While our kids have more "American" friends, they also have local friends that they play with on weekends. The school is very good about ensuring that English is the only language spoken, so our non-Spanish speaking kids had no problem. The level of English for Honduran students is INCREDIBLY high so language has not been a barrier.

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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.

While we heard rumors before arriving about bullying, we had ZERO experiences with this and have not heard of any bullying in the elementary grades since we've been at the school.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What letter grade (ranging from A, excellent, to F, fail) would you assign to this school based on your overall experience? Would you choose it again?

A! We'd chose AST again and plan to spend 4 years at the school.

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2. Please describe some of your child's/children's highlights and challenges during their time at this school.

The highlight for both kids was the quick integration this past year.

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3. Please tell us anything else you think prospective parents and students should know about this school. Thanks for your contribution!

See the school for yourself, talk to parents who have students at the school, and ground truth "information" you receive from people who do not have kids at the school.

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