Tegucigalpa, Honduras Report of what it's like to live there - 08/26/13
Personal Experiences from Tegucigalpa, Honduras
School Name: Discovery School
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?
Nursery - Kindergarten.
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)?
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?
2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?
A -- Again, Discovery is a very welcoming environment to new students. The high ratio of expat students mean there is a fair amount of turnover each year and so they are used to having new students.
Administration & School Procedures:
1. Describe the general climate of the grade level that you teach or your child attends:
The Discovery School is a wonderful, warm, truly international school in Tegucigalpa. Class sizes range from 10-14 students and there is a strong focus on arts and academnics. While there are tons of benefits to this smaller school, its size does limit its ability to offer a strong after-school activities program and sports are not an emphasis. There are plenty of fabulous acitivities for kids outside of school, but you have to be able to transport them.
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:
A -- Expats comprise of close to 40% of Discovery School as opposed to 1% of the other main schools in Tegucigalpa. There is a strong emphasis on community for both students and parents and so we have really enjoyed friendships with both expat and Honduran families.
3. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?
A -- This probably depends on the teachers, but I have had 3 and have had good communication with all. The school utilizes blogs to share weekly needs/plans/announcements. My teachers have been easily accessible and responsive by email,phone and text.
4. Services for gifted students who need academic challenge and students with learning difficulties:
B-- there is no special program for either to my knowledge, but the small class sizes allow for differentiation in the classroom.
5. Availability and variety of after-school activities for various ages:
C-- As mentioned above, this is an area the school is constantly trying to improve. In 2013, they have outsourced a sports program that meets twice a week and covers skill sets for all sports as opposed to focusing on one sport. This has been very popular with elementary and younger kids.
6. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:
A -- The school has adopted the common curriculum utilized by most states.
7. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):
A -- My kids are young but most families seem happy with the appropriateness of this. The school feels strongly that hours of homework is not the answer to educating kids well and parents that I know seem content with the general workload.
8. Administration-parent communication:
A/B -- I think the school does a decent job and this but there always seems to be places where things could be more organized. I'd venture to say that every American parent feels that way about the schools in Honduras.
9. Teacher-student communication:
A -- This is very strong.
10. Are there academic requirements such as trips or other activities that cost money in addition to school fees?
Some field trips, but none that are expensive.
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?
I have not had a lot of experience with this, but there is a guidance counselor and an active program through her. High school class sizes are small, but all 9 of the graduation Seniors from last year are attending good colleges in the U.S. and Honduras.
2. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?
A -- Wonderful library for such a small school.
3. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?
B/C -- The school does have a computer lab and technology classes, but this is an area that could be improved. Classrooms have computers and teachers utilize ipads.
4. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?
C-- this is definitely not the school's strength. It does not have the quality of facilities that the other bigger schools have. I believe they do a good job with what they have, but again this is not their strength.
5. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?
A -- My daughter's kindergarten class has 10 students with one teacher and one assistant. It is wonderful. Especially at the very young ages, I appreciate how the small class sizes allow the teachers to focus on social interaction between the students, fostering kindess, encouragement and forgiving one another.
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?
B -- There is no IB program, but there are currently 6 AP courses offered.
7. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?
A-- Kids have required music and art classes beginning in the nursery classes. Given its size, the school is able to stand out in the arts much easier than in sports. In the summer of 2014, the Discovery School Choir has been invited to perform at Carnegie Hall. Every Spring, there is a red carpet event highlighting the artistic, literary and musical achievements of students.
8. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?
Social & Emotional Well-Being:
1. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?
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.
1. What is the greatest strength of this school?
The size of the school and its diverse make-up of local and expat kids are what makes this school unique. While the size is a tremendous strength for elementary and younger kids, the small class sizes and lack of variety in extra-curriculars can make the school less interesting for older kids. But the diversity makes it such a welcoming place for new families.
2. Greatest challenge?
Size can also be its greatest challenge with regard to offering after school activities and sports.
3. Would you choose this school again? Why?
Absolutely!! I believe that the other schools in Tegucigalpa have greater strengths in terms of facilities and variety of offerings of electives and after-school activities, but Discovery is the easiest environment for expat kids to adjust to and the small class sizes and warm environment are a no-brainer for families with young kids.