Amman, Jordan Report of what it's like to live there - 02/08/18
Personal Experiences from Amman, Jordan
1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?
Parent of two children.
2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?
Currently in grades 4 and 6 (Years 5 and 7).
3. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?
Husband works at USAID.
4. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?
There are many international schools but most parents choose the American School. I think most just go with it since it's where 90% of the children go. We heard that there were other options so we decided to shop around. Our oldest (8th grade) goes to King's Academy, and elite boarding/day school in the area.
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?
ICS is amazing, really. They did an incredible job interviewing and even following up individually with the children. They were very attentive.
Administration & School Procedures:
1. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?
We are so pleased with how ICS takes care of everything. I have barely had to do anything concerning "problems" at school. It's the first time in years that I have not had to go to school to raise a concern.
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. We love uniforms!! I think a uniform costs about 30 USD and we purchased a few.
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?
Yes. My daughter checks in with the school counselor (from the U.S.) on a weekly basis to talk about "relationships at school" to help build good relationships.
2. Is there before and/or after-school daycare available? What are the costs?
There are a ton of after-school activities that go from 2:00 through 5:00 if you choose to take more than one. This is a great option for the kid who wants to be involved in a range of activities.
3. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?
Yes! There aren't many bells and whistles in the library, and honestly, I'm OK with that. There are plenty of books and computers for all.
4. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?
5. What are the technology requirements for students? Do they need their own laptops/ipads? How is technology integrated into the classroom and homework?
Having their own ipad is helpful because some of the reading is done on the ipad. There is some work done on the computer at home and assignments done by middle schoolers are submitted online. Elementary school kids don't use much technology at all for homework.
6. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?
Lots of room for play. Swimming pool will be built soon. That being said, my son is on the swim team that is twice a week after school. Kids ride the bus there.
7. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?
16:1, I believe.
8. 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?
I'm not too familiar with the upper grades. I think it is IB.
9. 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?
Oh my goodness, yes! I love ICS. They focus a bit more on European history versus U.S. (duh), and I'm learning along with my kids! My daughter was showing me videos of her chemistry experiment just yesterday, and she's not even in high school yet. I feel that the standard is higher than what we have experienced in the past at least for the younger grades.
10. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?
The homework system is FANTASTIC! The teacher gives the students weekly homework assignments from which the students can DECIDE which activities to do. If they have 10 spelling words, for example, the student could write a story, create a crossword puzzle, or a mock test for another student. I love the way that students can choose what to do while the teachers still encourage the students to try different activities. Genius, really. And I don't have to keep asking every night if the kids have homework!!
11. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?
Violin, piano, drum, and vocal lessons are offered after school. Drama is good. Visual arts are good. They are doing a unit on stained glass at the moment. Plenty of after school activities as well as activities included in the weekly school schedule.
12. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?
13. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
Sometimes students are placed in higher groups (like for math or reading) if they are ready. Our daughter, for example, started in the highest level of math and was moved down a level (oops!), but is working her way back up to the first level again. In that way, it's a little fluid, if you will, but it gives students a chance to move ahead.
14. What services are available for students with learning disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
Our youngest son has ADHD and is thriving. His teacher told me the other day that she figured out he preferred reading on the carpet on his back with his feet up in the air, so she joined him when giving him an assessment. I love that about ICS because I really feel (and see) that the teachers try to accommodate the children and their learning needs. Some have standing desks, some students have an aid in the room, etc. They are so accommodating that it has been unbelievable.
15. What services are available for students with physical disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
I'm not sure, but please ask. I'm sure they accommodate.
16. What services are provided for speakers of English as a second language at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
Strong ESL program from what I understand. Such an amazing, truly international school!
17. 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?
Basketball, swimming, golf, fencing, biking (local bike company brings a truckload of bikes for the kids once a week. It was awesome- and ICS is a little bit more out in the countryside, so it is safe), netball, soccer, lego robotics, cooking, drama, drums, lots of music choices including violin and piano, choir, henna, origami, etc. etc. Such an amazing selection, and you can sign up for as many as you want. I'm happy to pay the fees. (around 25US for some of the activities per trimester.) I can't think of anything that is really missing at school.
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! I love this about ICS. My daughter just had a birthday party, and her friends who came over were from Zimbabwe, Nigeria, South Korea, Australia, France, Sweden, Jordan, Canada, Germany...... Love it. It's truly an international school, and this is one thing we were looking for versus the local American school.
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.
Very minimal, and the staff is on it immediately. Some of the older kids were teasing my son about his name, and it was nipped in the bud. Amazing response.
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+ ABSOLUTELY! I would recommend it to any American family looking for more of an international experience with a rigorous but welcoming and easy-to-understand curriculum. We would highly recommend from PK-8th grade (year 9), but we will transition to King's Academy (American system) for high school. I don't "not" recommend the high school, though. I think it's probably very good.
2. Please tell us anything else you think prospective parents and students should know about this school. Thanks for your contribution!
When you go to ICS, you will notice that it doesn't have the bells and whistles that other schools might have, but it has been the best choice for us at this post. Don't let other schools tell you that they only have "20%" Jordanians at the school because many children have US passports and were only in the US as a baby (so that they could get their US passport). I would shop around if you are trying to avoid rich, spoiled locals. With that being said, many families are happy with ACS, but I would just shop around for your own sake.