Amman, Jordan Report of what it's like to live there - 11/18/18

Personal Experiences from Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan 11/18/18

School Name:

King's Academy

Background Information:

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

A parent of a child attending the school.

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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?

Last year she was in middle school, 8th grade, this year in high school, 9th grade.

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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)?

Husband works at the Embassy

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

Yes, there are other schools available. The youngest two go to ICS which is also great. We chose King's Academy for its amazing high school.

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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?

Yes. It is very clear, and the standards are high.

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

A+ + + + +. King's Academy, modeled after the King of Jordan's alma mater, Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts, goes over and beyond anything required of them. I would say that with the support is also an expectation that the child do his or her best in all areas: academics, sports, co-curricular, and community service. The whole person is developed in ways that other schools simply can't compete with: Daily sit-down meals with advisors and their students is one example. It really is a "prep" school. My daughter's advisor, for example, is a graduate of Yale. You just don't get that at other area schools.

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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?

Communication is really good, but I have noticed that there is a shift of the high school student becoming more and more independent, so, the parents are less involved. And that's OK. I like that!

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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?

One uniform comes with the tuition of the school, but you need to provide your child with khakis and white button-down shirts. You should provide your high schooler with a laptop, but the middle school loans them to the students. Musical instruments can be on loan, and field trips are included. We haven't had any abroad experiences yet with King's, but there might be some traveling involved with sports teams and Model UN. I'm just not sure.

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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?

Yes! My daughter has not had to utilize the school counselor much, but we have another daughter who will soon transition to King's, and I will have more to say about the counseling since she "checks in" often. To my understanding, there are actually three high school counselors dedicated to college counseling. If the graduates of King's Academy have good standing, they can basically go anywhere they want. That's the school's reputation, and I believe it.

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

N/A. King's Academy is for grade 7-12.

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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?

Yes. It's great! It's a beautiful library with many books and not too many bells and whistles.

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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?

High schoolers need their own laptops. Middle schoolers borrow a laptop. Technology is integrated into the classroom in a very supervised way. The teacher will say, "Laptops closed" when he/she wants all eyes up front. (Picture most classes with kids in their blazers and ties around a table in a business-like setting. It's great!)

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

Yes. Yes. King's Academy goes over and beyond in all areas.

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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?

Great gym. Amazing pool. Huge fields, tennis courts, and even (ahem) the "King's riding stable" if you fancy horseback riding for an after school activity.

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

10 to 1. Very small classes with students seated around an oval table for discussion-type classes.

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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?

Amazing AP opportunities.

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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?

My daughter is only challenged by the curriculum. Foreign languages are taught in target-language only, for example. At the other international schools, I'm sorry to say, Arabic is a joke. At King's Academy, Arabic is a *must,* and kids are expected to learn and function in the local language. Even though math is not my daughter's strong suit, the teacher has already given her a vision for reaching AP calculus by senior year. King's Academy somehow pushes and inspires these kids to do more than they think they can. It's amazing. She also likes art and aspires to take AP studio art next year as a sophomore. She has learned so much about art this year including photography. The kids sign out a fancy digital camera that they bring home with them for homework assignments.

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

Yes. But it is a challenge. Our daughter sometimes wakes up at 6 a.m. to finish her homework, but she takes her academics seriously.

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

One of the reasons we chose King's Academy over other international schools in the area was the fact that there is a high school orchestra. Not every school has one. She plays violin (although we joke that she is an "eternal second violin," she's up on stage)! She's in the high school musical, and we have already touched on the visual arts in a previous question.

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

Yes. Amazing staff from all over the world. You won't find the caliber at other schools.

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

I would say that your kid should already be gifted/advanced even to apply to this school (We have a range of needs in our family, but a couple of our kids fall into this category. They are academic and need to be pushed).

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

I don't think that King's would be the school for your child if he/she has learning disabilities. That being said, there are accommodations to students in wheelchairs with cerebral palsy, but I can't speak to anything else. We have a younger child with ADHD, and ICS is the perfect fit. Other families say the same. I wouldn't put a kid with any type of special needs at ACS. We were told at a tour "if there was space" for our kid with ADHD, so we didn't even bother applying. Also, a friend's pre-schooler did not "get into" ACS. Are you kidding me? What is this? Harvard? So, they chose ICS.

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

There are accommodations to students in wheelchairs and other physical disabilities. I can't speak much to the academic disability part, though. You can ask the school.

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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.

There are definitely services available, but the student should already have a very, very good command of English before applying to the school. That is my understanding, but you can ask the school for more information on that.

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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?

orchestra, guitar, drama, photography, volleyball, horseback riding, swimming, tennis, basketball, etc. etc. etc. There is so much. My daughter has enjoyed orchestra, the school play/musical, volleyball, and swim team.

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Social & Emotional Well-Being:

1. What is the climate for LGBT+ kids at this school? Are there resources they can draw upon? Does there appear to be any exclusionary behavior?

The Middle East is not the friendliest of places for the LGBT community. That being said, there is a a respect that is demanded at school for differences.

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

YES! It is a must. There are different socioeconomic levels among the students also. There aren't really "cliques" so to speak.

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3. 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.


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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++++ King's Academy is an elite boarding school that draws from many areas of the globe. My daughter has classmates from both rich and poor areas of Jordan, Honduras, China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Korea, Kuwait, the US, etc. It really is a "prep" school where parents become less and less involved, and the children become more and more independent.

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

You will be out of pocket for King's Academy (the Embassy pays about 75% of the bill), but it is well worth every extra penny you can spend for your child if he or she is a little more academic than the average Embassy family. We feel that it is worth the investment with what she gets in return. The faculty are the best of the best from very high-level universities, and it is evident upon first look at the school. We are moving our daughter from a day student to a week-day border because she has really excelled in the academic climate and could use the week day to focus more on her studies. (We are cutting out the 40-minute bus ride which is doable, but our daughter has proven to us that she is ready for the week-day boarder life. It's crazy that I'm even writing this, but I am. Amazing school!!!!)

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