Monterrey, Mexico Report of what it's like to live there - 06/13/21
Personal Experiences from Monterrey, Mexico
1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?
Parent of three children who attend.
2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?
7th, 6th & 4th. 2019-2021.
3. What years did you live here?
4. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?
U.S. diplomatic & consular mission.
5. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?
Yes, San Roberto International School (Nord Anglia). ASFM is right next to the consulate, and where most expat Americans here send their kids.
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, but it’s still tedious, bureaucratic, lengthy, and composed of testing. But at the end of it all, *we know* that consulate kids are *going* to be accepted and attend. It may have changed, but I had to FAX upwards of 20-30 pages per child.
2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?
They give you a nice tour. But 90 to 95% of the students who attend here have parents who attended, and probably grandparents too. The school does what it can, but in our experience, the local family cliques and grupitos are well-established and hard to break into.
Administration & School Procedures:
1. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?
All over the place and we found it to be very frustrating. Rumors and “parent involvement” chats abound through unofficial WhatsApp groups. Then there’s the school’s PowerSchool cloud service/portal, and various Google suite applications, accounts, and addresses.
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?
Personally-purchased MacBook Airs are (needlessly) required for each student in the upper school. The lower school students can get by with a Chromebook at home.
Musical instruments are provided.
Personally-purchased PE uniforms are required.
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?
Quite a bit, but their effectiveness is questionable, in my opinion. We found them to be better at conferences, testing, buzzwords, and educational theories rather than providing actual solutions for students.
2. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?
Yes, but the books seem old and worn; collections development is thin. I think this school is going all in on digital—and that’s not necessarily a good thing.
3. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?
4. What are the technology requirements for students? Do they need their own laptops/ipads? How is technology integrated into the classroom and homework?
A MacBook Air is required for each upper school (incl. middle & high) student. They use PowerSchool, Zoom, and Google suite. Their supposed integration can be confusing.
5. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?
No swimming pool; but a lot of fields, courts, pavilion, and gymnasium.
6. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?
There are 20 to 22 kids in my kids’ classes. I find that too many for a private school.
7. 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?
A confusing and misleading grading system, 0 to 4, was applied to the 2020-2021 school year. But please, please don’t confuse it with a grade point system. It was pitched as a ‘system where nobody fails, but just tells you where you are in the content mastery.’ Oh, how that changed by year’s end.
8. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?
Confusing. They oddly said that there’s really no homework assigned when we enrolled in August 2019. But the workload is heavy—and what kids don’t or can’t finish in class then goes home with them. So it ends up being rather punitive and unplanned.
Real homework requires and builds long-term thinking and planning—I don’t like this haphazard application of ‘not really homework.’
9. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?
All of it, but it’s pretty superficial and short-term.
10. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?
11. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
Yes, but I’m not sure how it’s applied/implemented. One of our kids tested as G&T, but nothing changed in their education the following year.
12. What services are available for students with learning disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
We’ve been referred to outside/local educational counselors and tutors, who are very good. However, the school doesn’t do a great job of reintegrating those outside consultants with internal school requirements & expectations.
13. What services are available for students with physical disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
The school is quite accessible. Not sure if it strictly adheres to (USA) ADA new construction standards, but it’s pretty thoughtful in design.
14. What services are provided for speakers of English as a second language at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
90 to 95% of students are Monterrey-local and their first language is Spanish.
15. 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’s a lot of extracurricular activities, but they’re hard to break into without a reasonably good command of Spanish, whether you’re the participating child or their parent.
The school could really use a swimming pool.
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 students, parents, families who make up the school are pretty conservative … but they are also wealthy, where manners & appearances matter … so, overt bullying or discrimination doesn’t seem to be prevalent. Polite tolerance seems to be the rule.
2. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?
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.
The families who patronize and attend this school go back two, three, or maybe more generations. Parents are very polite, but it’s hard to break into their social circles. Kids practice polite tolerance for the most part.
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?
C. I would definitely look at other options more carefully, but would be OK sending young kids to ASFM.
2. Please describe some of your child's/children's highlights and challenges during their time at this school.
Long-established family & society cliques (grupitos) and getting SSL (Spanish as Second Language) instruction are challenges.