Ankara, Turkey Report of what it's like to live there - 09/11/16
Personal Experiences from Ankara, Turkey
1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?
I'm a high school student.
2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?
My sibling and I are in tenth and twelfth. So far, just this year, and the end of 2016.
3. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?
My dad's a diplomat.
4. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?
Yep, there's an international school. But it's not actually international, it's called BLISS, and basically it's a Turkish school. The dodea school has kids from all over, lots of different embassies. It also sticks to the American system which I've been in all my life, and the dodea system with the same graduation requirements I've had since ninth grade.
There's also a British school. It's the British system so I didn't for it.
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?
Let's just say my mom deals with that stuff, but it's pretty straightforward.
2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?
When I came it was pretty lame. We came a few months before school ended because the school in Adana, Incirlik Unit School shut down. And no one was that helpful. But there are a lot of new teachers now so it may be different.
Administration & School Procedures:
1. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?
It's great. We've got dodea emails, and so there's a whole system where you can find anyone in the dodea schools emails, including teachers. And parents only have good communication with teachers and all if they bother to have it. Parents have access to the grade website. It's pretty good.
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?
There are awesome trips we go on. STEMposium, a science thing where four kids from a bunch of dodea schools all go to a hostel in Germany and have science projects. Creative Connections which is an art program where 100 students are selected from dodea schools to go to a hostel and do music, art, theater, film, all sorts of things. And the AP art classes go on a trip each year, they cost around 250 euros for each kid.
And I don't play instruments, but I think they're provided.
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?
There's a counselor. Two, actually. My sibling and I have the same one for our grades, and he's great. He tries his best to be as helpful as possible. I don't know much about the university stuff, I mean, I should, but I don't.
2. Is there before and/or after-school daycare available? What are the costs?
3. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?
It does. The school in general is really small, about 50 high schoolers, and the school is literally two hallways. The school library is pretty great, and there's also a base library. You can check out books at the school if you're a student, and parents can get accounts at the base library and check out movies and books.
4. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?
There aren't many labs, actually only one. But many classes are labs as well as classrooms. They're pretty good, I've never actually been to a school where there are good computers.
5. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?
There is a gym. The teacher is great. They have three sports, volleyball, basketball and soccer. There's no pool. The base has a gym which is also the school's gym, a running track and...actually that's about it. But it's not bad. The PE class focuses mainly on health and fitness so most kids are pretty well off and leave extremely fit, muscular, or something.
6. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?
7. 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?
AP is available for 9-12, though mostly 10-12 take them. They're great, though languages are mostly online except for Spanish. Diploma is required.
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?
Yeah they are. The teachers are all amazing, they try their best and most kids do really well.
9. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?
It is. But I'm a student, so I'll say homework is completely unnecessary. But putting myself in the mind of my mother, I'll say that yes, the homework is appropriate.
10. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?
I don't know much about music, but there's a class for it. There's a drama class and club, but it isn't like full scale stage/play/musical, we're a really small school. The art teacher is great, we have AP art history, art fundamentals, ap art studio 2D and 3D, and lots of really creative kids. And like I said before, Creative Connections which is awesome.
11. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?
Yep. Most teachers are American, there are teachers of Turkish nationality but they're fluent and awesome. Language isn't really a problem unless you don't speak English, and we're a very international school so we've got a few kids who don't speak English.
12. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
There's NHS. Currently we don't have a teacher for a sponsor. There's AP.
13. What services are available for students with learning disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
I have no experience with these services. And there aren't many students with learning disabilities, so I'm not sure there are any services.
14. What services are available for students with physical disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
I think it should be mostly fine, but as far as I know there aren't services right now since there aren't any kids with physical disabilities.
15. 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's a teacher for that. They have a bit more trouble with APs but most other classes they do fine in.
16. 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?
Drama club, robotics, volleyball/basketball/soccer (it's seasonal), art club (elementary kids), MUN (it's also a class), I don't of many for high schoolers.
Social & Emotional Well-Being:
1. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?
Yep. There's a handful of Turkish kids, but many are Turkish/American or Turkish/something else, and there's a lot of people from all sorts of places (India, Korea, Spain, and more) , and everyone gets along.
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.
Nope. It's too small for anyone to hate anyone.
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?
I wouldn't chose it again because I don't like being at a place for more than two years or something.
2. Please tell us anything else you think prospective parents and students should know about this school. Thanks for your contribution!
It's super small and many teachers recently left so the counselors and a few teachers are new.