Sao Paulo, Brazil Real School Experiences

Personal Experiences from Sao Paulo, Brazil

Sao Paulo, Brazil 06/29/18

The British College of Brazil - Sao Paulo

School Website

http://britishcollegebrazil.org/


Background Information:

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

I am the parent of a student attending "BCB".

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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?

My daughter attended 1st, 2nd and part of 3rd grade at BCB - Chacara Flora (in the British system they are categorized as Year 2, 3, and 4). She attended 2014-2016.

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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)?

U.S. Government

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

Most expatriate kids attend one of the two best known schools: Graded (American school) and British College of Brazil (British school).

Graded is usually everyone's top choice since it is the American school. It is extremely large and has lots of events and activities for attending families and the community, but it can also have a long waiting list (Americans do not receive priority placement) and is a lengthy drive from most of the expat communities (long bus rides result in very early pick up and very late drop off).

BCB is a smaller, more intimate school that is close to the U.S. consulate and most of the expat communities. It has two campuses in the city - Cidade Jardim and Chácara Flora (our daughter attended Chacara Flora). It is still growing and is lacking an upper school, but the programs available to middle school and under are great. Both schools are academically advanced with top-notch teachers and accolades. So really it depends on the type of experience you want (and who has an opening when you need it).

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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?

Compared to schools we have attended in other countries, we found BCB's process to be very easy, straightforward, and stress-free.

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

One of the best qualities of BCB is its diversity and transient student body. Because of this it is very easy for new kids to integrate. The school works hard to encourage parents/families to participate in campus activities.

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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?

The communication between teachers and parents is totally dependent on the teacher. One year we felt totally lost as to the daily classroom activities and then the following year we were almost over-informed. Almost all communications are electronic, which some people embrace and others don't.

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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?

BCB requires school uniforms (jackets, button up shirts, ties, pants/skirts, PE uniforms) for all students. In the lower school all classroom supplies/tech devices are provided.

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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?

Given the small size of the school, the front office is very involved with the students and the doors are always open for personal issues. Since the school is still expanding and lacks an upper school there are no academic counselors or college resources that I know of.

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

Not that I know of, but this was a discussion when we left and may have changed.

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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?

The school has a small library and welcomes book donations. Since the school is still growing/expanding this is on the list of areas of improvement.

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

There is an on-campus computer lab and technology is a major focus of the school.

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5. What are the technology requirements for students? Do they need their own laptops/ipads? How is technology integrated into the classroom and homework?

In the lower school all school supplies and tech devices were provided. The students use technology daily, which is one of the curriculum points we appreciated.

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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?

Given the school's location, the campus is quite small. There is a large outside area used for PE and sporting activities, but nothing indoors. There is no swimming pool and students are bused to a local swim academy for PE swimming courses.

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

On average our daughters classes contained 18 students with 1 teacher and 1 teaching assistant. Our teachers were all British/Australian and the teaching assistants were mostly Brazilian.

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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?

BCB is a member of the Council of British International Schools (COBIS). It is growing and expanding its upper school and is pursuing authorization as an IB World School.

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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?

Our daughter was very challenged on a daily basis and came back to the U.S. performing above grade level. BCB focuses more on teaching and less on testing, which was refreshing and had great impact on her education in our opinion.

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

Our daughter was challenged but never felt overworked.

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

BCB has a heavy focus on the arts and we enjoyed the numerous art, music and drama events put on each year by all grade levels.

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

Yes, all teachers are required to be fluent in English (and all of ours were British/Australian).

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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.

BCB has a very hands-on learning style and encourages student-led activities in the classroom which helps those that are advanced.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

The sports are lacking for the lower school. We tried co-ed soccer but our daughter was the only girl on the team. Brazil really doesn't support girl soccer, which was very disappointing since she was an active soccer player in the U.S. We focused on non-school activities to keep her busy.

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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! The Brazilian children at the school love all the expat kids and the school does a wonderful job with embracing and showcasing everyone's cultures through education and fun events.

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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.

Unlike other countries, we did not experience any of this at BCB or in Brazil in general.

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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 - If we ever return to Sao Paulo we will actively seek re-enrollment at BCB.

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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!

I feel the school often gets overlooked because of the prominent American school in the city. However, having talked to parents at that school I know that BCB was the perfect fit for us. It should be on any expat radar that is moving to Sao Paulo.

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Sao Paulo, Brazil 01/15/18

Graded American School of Sao Paulo

School Website

http://www.graded.br


Background Information:

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

Parent

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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?

Grades 4-12, 2012-2018

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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)?

Assigned to the U.S. Consulate

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

There are 3 schools offering an American diploma (soon to be 4 schools in 2019). The other 2 schools (Chapel and PACA) have religious affiliations which were not good fits for us, but I did look at Chapel because of its strong academic reputation. The main reason we chose Graded was the outstanding performing arts facilities and (relatively speaking) greater performing arts opportunities. After getting to know all the schools quite well (we have lived in Sao Paulo for 6 years), I would recommend Graded for anyone who prefers their child to be in a truly international environment. All other schools offering English-language instruction have student populations that are 80-95% Brazilian passport holders, which means the international perspective is not really there. And (I feel) the risk of non-Brazilians being bullied/marginalized is higher when they are just a tiny minority within the group.

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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, everything is on the Graded website, but if your child has any special education requirements, the review process is a bit more mysterious. The main complaints I have heard are that inquiries go unanswered (or that responses are very slow) and that admission decisions are made very late (i.e. in May for August admission) - which is stressful. Until recently, the school operated at full capacity and had a long wait list, so the late admission decision timing was due in part to waiting for families to inform the school if they were withdrawing (and thus releasing a space).

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

We found Graded to be very welcoming six years ago. There is a super active PTA and parents are encouraged to be on campus at any time (which is not the case in many U.S. public schools!). Student "ambassadors" are assigned to each newcomer to help them navigate their first few days of school. I do think the counselors could do a better job of proactively checking in with new kids and families, especially at the upper school level.

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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 has been mixed in my six years experience. Some teachers reach out to parents, others send nothing even when kids are struggling. Major changes (to curriculum, grading system, program offerings, teaching staff) have sometimes been communicated well to parents by the administration, other times not. The website was updated but it is still difficult to find info (e.g. how to reach a teacher). I feel the current administration can sometimes be a bit defensive rather than engaging on controversial decisions, but in the big picture are open to listening. The elementary, middle, and high schools operate separately, which sometimes complicates effective communication.

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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?

Yes, all kids must have a laptop and starting in 4th grade, there are overnight field trips which are part of the curriculum. Costs range from a few hundred U.S. dollars for the lower school trips (which are 1-2 nights), up to $2000 for high school trips (which are for one week). Most extracurricular activities will offer a trip as well, ranging from U.S.$500-$3000. A family with multiple kids will need to budget for this!

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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?

There is a school psychologist and several counselors assigned to each school division. At the lower school and middle school teachers, these counselors also carry a teaching load. At the upper school level, they are dedicated counselors. Graded is currently looking to hire a dedicated college counselor, which will help improve this crucial function.

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

No

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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, there is a library which students can use and borrow from. I'm not that familiar to comment on quality of books.

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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?

Laptops required for grades 5 and up. All homework is managed on Google docs and via websites.

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

Graded has a 3-D printer and is working to improve STEM resources. The website may have a better description.

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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?

Sports facilities have recently been updated. There are several gyms and playing fields, but no pool yet (it is slated to be built in the next 5 years). No tennis court (this was removed during the renovation and replaced by a beach volleyball court). An activities director was hired two years ago, vastly improving the organization of the sports programs at Graded. But sports are still limited, both in terms of number of sports offered, and the ability of a child to play multiple sports in a season.

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

See website.

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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?

IB program is offered for 11-12 grade. Students may opt to do the IB full diploma (approximately 80% do) but all students must take at least a couple IB courses.

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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?

Graded is academically rigorous. Science has been weak, but the administration is working to improve (new curriculum, additional STEM courses added, etc.) Performing and fine arts is strong relative to other schools, although resources here have been cut since we started. There had been two music teachers and two theater teachers - now we have one teacher in each area to serve the entire school (K-12, 1,200 students)

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

Yes

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

Wonderful fine arts facilities are available. Graded has an orchestra, choirs, theater, and visual arts courses and clubs.

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

Yes

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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 don't believe there are special services in this area.

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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.

Graded can support limited special needs - one specialized resource is available in each of the three school divisions.

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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?

Many service clubs are available, sports, arts, academic clubs. See the website - there is something for everyone.

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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, it is possible with time. Both of my kids now have Brazilian friends - though for one of them, it took 5 years and reaching a decent level of Portuguese fluency for this to happen. The great thing about Graded is that half of the school are expats, so it is much easier to connect with new friends.

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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.

There is definitely a social division between Brazilian and non-Brazilian kids - which I feel is natural given the permanent vs. transient nature of the two groups, but can still be difficult for newcomers and has not evolved much during my time at the school. My gringo son was "not allowed" by the Brazilian kids to play in the daily soccer games at recess in the lower school - and the administration has still not found a solution to this ongoing exclusion.

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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?

B. Among the options available, I absolutely would choose it again. Given the cost and reputation, I had expected processes and communication and resources to be better organized and entrenched, but Graded has undergone several major transitions in the past six years. I believe these are mostly for the better, but the school has not had (for me) the look and feel of a nearly 100-year-old highly-regarded, leading edge institution. That said, my kids have had an excellent education overall and I feel are well prepared for college.

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Sao Paulo, Brazil 03/30/14

The Graded School

School Website

http://www.graded.br


Background Information:

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

Parent.

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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?

Grades 1st-3rd and Grades 5-8.

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3. During what years were you affiliated with this school?

December 2010- December 2012.

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4. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?

Government.

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

It was the primary State Department school and it was secular.

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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?

B -
it was tricky. They tried their best, but it is a school in very high demand.

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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

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Administration & School Procedures:

1. Describe the general climate of the grade level that you teach or your child attends:

It was a high achieving environment with the best teachers.

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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:

B

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3. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?

A-
teachers were amazing and great at communicating with parents quickly.

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4. Services for gifted students who need academic challenge and students with learning difficulties:

A -
They have great resources for both, but it is on a case-by-case basis.

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5. Availability and variety of after-school activities for various ages:

A -
lots of great choices and options.

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6. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:

A-
this was stressed and very well executed.

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7. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):

B-
too much homework, very high quality.

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8. Administration-parent communication:

A

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9. Teacher-student communication:

A

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10. Academics, answer the following questions "yes" or "no" with an explanation if appropriate:<br><br>Are there any classes or subjects where students are not appropriately challenged?

No.

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11. Does your child receive any special-needs assistance or instruction at this school? If yes, what types? Who provides services and where:

No.

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12. Do you believe the special-needs assistance is appropriate and fills your needs? Explain:

This school is not known for special needs services, but they have great people and resources.

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13. Does the gifted and talented program meet the needs of students? Please explain:

Yes.

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14. Does the school offer a wide variety of elective or non-core classes such as art, music, and drama?

Yes - fantastic options.

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15. Please describe any classes or programs that you believe are missing:

Time management/ study skills.

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16. Are there academic requirements such as trips or other activities that cost money in addition to school fees?

Yes - lots of great field trips. They were extra.

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17. Have your children participated in the activities offered? If no, please indicate why:

Yes.

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18. Does the school provide appropriate assistance to new students?

Yes - fantastic welcome program.

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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?

A-
all of the counselor so were very proactive and fantastic.

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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

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

A++ -
Amazing resources and opportunities!

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4. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?

B-
This was pretty interesting. I think they did rock climbing . The school athletic teams were pretty competitive. There was an A team and a B team. The A team traveled and played games and the B team just practiced.

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

C-
it was a crowded school.

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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?

IB only

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

Yes.

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

A ++
Insane amount and range of arts electives. They have a HUGE art program with practice rooms for music, dance studios, and wonderful art classrooms!

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

Yes.

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

All classes treated the students as if they were GT.

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11. 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?

Yes.

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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.

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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.

Sometimes - but the school does a great job addressing the issue.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What is the greatest strength of this school?

Academics, their teachers and the arts programs.

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2. Greatest challenge?

The inequality between the "have's" and "have not's"

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3. Would you choose this school again? Why?

Definitely!!

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