Sofia, Bulgaria Real School Experiences

Personal Experiences from Sofia, Bulgaria

Sofia, Bulgaria 07/24/19

Anglo-American School of Sofia (AAS)

School Website

https://www.aas-sofia.org/


Background Information:

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

I am a parent of two children attending AAS.

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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?

Grade 2 during 2017-2018
KG and Grade 3 during 2018-2019
Grades 1 and 4 during 2019-2020

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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. State Department

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

There are other schools available to expatriates in Sofia. We chose this school as it is the school officially supported by the U.S. Embassy and because it is very impressive.

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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.

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

I would rate it very highly. There is a Transition team (a councelor, as well as "student ambassadors") who is active at the begining, the end and even throughout the school year.

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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 between teachers, parents and administration is very smooth. Everyone is very engaged.

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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?

No uniforms, no aditional fees for computers, musical instruments and field trips.

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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?

School Counseling at each school level (persoanl and academic).

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

After-school activities but no daycare as far as I'm aware. Costs are comperable to other countries/cities and activites around (around $7/hour).
The amount and variety of activities are impressive and the instructors are amazing.

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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, a very large and impressive, very comfortable and modern library with a wonderful staff. With an option for parents' use as well. Available to order new titles that parents/students are intersted in.

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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?

Each student has an ipad, provided by the school. For ES, those stayed in the classroom.

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

Yes, there are computer labs.

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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?

There are at least 2 gyms, several soccer fields, basketball fields and tennis courts.

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

About 1:10

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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 in high 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?

The students are challenged appropriately by the curriculum. Very "applied" approach and overlaps in subject areas to increase understanding and intersections.

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

Very little homework at the ES level. The school days are long and students are expected to do their work during school hours. The main homework is "daily reading of choice."

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

In Elementary school - Music, Dance, Art (for all students)

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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.

A small Math class for a few selected students in ES.

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

We have a child with a physical disability that requires daily care. The Medical team and her teachers worked together to provide our daughter with all the opportunities that other students have. We were in daily touch and the administration was also supportive and active in the basic training and care. Couldn't be more grateful and happy with the services they provided in that respect.

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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.

ESL that the students who attended loved and I saw tremendous language growth in our children's friends who attended over the course of their first year.

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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?

Our children have attended different kinds of dance (hip hop, ballet, street dance), taekwondo, art, pottery, soccer, basketball, chess, gymnastics, fitness, airplane modeling, robotics.

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Social & Emotional Well-Being:

1. What is the climate for children with special needs? Is there a general attitude of inclusion for children with special needs?

Very inclusive for children with special needs.

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2. 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?

No experience but there is counseling at all school levels.

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

Yes, there is no obvious division between local and foreign students at any level that we have observed.

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4. 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.

1-2 bullying situations handled expertly by the teachers and counselor. Our daughter wasn't too affected by them and handled them with resilience and understanding. Bullying students were filled with regret in both situations and understood their behavior.
When we ask our children if there are bullies in their classes over the last two years, they adamantly responded "no." The school really insists on respectful and KIND behavior among its students. There are strong bonds of friendship among all students in a class.

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Overall Impressions:

1. Please describe some of your child's/children's highlights and challenges during their time at this school.

The three teachers we had over the years really focused on our children's strenghts and weaknesses to help them grow. They really got to know each child and truly loved and cared about them.

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2. 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+. Yes, if we could stay in Sofia forever, we'd love for our children to remain at AAS.

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

This is a wonderful school, with an amazing staff and administration, exceptional resources and a sense of community like no other. The teachers go to frequent training and the school's high standards are based on vigorous, regular testing. It really feels like our children's "home away from home" as the school's anthem says and like an extension of our family.

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