Aguadilla, Puerto Rico Real School Experiences

Personal Experiences from Aguadilla, Puerto Rico

Aguadilla, Puerto Rico 01/21/11

Ramey School

School Website

http://www.am.dodea.edu/acss/Ramey/


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?

4-6-8

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

2009-Present

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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 - Federal Law Enforcement

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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?

A - As a DOD school, the regulations regarding admission are very clear.

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

B - Ramey does an ok job at supporting new students.They don't assign a student to go around with new children or give them a personal campus tour as I have seen in other places.The counseling department is particularly bereft of helpful people.

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Administration & School Procedures:

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

Ramey is a pretty small school (600 students K-12). It is populated with Coast Guard, Border Patrol, Homeland Security, etc... About 80% of the students are Puerto Rican although the school is entirely in English

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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:

C - In my experience, the English only speaking children aren't as catered to as the Puerto Rican-American children. Many times instructions are given in Spanish and not repeated in English. This is particularly frustrating for the younger children.

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

B - They have an online grading system which works well.Teachers in the middle school are not very good about contacting you if your child slips up.

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

C - Gifted kids are particularly neglected.They have a "Gifted" teacher who does pull-out, but they just play on the internet or do a giant report. No support is given to classroom teachers to help diversify the instruction given in the classroom.Ususally the higher kids are told to read silently or to help someone else when they finish early and are bored. The administration has not been very supportive of extra training for teachers on differentiation of instruction. Similar problems have been reported by other parents with special ed students.

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

B - There are sports available to 7-12th graders, but not much for under 7th grade.

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6. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:

C - I think Ramey could benefit from challenging students a lot more.Much teaching is straight from the book and book tests are given. Little attention is given to re-teaching or mastery of skills and yet everyone seems to get good grades. Some people have had to put their kids down a grade level when they leave here.

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7. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):

C - There is little homework given (not a complaint), but when it is given, it is either busy work or something the parents complete. I don't really like homework as a rule. Get it done at school where there is a professional to help you.

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8. Administration-parent communication:

A - the administration is willing to listen to parents although often nothing is done about it.

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9. Teacher-student communication:

B - Most of the teachers are respectful of students.

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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?

YES - Students of high ability levels are often neglected in favor of others who are native Spanish speakers. Most of the teachers are Puerto Rican too, so you are at a cultural disadvantage too.

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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:

YES - my children receive gifted services

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

No - Ramey could be better served by having the gifted teacher supplement in the classroom than use the pull-out model

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

No

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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 - I would love daily Spanish for all grade levels as we are in a country where that is the main spoken language, but Spanish is given as a two-week rotation (with PE, Art and Music filling out the other sections) for all elementary kids

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

Daily foreign language instruction. For older kids, they only have Spanish 3 and 4 for native speakers. If you need spanish 1 or French, you have to take online classes.

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

Not really

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17. What activities do you feel are missing?

some more activities for younger kids would be nice

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

Yes. My kids participate in sports and the cooking club when it met.

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

See my answer above

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20. Please describe any problem areas or challenges in social interaction at the school:

There is a problem with bad language and with public displays of affection. Since this is a K-12 school, you have 18 year olds on the same campus as 5 yr olds.Sometimes inappropriate things are said or done around the younger kids. More supervision during lunch time would be nice.

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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?

D - The counseling department is worthless.They are forgetful, unorganized, can't manage to put kids into classes they need and generally I cannot figure out what it is they DO put time and energy into.

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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 - The library is well organized, clean and up-to-date.

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

A - The school is getting more and more smart boards. Document cameras are not in every classroom, but hopefully this is on the rise soon. There are not a lot of computers in each classroom, but a nice lab exists.

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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?

A - My children love the PE curriculum.Being tropical, you can play outside just about every day.

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

A - The class sizes are ridiculously small.Coming from a state that had 36 to a classroom, the 16 here is delightful.

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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?

A - Almost all AP classes are available either in person or in online classes

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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 - They do a great job with art, music, band, etc.There are also cooking clubs, NHS, Math Counts and other clubs

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

YES - They are required, but this doesn't mean much. They speak Spanish all of the time in class without always explaining what is meant to the other children.

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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.

Yes - They do reports, research on the internet and play games on the internet. No math gifted support is given.

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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, many children live on the Coast Guard base and are able to play together

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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.

A little.Because students speak Spanish to each other all of the time, non-Spanish speakers get made fun of without really knowing what is being said about them.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What is the greatest strength of this school?

Small class sizes

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2. Greatest challenge?

Academic rigor

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3. Would you choose this school again? Why?

No. If the government would pay for another private school, I would leave in a second.

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