Ankara, Turkey Real School Experiences

Personal Experiences from Ankara, Turkey

Ankara, Turkey 10/17/19

British International School of Ankara

School Website

http://www.besaturkey.org/


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?

Two children attended this school from ages 3-Year 3 (which is second grade)

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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)?

Government

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

There are several other options, including Oasis, Bilkent and the DOD school. We chose this school because it had the best reputation at the time and the parents who had children there were extremely enthusiastic about the education. It remains the best school our kids have been to.

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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?

Somewhat. It is clear Brits get preference but not clear on other groups.

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

Wonderful. It is a small community and the teachers/staff were very welcoming.

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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?

Good. Direct email with teachers, regular updates by email from school. Very few logins required, which I can't stand. So all good!

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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?

Uniforms, which were not too expensive. Field trips included in cost of tuition.

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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 only goes through 8th grade.

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

No before, but good range of clubs available for after-school care. Costs were reasonable.

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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?

Good library with updated books. Students can take out books and bring home. The librarian has been there for quite some time and she's wonderful.

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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?

Somewhat low tech, which I love.

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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 small gym/multi-purpose room. The kids do a week of swimming but it is off campus. No playing fields but there is a tennis court at the embassy the kids use. It is a smaller and older school ... BUT, the biggest bonus are the woods. Ankara is not a forrested place, but the school sits in this amazing patch of woods and the kids get to spend a ton of time roaming through them. My oldest still misses his time building forts and making bases in those woods.

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

Class size maxes out at 20 I believe up through 3rd or 4th grade; there are two teachers in each class.

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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?

Academics were excellent; I've found them to be at least a year ahead than the schools in Virginia. Especially in math.

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

Very. Not a ton of homework, but interesting longer term projects.

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

Yes. Tons of drama incorporated into the program; lots of music.

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

I believe so. I can't think of any teacher who wasn't a native English speaker. Although some with very strong British or Scottish accents :)

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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?

Lots of clubs, sports for middle school kids including track and soccer.

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Social & Emotional Well-Being:

1. 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.

Not in our experience

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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

Yes, we've talked about trying to return to Ankara just for this school!

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

The school does a ton to grow independence in kids. We started out here for elementary school so I didn't realize how radical a concept that is until we returned to the States and was able to compare. Kids do a sleep-over in kindergarten at the school. In first grade they do a 3-day trip to Cappadocia. They are encouraged to do and act and think on their own. I truly adored this school and so did our kids. It is a gem.

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Ankara, Turkey 09/11/16

Ankara EHS

School Website

http://www.dodea.edu/ankaraEHS/


Background Information:

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.

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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 sibling and I are in tenth and twelfth. So far, just this year, and the end of 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)?

My dad's a diplomat.

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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.

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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?

Let's just say my mom deals with that stuff, but it's pretty straightforward.

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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.

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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?

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.

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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?

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.

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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'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.

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

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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?

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

There's a teacher for that. They have a bit more trouble with APs but most other classes they do fine in.

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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?

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.

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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?

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.

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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.

Nope. It's too small for anyone to hate anyone.

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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.
I wouldn't chose it again because I don't like being at a place for more than two years or something.

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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!

It's super small and many teachers recently left so the counselors and a few teachers are new.

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Ankara, Turkey 07/09/14

Bilkent Laboratory and International School

School Website

http://blisankara.org/


Background Information:

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

Both.

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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?

3rd grade and 6th grade.

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

2011-2013.

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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?

PYP school, IB school, well-balanced curriculum, more educational opportunities.

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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?

Very transparent.

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

At the beginning of the school year there is always a welcome session for new students. They are able to meet other students at the school prior to the first day and get a tour around campus.

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Administration & School Procedures:

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

In the past decade or so, the school has tended to be more Turkish in population, but that has been changing in recent years. The international student population increased 25% for the 2013-2014 year and they started an international parent organization. The families that send their children there tend to either be wealthy or work for the university. Students are encouraged to be well-balanced, with art, music, drama, and band being required courses up through middle school.

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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:

Since many of the office administrators tend to be Turkish, it is easier for Turkish-speaking parents to make their way around the school, however it is always easy to find someone to help if you are on campus. It is also pretty easy to find out who the best person to call is. I was very impressed with the school overall.

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

As in most schools, this depends on the teacher - some are great about communication and some aren't.

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

Good curriculum for gifted students (the PYP and IB program tend to be on par with the GT programs in the States). There is some support for those with learning difficulties.

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

In elementary school, the after-school program is built into the school day so that transportation is pretty easy. For the older kids, there are options as well. The school has soccer, basketball, volleyball, and tennis teams. They also had a small cross-country team.

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6. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:

Good.

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7. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):

Weekly homework packets in elementary, homework assigned on a class-by-class basis in middle (5-8) and high school (9-12).

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8. Administration-parent communication:

Weekly updates from each principal.

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9. Teacher-student communication:

Frequent progress reports.

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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?

English.

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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:

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

For mild cases.

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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?

Not as wide as in Fairfax County, VA, but more so than any of the other international schools in Ankara.

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

There are other opportunities for students to participate in, such as class trips, but students are not required to go (though most do).

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

Yes.

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

Yes.

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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?

Good counselors who are willing to make the best of each situation.

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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 small library, but with decent resources. Students have access to the university library as well.

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

In elementary school, all students take a weekly IT class and use the school labs. In upper elementary school the students are encouraged to bring their own laptops/netbooks/tablets, and there are computers in the labs they can use as well.

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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?

On par with what we have seen in Fairfax County, VA.

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

Most classes have about 15-18 students. In elementary school there are 2 teachers for each class - one international teacher and one Turkish teacher.

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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?

No AP classes, but all high school students participate in the IB program.

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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)?

Not sure of the exact number, but one of the best selections among the more popular international schools in Ankara.

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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.

No, but the PYP and IB programs seem to cover that.

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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, though initially it seems that international students hang out together and Turkish students hang out together. The longer the student is at the school, however, the more the lines blur.

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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.

Some do, but I wouldn't say it is any worse than at public schools in the States.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What is the greatest strength of this school?

IB program.

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2. Would you choose this school again? Why?

Yes, my kids were very happy there and I was happy working there. The teachers I worked with were great and the majority were well-qualified. I loved that Turkish was a part of the curriculum and my kids were interacting with the local population more than they would have at other schools, definitely more so than they did our first year when they were at the DOD school.

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