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Parent's Review of Cairo American College in Maadi, Egypt

What is the name of your child's school? (Please report on one school per survey.)

Cairo American College

In what town or city is this school located?

Maadi

How would you describe this school? (i.e. American, British, International, Local, etc.)

International with a mostly American curriculum.

What grade levels are represented at this school?

Kingergarten through 12th grade.

How do most children get to school everyday? (bus, train, walk, etc.)

Buses are offered, and quite a few students use them as their mode of transportation, but many students live within a walking distance of the school and will walk or ride a bike to school. Many students who live in outlying areas (Zamalek, Heliopolis, places over thirty minutes away) have drivers who will take them to and from school at certain times.

How would you describe the facilities at this school? What extra-curricular activities are available?

The facilities are very good, far better than the other schools in the Middle Eastern area that I have seen (Bahrain, Doha, Oman, etc.) There is a large theater which has recently been remodeled and offers many opportunities for not only large theater, dance, and performing art productions, but also for students interested in stagecraft, for there is a workshop where props and set pieces can be built, and a professional sound board and lighting board. However, while theater productions are both extracurricular and with a class, stagecraft, dance, and the performing arts are usually only open to those who have chosen the class as one of their elective classes. There are many sports available from season to season- there is a large gym for basketball and volleyball where students also learn to play badminton and learn to use a climbing wall during their physical education classes. There are two large fields well used for soccer and a six-lane track, with an outdoor basketball court and tennis courts. There is also a shotput area and discus-throwing area, though these are rarely used outside of Track/Field practices. However, there are less academic extracurricular activities to rival these sports, and their accomplishments are never given as much acclaim as those of the sports teams- the only competitive academic clubs are those of Varsity and Junior Varsity Academic Games, which are like 'Quizbowl' events and go all but unnoticed, particularly the junior varsity. There are also quite a few service opportunities for children to aim to help the less fortunate, or the environment. The major time consuming activities (theater, sports) will often constrain your child's time to do many other major activities.

What has this school done to help your child transition from the curriculum in your home country into the curriculum in your new country? Are there programs to prepare your child for repatriation?

There is more for the transition between 'schools'- fifth grade to sixth grade, eighth grade to ninth grade- than for new students transitioning in. The school encourages an 'independent' attitude in students, and while the schedule for middle and high school- a block schedule with eight classes, four classes per day that rotate in an eight-day cycle- sounds complicated, students often catch on very quickly. Students' peers are very willing to help new students out, as most of them have lived in many international communities before and are used to people coming and going. The schedule is not very regular when it comes to holidays- between clerical days, Egyptian holidays, and American holidays, weeks are rarely 'regular', but this has never been a problem for any of the students I have talked to- most of them enjoy the spaced-out schedule and the fact that they have two days to do their homework instead of one, giving them a day to talk with their teacher, should there be something they do not understand.

Reading another comment on Cairo American College, I have seen a complaint that, because of the block schedule, you are paying for a full year of math and only recieving half of it. This is not true. With an 8-class-per-day schedule, 45 minutes per class, teachers would most often teach one lesson, spending most of the time rushedly explaining it after checking the night before's homework, and then heaping children with more homework due the next day. With the block schedule, teachers have time to teach two lessons, not one, and there is often a time at the end of the class where students can begin their homework and ask the teacher questions about concepts they need more guidance in. Most students and teachers, prefer this schedule, which gets just as much work done without as much stress.

The school does not demand equal responsibilities of high schoolers as middle schoolers- high schoolers are given a great deal more independence and are expected to finish their work by setting their own guidelines and organizing their time themselves.

How would you describe the social activities available for parents through this school? Are there parent-teacher organizations?

After elementary school, there is not much of a chance for parents to participate in school but there is a lot of room for participation in PTO, Multicultural Commitee, the school board and other school events, and many extracurricular activities.

What advice would you give to someone considering enrolling their child in this school?

There are very high academic standards here for those students who wish to challenge themselves, and I have found that even the average classes have taught students more than they would learn at a public school in America. Many activities are offered, and while the school and administration don't offer as much guidance, anyone you ask- teachers or students- is happy to help. The administration relationship with the rest of the school is the lowest ever this year ('05-'06), however, the principals of the ES, MS, and HS are all leaving this year, which will lead to some positive changes.

This school encourages much independent thinking on the student's part, and so to fill that gap you may want to stay involved with your student's life and be there, should he or she need help or more guidance than what the school provides. If the administration or counselors will not listen to your child (as sometimes they will not, in the case of changing a class, etc.) then go and make yourself heard. Despite a few problems, the education here is overall very good, and if you are coming to Egypt, this is the school I recommend.

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