In what town or city is this school located?
How would you describe this school? (i.e. American, British, International, Local, etc.)
What grade levels are represented at this school?
pre-K - 12
How do most children get to school everyday? (bus, train, walk, etc.)
There is no bus service. Parents drive their children to school - and pickup as well. However, traffic around the school is not bad, and the school has implemented a very efficient drop-off, pick-up traffic routine.
Most of the children live in the surrounding neighborhood of Marina Vallarta.
How would you describe the facilities at this school? What extra-curricular activities are available?
Grounds are large with lots of green spaces. School buildings are old but well maintained. Playgrounds have large overhead tents that block the intense Puerto Vallarta sun. Overall, it is a very attractive learning environment.
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?
Socially, nothing. Most of the children are Mexican, most began at the school at kindergarten - so it is very difficult to break in from the outside.
Our child went to the school for 3 years, for the first 2 years, no one spoke to her. She ate lunch every day alone, played on the playground alone. It was heart breaking. The school administration believes nothing can be done to change this. But we move frequently and never experienced this type treatment before. By the end of the 2nd year, our child was finally included, and the situation improved. Not all new students have this same type experience - perhaps it depends on your child. But, for us, it was tough.
Academically, the school did a wonderful job teaching our child Spanish. She came not knowing one word - 2 years later she was fluent. The school gave her one-on-one teaching in Spanish for 2 years. Our daughter's Spanish teacher was wonderful beyond description.
How would you describe the social activities available for parents through this school? Are there parent-teacher organizations?
Parents are extremely active in the school. School parties and events are a big deal. The science fair is a huge event. The involvement of parents is a big plus for the school.
What advice would you give to someone considering enrolling their child in this school?
We had a very mixed experience. We wanted our daughter to experience another culture and learn Spanish. In this respect, we were very successful. Our daughter speaks Spanish fluently and with a Mexican accent. And, exposure to a new and different culture has left her a more mature person. Further, Puerto Vallarta is a beautiful place to live. On the down side, this success did not come without a cost. Mexican children are very class oriented, they are good at treating people (and often teachers) as 2nd class citizens. New students are treated as 2nd class. Our daughter reacted to this with righteous indignation. This brought down a tidal wave of pressure and isolation. Other new students seem to be better at figuring our the power hierarchy and moving with it, instead of against it - and they seem to have a somewhat easier time. But this is not an easy school to be "new" at. Finally, the school is behind the USA academically. The school tests their students against MAP scores. MAP scores seem to use the USA public school students as a base. Our daughter scores in the 90th percentile in MAP. However, when we tested her in ISEE (Independent Schools Entrance Exams) comparing her against U.S.A. private school students, she scored in the 40th percentile. So, the school would count as a very good U.S.A. public school, but significantly below average as a U.S.A. private school. However, in fairness, most of the children in the school are not native English speakers, so you must make some allowances when comparing them against NYC private schools.