General Director’s Letter
Welcome to the start of another year of learning and discovery here at Pan-American School. It has been a great few weeks with the happy, smiling faces of students, teachers, and parents filling our beautiful campus once more. Since the return of classes, I have been visiting all grades, meeting with teachers, students and parents, and trying to ask good questions as I get to know the school community. I will be continuing this over the coming weeks, but one thing is already very clear: we all feel a strong sense of community and family here at PAS and are very proud to be a part of this school. I hope that you share this feeling, and I look forward to meeting with you over the weeks and months to come.
Proud to be PAS,
Developing a culture of reading at PAS
We have all heard about the benefits of reading such as increased vocabulary, improved memory, and focus, improved writing skills, and how it enhances your imagination. The concern of many educators today, however, is the amount of time that students actually engage in reading. Some studies show that most students read less than 15 minutes a day. At PAS we desire for our students to become lifelong readers so we have been looking into different initiatives to help build a culture of reading at Pan-American School.
With our prompting, several teachers have taken on the Classroom Book a Day Challenge (#CBAD). This challenge encourages teachers to read one picture book a day to their students for the entire school year. This helps build community within the classroom, develops empathy, provides an opportunity to discuss complete texts, and fosters a joy for the reading experience.
Another point that has come up repeatedly, with regard to building a culture of reading, is the importance of having adults setting the example for the students. I’m happy to say that we currently have 34 teachers and administrators participating in a new initiative this year where we commit to posting the titles of the books we are currently reading, and update them as we choose new ones. We are doing this with the hope of promoting more conversations about books and, ultimately, motivating the students to pick up a book and read. As parents your example is invaluable. We encourage you to take time each day to read with your child and/or discuss what your child is reading. Never underestimate the impact of the time you dedicate to reading with your child.
ECE students and teachers co-constructing their learning spaces
As a Primary Years Program (PYP) School, our Early Childhood classrooms include the practice of creating inviting learning environments. ECE teachers and students have been engaged during the first weeks of school is actively participating in designing and co-constructing their learning spaces.
According to PYP “Beyond spaces, environments also include the relationships among and between the people, the materials, the agreements, and the schedules. Students learn through formal and informal experiences through involvement in everyday learning and school events.” (The learning community, 2018:38). ECE Students have been participating in different classroom activities including getting to know each other and the teacher, building connections among their classmates and with the teachers, sharing their likes and dislikes. They have also been able to explore the different materials available in the classroom and learned how to make the best use of it. Together they have built classroom agreements in order to have a successful year at PAS.
Creating new learning environments and working groups in Primary School
Congratulations to our Primary and ECE staff on successfully becoming the first PYP authorized school in Costa Rica! We received our official authorization letter on July 16th. This is the culmination of over 2 years of work by our staff. Great work PAS Primary Team!
We enjoyed a great welcome back to school assembly during our first week. Our students have enjoyed the first few weeks of bonding as groups and creating their learning spaces together with their teachers. Our focus for this year is on improving student learning skills in the areas of reading, writing, and math.
Applying learning to real world applications in Middle School
MYP Students have started their learning experiences on a very cheerful note! In their Design class, they were presented with a challenge: “The Marshmallow Challenge”. With a limited amount of materials and time, they created the tallest spaghetti tower that could support the weight of one marshmallow on top. Students practiced working through the design cycle by first planning their designs (sketching, planning the required steps), then choosing a plan as a group and delegating tasks. They later started building the tower, evaluated their work and reflected on possible changes and improvements. Our tallest tower was 77cm! It was a great way to both challenge students and remind them of the design process we’ll be using during the coming school year.
The start of the Diploma Programme journey
We are very excited to start the second year of the Diploma Program (DP) with the class of 2020.
This school year brings a lot of important academic tasks as they comply with the requirements of six IB DP subjects, complete the core of the program (Theory of Knowledge, Creativity Activity Service, and Extended Essay), and sit for exams in May of their senior year.
It is important to note that while the DP Program provides strength in academics, it also focuses on creating well-rounded students who address their creative and artistic qualities, maintain physical health, are socially responsible, and give back to their communities. All of these aspects help us fulfill our mission and vision as an IB World School.
Supporting students with their college search process
Attending a college fair is an important step in the college search process. Students and parents have the opportunity to gather information on career options, colleges offer, application requirements while getting immediate feedback in person. Our first college fair will take place on September 12th from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm, with universities from around the world. Take advantage of this great opportunity to start connecting with college representatives and a world of possibilities. We hope you can participate!
Updating and reviewing security features at PAS
This year we have reviewed our security policy and will be reinforcing current campus security measures to align with best practices. Parent vehicle identification, pictures of our parents in our database and other new procedures will be implemented. Most of the new measures are features that will be implemented over the next months in our SIPAS app. For example, there will be centralized information on student whereabouts and location, not just according to their schedule, but whether they did not come to school, requested an early departure, are out on a field trip, or sports activity. For continued quick access to our campus by parents, we will be issuing permanent badges. In addition, to be prepared for emergencies, we had our first drill which practiced “Drop, Cover & Hold” as the standard response protocol for earthquakes, followed by an evacuation.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
As many of you will know, Costa Rica has recently begun a nationwide campaign to vaccinate girls against the human papillomavirus, or HPV. Vaccines are readily available at pharmacies and health centers across the country. If you would like to know more about this virus, please read the article from the PAS doctor here.