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The American School Foundation: Educating Global Citizens for 130 Years
By Nina Blake 14-Feb-18
One hundred and thirty years ago, in August 1888, the mother-in-law of American oilman John Davis put a small ad in the newspaper, with the following message: “On the first Monday in August I will open a kindergarten for children from 3 to 9 years of age at 2nd Calle de Iturbide No.2, up stairs [sic]. A thorough course of kindergarten will be given, as it is taught extensively throughout the United States. Terms, $5.00 a month. For further information, apply to the above address. Mrs. Bessie Files.” This is how the American School Foundation (ASF) first opened its doors to nine students in downtown Mexico City, setting forth a 130-year legacy of education based on the core values of justice, understanding, and truth. If the original founders could see the school now, they would find that the dream they envisioned—encouraging students to achieve the highest possible standards of intellectual and personal development, based on an academically rigorous, American independent education—lives on to this day. Besides being the oldest accredited American school abroad still in full operation, ASF is now considered one of the leading private schools in the country, thanks to its competitive K–12 educational programs. Over the years, ASF has achieved something that few others have: a curriculum affiliated with three of the most competitive national and international educational programs. The school is accredited by AdvancED, through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), as well as the Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS) in the U.S. and is authorized as an IB World School. Additionally, ASF is fully recognized by the Mexican Education Secretariat and the National Autonomous University of Mexico. One hundred and thirty years later, ASF has evolved into a comprehensive learning environment, thanks to its ongoing investment and stewardship in state-of-the-art classrooms conducive to interactive learning. It additionally boasts the finest technology spaces, science laboratories, athletic facilities, and an amazing performing arts venue. As part of the school’s mission to develop responsible and active citizens with a global mindset, the school implemented in 2009 a series of sustainable building practices on campus in the framework of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program. That year, the Upper School and Sheila Rafferty Ahumada Administrative Building remodeling project was completed, integrating the school’s first LEED-certified green building. Two new LEED-certified green buildings followed in 2016, the Ángeles Espinosa Yglesias Fine Arts Center and the Jenkins Foundation Wellness Center, creating resource-efficient facilities for students that use less water and energy and produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Both buildings have green roofs. Of course, it is only natural that innovative facilities should house pioneering classes, which is something ASF has always strived for. This is why the 2017–18 school year is bringing major advancements to the learning experience of American School Foundation students through four new digital initiatives. Connected Educators is a program aimed at training faculty members in using educational technology for teaching and learning while keeping students responsible for their own progress, as they take their learning to new levels. In an effort to support teachers-as-learners, ASF will focus professional learning for the 2017–18 school year on transforming learning through a tiered system of training, encompassing innovative strategies for lesson design and delivery. Teachers will receive comprehensive training on iOS devices and programs, while increasing their current knowledge of Google Apps for Education. The goal is to continually create relevant, transformative learning experiences in their classrooms, leveraging the standardized Bring Your Own Device Strategy (BYOD) model for all students. A revised BYOD policy clarifies what and how digital devices will be used in the classroom, and ensures that everybody will have access to a device. As a progressive learning institution, ASF prioritized the integration of modern tools in all learning processes. This model strengthens initiatives for preparing students for the changing world in which they will succeed. A New Learning Management System has been acquired to streamline and simplify how students and parents access grades, assignments, and class materials through the ASF website during classes and at home. Thanks to this advancement, teachers now find it easier and faster to post this information, and parents can keep up with their children’s progress. Finally, the school has developed a K–12 digital citizenship program named Connected Citizens that covers topics to be delivered throughout ASF that are aligned to the Common Core State Standards. The program will develop the skills students will need to be successful in a globalized, connected, and changing world. Students, faculty, and community members will be able to create a strong digital portfolio and a responsible digital footprint. The integration of the Common Sense Media standards with the IB model will provide a framework for the ASF faculty and families to successfully implement the program. Looking back now, it seems hard to believe how far the American School Foundation has come. Yet even though so many things have undergone a complete transformation, something essential has remained the same: the founders’ dream of forming kind, well-rounded students, who are prepared to take on any challenge and ready to give back to the world at large. Nina Blake is Communications Coordinator at the American School Foundation A.C., in Mexico City.
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02/14/2018 - Diego Zaragoza Tejas
Thank you, Nina for writing this detailed article. I greatly appreciate you taking the time to promote our school and the fabulous community we have built.