Tel Aviv, Israel Report of what it's like to live there - 07/04/14

Personal Experiences from Tel Aviv, Israel

Tel Aviv, Israel 07/04/14

School Name:

School Name: Walworth Barbour American International School

Background Information:

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

Elementary and Middle School

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

2010 - 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)?


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

No other options.

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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?

D: Certain counselors regard themselves as Czars.

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

C: If you're 'in', then you get some latitude and can seek ways to build comfort and support structures. The MS has a new student camping trip (new students are paired with 'buddy' existing students, thus helping the new students take the edge off of the transition). The ES doesn't offer anything tangible.

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Administration & School Procedures:

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

If your child is 'normal', the s/he will fit right in. The school has virtually no resources -- much less desire -- to support gifted students or those that require additional support, i.e. learning disabilities.

The ES program is substandard in almost every aspect. It boils down to glorified day-care. Kids clearly don't come home stimulated and inspired. The quality of the 'home-work' is equally disappointing inasmuch as it doesn't appear to connect to any learning process.

The MS program is marginally better, but you will experience this 'improvement' only if your child is lucky enough to be taught by some of the teachers that are truly dedicated to teaching and academics.

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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:

D: Students and their families are largely regarded as commodities by the school's administration. Legitimate needs and issues appear to be balanced against the administration's own agenda, which never supports the cohesive environment a school should have.

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

A: With those teachers that are really dedicated to their professional and students.
D: With the rest (and the large majority) of teachers.

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

F: The school does an excellent and consistent job of offering no support or services for either group of students.

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

B: Availability
C: Variety and quality

It seems strange that a school with so many resources, that finds itself in a country that can offer countless outdoor and indoor activities year-around, can only put together basic after-school activities that barely create interest.

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6. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:

D: A solid and dedicated approach to academics by the teachers and administrators will create the necessary environment for students to understand that standards are high at WBAIS. Until then, just hope your child doesn't need anything outside of the 'normal'.

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7. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):

B: MS. Can't really complain about the quality or quantity
D: ES. Why bother given the current approach and emphasis?

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8. Administration-parent communication:

D: Depends on the time of day, mood, desire, and if you have something (more than tuition) to offer.

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9. Teacher-student communication:

Didn't appear to be anything inappropriate during our enrollment at WBAIS.

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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?

Yes: Almost everything at the ES level is lower than basic.

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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:

From what we've heard, special-needs students (and their parents) only become more frustrated and resigned.

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


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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?

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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?

B: Library is conducive for reading and appears to offer a well-rounded collection of books, periodicals, and reference material.

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

A: Good use of dedicated laptops for MS students, Wi-Fi throughout the school, and technology-based learning sites/resources.

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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?

A: WBAIS has a strong PE program...about the only subject that seems to get resources and administrative support. If your child enjoys sports, then you'll enjoy WBAIS' sports program.

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

A: This was not a problem during our time at WBAIS

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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?

F: No IB program (despite a huge demand for this).

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

For the ES: NO
For the MS: Yes

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

B: WBAIS offers a good range of art/music/drama electives and kids appear to enjoy them. It would be nice to see the teachers apply some more determination to their electives, however, since all the concerts we attended lack in both luster and quality.

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

Yes and almost all do speak English fluently.

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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...none exists.

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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?

Yes, but they are mostly basic stuff that doesn't inspire much real interest.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What is the greatest strength of this school?

Nice campus, a few really good and dedicated teachers, and a strong PE/sports program.

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2. Greatest challenge?

An administrative structure that really needs to be revamped and probably replaced.

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3. Would you choose this school again? Why?

Only if no other and accredited option exists. Once another international school opens that offers IB and special-needs support, WBAIS will understand the saying of "what goes around -- comes around".

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