Amman, Jordan Report of what it's like to live there - 04/24/17

Personal Experiences from Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan 04/24/17

School Name:

King's Academy

Background Information:

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

Parent of a graduating senior who attended King's grades 10-12 (2014-2017).

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2. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?

US Embassy

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

We have younger kids at ACS and my son went their for grade 9 but it was not a good fit.

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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?

Very clear but also rather involved, including an on-campus interview. The admissions staff is very professional, felt more like a liberal arts college-type set up.

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

Pretty good. The key factor is that King's is essentially a boarding high school that tolerates a certain number of day students. Most of the welcoming/integration is geared toward the boarders to help them adjust to the experience and to develop that community. Some efforts with the day students but not much.

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Administration & School Procedures:

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

Quite good, weekly newsletter from the Head of School. Most communication is filtered through the student's advisor, a faculty member that is assigned a group of 6-7 students to watch over. As the kids are older, there is effort to work with the kids before going to the parents.

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2. Aside from school fees, are there required expenses such as uniforms, laptops/tablets, musical instruments, or field trips that parents are expected to cover? What are the approximate costs?

Uniforms, laptop deposit and some extra-curriculars but much is included, such as lunch and dinner even for day students who stay late. Kings does not put as much emphasis on extravagant international trips or sports tournaments.

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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?

An entire dedicated college counseling department, including a seminar during summer break before junior year to get a head start on essays, narrowing the focus of schools, doing the common application, etc. Kings excels here, living up to the self-image as the equivalent of a New England prep school.

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2. Is there before and/or after-school daycare available? What are the costs?

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3. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?

Wonderful library building.

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4. What are the technology requirements for students? Do they need their own laptops/ipads? How is technology integrated into the classroom and homework?

Laptops provided or students can use their own. Seems to be pretty well integrated. Good IT support.

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5. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?

Amazing facilities. Campus is laid out like a small college with lots of open space, a lower campus with full size track and soccer field, plus a large pool and weight room. Interestingly, there is no PE program or classes. Students have mandatory "co-curriculars" that take place in the afternoons that can include sports.

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

Largest class size was never more than 20, quite a few that are 12-15. Lots of interaction, with an emphasis on class discussion using "Harkness tables", oval shaped tables that make it so everyone can see everyone else.

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7. 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?

Many AP class offerings.

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8. Are students generally challenged appropriately by the curriculum? Please describe any particular strengths or weaknesses in this area. Do you have any thoughts how the curriculum is applied and implemented at this school?

Yes, there are AP and Honors courses and generally an atmosphere of academic rigor.

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

A bit on the heavy side, there is a mandatory O block everyday that is essentially a study hall with additional study time in the evenings for boarders.

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

Top notch music program, including an annual piano performance showcase that includes all skill levels. Drama and dance are also prominent. Art studios have great resources.

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

Yes. Jordanians are probably 30-40% of faculty, good mix of other nationalities with maybe 25% American, including a fellowship program for recent college grads.

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12. What services are available for students with physical disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

A lot of stairs but probably more accessible than any other school I've seen here.

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13. What services are provided for speakers of English as a second language at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

A good number of students arrive with quite limited English proficiency. There is a program to get them up to grade level.

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14. 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?

Surprisingly, sports is not that big a deal here, breaking from what might be expected from the New England boarding school model. That is probably a good thing, there aren't really "rival" schools and culturally Arabs tend to view school for school and sports clubs for sports. As described, co-curriculars are required but include great options like rock climbing, ultimate, MUN, music, etc.

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Social & Emotional Well-Being:

1. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?

Breakdown is more among different nationalities as a big percentage are expats. There is also a divide between boarders and day students simply because the day students aren't around for the activities in the evenings.

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2. Are there are any problems with exclusionary behavior, cliques, or bullying at this school? Please describe any problems your children may have experienced in this area.

Not really. There are some really wealthy kids but the school does a good job of equalizing everybody to the extent possible.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What letter grade (ranging from A, excellent, to F, fail) would you assign to this school based on your overall experience? Would you choose it again?

A-. Some great teachers, a few not so great. Never felt like the Arabic program (required all years) was particularly well-structured or well-taught but that is not unique to Kings. Definitely fosters a culture of achievement and growth without becoming particularly competitive. Facilities are world-class.

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2. Please tell us anything else you think prospective parents and students should know about this school. Thanks for your contribution!

Kings is expensive. Even if you are with the US Embassy, you will pay all costs above what is charged at ACS and that price tag went up significantly for day students beginning 2017-2018. The increase seems to be part of a not so subtle nudging towards more full-time boarders. Kings is about a 30 minute drive from West Amman but traffic is never that bad so it hasn't been a problem for us although it makes for a long day. Kings was the right choice for my particular kid, his personality and his interests.

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