Nairobi, Kenya Report of what it's like to live there - 12/03/11
Personal Experiences from Nairobi, Kenya
1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?
2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?
5, 7, 8, 9
3. During what years were you affiliated with this school?
4. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?
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?
2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?
A - We transferred in mid-year and both staff and students were very supportive.
Administration & School Procedures:
1. Describe the general climate of the grade level that you teach or your child attends:
Things are pretty positive at the elementary level and there is typical middle-school conflict/angst at that level.
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:
B - Rosslyn is a missionary school and as such, priority placement goes to missionary kids. This means other expats and local families are sometimes waitlisted. That said, all are accepted and treated respectfully. Many countries are represented at the school, but most prominent are the students from the US, Canadians, Kenyan Africans, Kenyan Indians, and Koreans.
3. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?
A - All of my kids teachers have been easily available via email and responded quickly.I've even had unscheduled meetings with the elementary principal and guidance counselor. I always feel welcome.
4. Services for gifted students who need academic challenge and students with learning difficulties:
B - There are resource specialists at both the elementary and high school level, a full-time guidance counselor, full-time general counselor and a variety of AP courses.There is less flexibility for placing advanced students in higher than grade level classes.
5. Availability and variety of after-school activities for various ages:
A - Plenty for all grade levels!
6. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:
B - As a Christian school, it has definite moral expectations.That said, students and families come from a wide range of backgrounds.My kids have been in uncomfortable situations with foul language and ugly teasing -- but it's no worse than most schools.
7. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):
8. Administration-parent communication:
B - At times there has been a delay in response to emails or cross-cultural miscommunication.
9. Teacher-student communication:
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 - my kids have complained about a mandatory "careers" course, but for the most part are challenged in a grade/age appropriate way.
11. Does your child receive any special-needs assistance or instruction at this school? If yes, what types? Who provides services and where:
12. Do you believe the special-needs assistance is appropriate and fills your needs? Explain:
13. Does the gifted and talented program meet the needs of students? Please explain:
14. Does the school offer a wide variety of elective or non-core classes such as art, music, and drama?
Yes - Very well developed music, art, drama programs, both through classroom instruction and extracurricular activities
15. Please describe any classes or programs that you believe are missing:
I would like to see more flexibility among classes offered at various grade levels for students who are more or less advanced.Currently, for example, an advanced 8th grader would be unable to take a 9th grade math class due to scheduling limitations.
16. Are there academic requirements such as trips or other activities that cost money in addition to school fees?
No - Cultural Field Studies are an integral part of the Rosslyn curriculum and range from an overnight trip to a one week trip in other areas of the country. No additional fees are collected.There are fundraisers throughout the year -- but these are either for charitable causes or the PTA. Neither are required of students.
17. What activities do you feel are missing?
Sports and drama are the biggest supported.I'd like to see more academic clubs -- French Club, Korean Club, Chess Club, etc., at the school.
18. Have your children participated in the activities offered? If no, please indicate why:
19. Does the school provide appropriate assistance to new students?
20. Please describe any problem areas or challenges in social interaction at the school:
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?
A - Rosslyn has a full-time guidance counselor, full-time general counselor, and school chaplain on staff.They are very aware of expat adjustment issues.
2. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?
A - Rosslyn has both an elementary library and a high school library.Both are very well stocked.
3. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?
A - Really superior.
4. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?
B - It's probably good, but my kids complain.
5. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?
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?
A - Quite a few AP classes are available, and the school has been willing to have homeschoolers take those classes or participate in tests. Freshmen are not allowed to take AP classes, and Sophmores are only allowed to take one.
7. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?
8. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?
A - Great drama department, extensive music, band and choir offerings, both competitive and intramural sports (tennis, swimming, rugby, soccer, basketball, track, others...)
9. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?
Yes / No - All teachers are fluent in English, with the exception, perhaps, of some of the foreign language teachers (the French teacher from West Africa and one of the Korean teachers comes to mind.)
10. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.
Yes - My son who is interested in Korean has been given extra tutoring by the Korean teacher
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 - Great drama department, extensive music, band and choir offerings, both competitive and intramural sports (tennis, swimming, rugby, soccer, basketball, track, others...)Not sponsored by the school, but meeting on the premises are Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts. (Boy Scouts meets at the other large expat school, ISK.)
Social & Emotional Well-Being:
1. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?
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.
No - there is more exclusion between the Kenyan Africans and Kenyan Indians. My children do feel more teased by the Kenyan Africans, but it doesn't seem to be a big problem.There is a significant Korean student population.While they are friendly, sometimes they are a bit exclusive.
1. What is the greatest strength of this school?
Diversity.Really, while the school is a Christian school and all the teachers and some of the curriculum choices reflect that, the student body and families are very diverse.I find this mix to be really positive.It isn't a party school or "exclusive" as some expat schools have the reputation for being.The administration and staff are very dedicated.The current superintendent is actually a graduate of Rosslyn Academy, and I think that speaks highly of the school.
2. Greatest challenge?
Rosslyn can't be all things to all people.I know families with kids at the other prominent international schools in Nairobi who are very happy with their choice.
3. Would you choose this school again? Why?
Yes - It's a good fit for our kids, in spite of my occasional frustration with this or that.That said, we've homeschooled in the past and are considering homeschooling again next year as we have a more developed homeschool support group now, and will likely be transferring mid-year.