I CHAPTER - OVERVIEW & II CHAPTER - ORGANISATION MEDUCA

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1 PARENT HANDBOOK

2 Table of Contents I CHAPTER - OVERVIEW Overview of our School Mission, Vision and Motto Core Values and Beliefs Admissions & Placement of Students Class Sizes Discipline Guidelines (philosophy) II CHAPTER - ORGANISATION Board of Directors The Headmaster/Headmistress The Leadership Team The Parent Council The Student Council III CHAPTER - CURRICULUM MEDUCA International Baccalaureate Organization Learner Profile PYP (Primary Years Programme) MYP (Middle Years Programme) IB Diploma Program IV CHAPTER - SERVICES Exceptional Education Program Counseling Services Additional Language Support Transport Nutrition Health V CHAPTER - STUDENTS

3 5.1 Student Rights & Responsibilities School Uniform and Dress Code Dress Code Violations Behavior Policy Anti Bullying Policy Acceptable Use of Technology Use of Lockers Late arrivals and Absences Homework and Homework Violations Co- curricular Activities (CCAs) & Extra curricular Activities (ECAs) ECA Policies & Procedures Passport Adventures Respect for Property Toys, Games, Computers and Electronic Equipment Jeans Days Lost and Found School House System School Mascot VI CHAPTER - PARENTS Expectations Communications Community Complaints and Grievances Emergency communication Renweb (to be implemented starting August 2013) Payments and Refunds Transitions Committee Changes in Family Dynamics Health Notifications Medical Care When to Keep Children at Home Pick- Up and Drop- off Procedures

4 6.8 Bus Policy & Procedures Notification of Changes in Transport Sign- out Birthday Celebration Policy Leaving the MET VII CHAPTER ADDITIONAL INFORMATION National Anthem of Panama Metropolitan School Anthem Directory of Communications School Terms and Abbreviations

5 CHAPTER I OVERVIEW 5

6 1.1. Overview of our School The Metropolitan School of Panama is a private international school that opened its doors in August of 2011, and is setting a new standard of excellence for private schools in Panama. Located within the City of Knowledge, Clayton, Panama City, the MET is currently offering classes to students in grades Pre- K3 to 9th grade. The MET is currently working towards obtaining authorization to become an IB World School and has already been granted official candidate status for the Primary Years Program (PYP), Middle Years Program (MYP) and Diploma Program (DP) by the International Baccalaureate Organization. The MET is a member of the Council of International schools (CIS), the European Council of International Schools (ECIS) and the Latin American Heads Conference (LAHC). Multinational, with small class sizes, the MET offers a balanced University preparatory program integrating the very best of International and Panamanian curriculum that will allow mastery of English and Spanish and working knowledge of Mandarin. The MET places a strong emphasis on the arts, Panamanian culture, competitive athletics, cutting edge technology, and the promotion of values and community service, aiming to instill in all our students the skills, attitudes and judgment necessary to succeed in life. 6

7 1.2 Mission, Vision and Motto Our Mission Our community is committed to each child reaching their personal level of excellence through a balanced academic program that nurtures their self- esteem and potential, and engages them in the world that surrounds them. Our Vision To set a new standard of excellence for private schools in Panama by providing a world class academic program in an educational environment that stimulates the development of talent, the formation of moral character and a sense of civic responsibility. Our Motto Passion and Excellence in all we do. 7

8 1. 3 Core Values and Beliefs The following core values and beliefs guide us in our endeavor to create an environment that practices respect, embraces diversity, upholds nature and inspires a passion for learning. Each student has a treasure within, waiting to be discovered Knowledge is an instrument for self and collective understanding Our acts and actions must be guided by ethical values and executed with excellence Academic achievement of our students is the school s priority We commit not only to educating but also to forming responsible members of society Respect is the foundation of our learning community 8

9 1.4 Admissions & Placement of Students In selecting new students, the admissions committee places great importance on the applicant's potential - indicated by testing, teacher recommendation and past performance in prior schools. Other qualities are given significant consideration as well. The MET is looking for well- rounded students of good character, whose families embrace the values and mission of the Metropolitan School of Panama. EEP Services All admission decisions are based on whether the school can provide a program that meets the individual needs of the student. If a particular student requires our Exceptional Education Program (EEP) services, the admission of this student will depend on space availability and will incur additional fees. EAL Services The school does accept students with language needs. If a particular student requires our English as an Additional Language (EAL) services, the admission of this student will depend on space availability and will incur additional fees. Placement Age and previous schooling provide the starting points for a discussion on placement, but the student s needs, academic record and the school s initial assessment are other factors that will also be considered. AGE By first day of class in August in the year of entry The MET (US system) GRADE LEVEL UK 3 Pre- K3 Nursery 4 Pre- K4 Reception 5 Kindergarten Year 1 6 Grade 1 Year 2 7 Grade 2 Year 3 8 Grade 3 Year 4 9 Grade 4 Year 5 10 Grade 5 Year 6 11 Grade 6 Year 7 12 Grade 7 Year 8 13 Grade 8 Year 9 14 Grade 9 Year Grade 10 Year Grade 11 Year Grade 12 Year 13 9

10 1.5 Class Sizes The school currently has the following guidelines for class sizes: Pre- Kinder 3: average class size of 16 students Pre- Kinder 4: average class size of 18 students Kindergarten: average class size 20 students Grade 1 Grade 12: average class size of 24 students In addition to the class teacher, Pre- Kinder 3 to 1 st classrooms also have a full time teaching assistant. 10

11 1.6 Discipline Guidelines (philosophy) At the Metropolitan School of Panama, we understand the importance of developing the whole child, ensuring that our students become well rounded and balanced individuals. We believe a fundamental aspect of this is to teach our students the importance and value of self- control, respect and reflection. We consider that respectful and responsible citizenship is a key attribute. Therefore we aim to instill in our students an understanding and acceptance that their duty, to others and themselves, is to develop a positive culture where there is a respect for the learning environment. We work in partnership with our students to equip them with the tools to act in a responsible manner, contributing to the whole MET community. 11

12 CHAPTER II ORGANISATION 12

13 2.1 Board of Directors The Board of Directors of the Metropolitan School of Panama is comprised of the six Founding Members of the school. The main role of the Board of Directors is to set the general direction of the school and insure that the school has the resources to accomplish its stated mission. Other Board responsibilities include the following: Supervise that the Mission and Vision of the school is being respected. Review and approve the operating budget, and monitor compliance. Take decisions regarding school policies. Communicate with the MET Community when required. Receive, analyze and draw conclusions from reports presented by the Headmaster. Recruit and evaluate the Headmaster. 13

14 2.2 The Headmaster/Headmistress The Headmaster/Headmistress has the responsibility for the overall administration of the school. His/her function is to facilitate the overall educational process through supervision of teachers, curriculum planning, inter- disciplinary cooperation, and implementation of policies consistent with the educational welfare of the students and the positive development of the school, in line with the MET philosophy. The Headmaster/Headmistress serves on the School Leadership Team and reports directly to the Board of Directors. 14

15 2.3 The Leadership Team The Metropolitan School of Panama s Leadership Team is led by the Headmaster/ Headmistress and includes the following staff members: The Spanish/Estudios Sociales Department Coordinator The Spanish/Estudios Sociales Department Coordinator liaises with the Panamanian Ministry of Education and ensures the school meets Panamanian educational requirements. The Middle School (MYP) Principal The Middle School Principal is responsible for the daily operations of the Middle School including student welfare and discipline (Grade 7 Grade 10). The MYP Curriculum Director The MYP Curriculum Director is responsible for curriculum planning and delivery within the Middle School (Grade 7 Grade 10). The Elementary (PYP) Principal The Elementary Principal is responsible for the daily operations of the Elementary School including student welfare and discipline (Pre K 3 Grade 6). The PYP Curriculum Director The PYP Curriculum Director is responsible for curriculum planning and delivery within the Elementary School (Pre K 3 Grade 6). The Admissions Director The Admissions Director is responsible for the admissions process for all students, from inquiries to enrolled students. The Business Manager The Business Manager is responsible for managing the non- instructional activities of the school involving all daily office management, business affairs and non- instructional administrative matters in the school. 15

16 2.4 The Parent Council The Parent Council is comprised of 7 parents who are elected by the school community. The roles within the council are: President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, Early Years Representative (Pre K3 Kinder), Elementary Representative (Grade 1 - Grade 6) and Middle School Representative (Grade 7 Grade 9). The main responsibility of the Parent Council is the organization of class representatives, raising funds for school projects, organizing special day celebrations and decorations and recommending improvement projects. Additionally, the council can make suggestions to the Headmaster/Headmistress about ways the school could improve. Class Representatives Every year, one parent volunteers to represent each class across the school. The class representative s role is to act as a contact for other parents, staff and the school. They can arrange social functions in either class or grade levels to help develop communication links between parents and staff. 16

17 2.5 The Student Council The MET Student Council is a student- based organization that promotes leadership as well as civic responsibility. When students participate in Student Council, they have the opportunity to demonstrate their involvement and commitment to school life. Student Council members plan and carry out fund- raising events and awareness campaigns to enrich students school experience by fostering a sense of community and school spirit. As representatives of the MET student body, students interested in joining the Student Council must display exemplary academics, personal responsibility, and conduct. Just as we encourage all students to embody the Learner Profile Traits, we expect Student Council members to uphold these characteristics of internationally minded citizens. Students who want to run for Student Council paste signs around the school during the campaign week, to highlight their personal qualifications. They can also pass out handmade items to encourage fellow students to vote for them. In order to develop public speaking skills, they prepare and deliver speeches to explain why they are the best candidates. The key roles in the student council are: President, Vice- President, Secretary and Treasurer. Teacher Advisors facilitate meetings, as well as all Student Council sponsored events. During the weekly meetings, Student Council members contribute ideas and opinions in order to make decisions that will best benefit the entire student body. 17

18 CHAPTER III CURRICULUM 18

19 3.1 MEDUCA MEDUCA The MET is a private school, with an international calendar that meets the requirements of the General Basic Education Curriculum established by the Ministry of Education of Panama (MEDUCA). In addition, to ensure that the school meets world- class international standards, it is seeking accreditation from the following organizations: NEASC The New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) is an accreditation organization, based in the US, which assesses more than 2000 public and private institutions from Pre- K through university. NEASC accreditation uses self- reflection, peer review and best practices as integral components of its assessment process. CIS The Council of International Schools (CIS) is a global non- profit membership organization which assesses elementary, middle and high schools and higher education institutions that are focused on international education and that have the following in common: A desire to provide students with the knowledge, skills and abilities to pursue their lives as global citizens. A commitment to high quality education. The school expects to receive accreditation from these organizations by August 2017 (for Pre K3 Grade 10) and by March 2018 for Grade 11 and Grade 12. Accreditation procedures require grades to be in operation for 2 years prior to allowing a school to formally start the process of accreditation, which is why Grades 11 and 12 will be accredited shortly after the rest of the school. 19

20 3.2 International Baccalaureate Organization The Metropolitan School is seeking authorization from the International Baccalaureate Organization to be authorized as an IB World School. As of this date, the school has been accepted as a candidate school for the PYP (Primary Years Program), the MYP (Middle Years Program), and the DP (Diploma Program). The IB Program is recognized as the leading program in international education, as it teaches students how to think critically and apply what they have learned in different contexts and across disciplines. The IB understands that success in higher education and beyond involves thinking critically and creatively. Although the IB Diploma is widely recognized by Universities in over 140 countries, the benefits of the program are not only academic, as the program focuses on the formation of well- rounded human beings who will be prepared for life and ready to contribute to society in meaningful ways. For more information, please visit the IBO webpage at The school expects to be authorized by the IBO by August

21 3.1.1 Learner Profile The aim of the IB programmes is to develop internationally minded people who, recognizing their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, help to create a better and more peaceful world. IB learners strive to be: Inquirers: They develop their natural curiosity. They acquire the skills necessary to conduct inquiry and research and show independence in learning. They actively enjoy learning and this love of learning will be sustained throughout their lives. Knowledgeable: They explore concepts, ideas and issues that have local and global significance. In so doing, they acquire in- depth knowledge and develop understanding across a broad and balanced range of disciplines. Thinkers: They exercise initiative in applying thinking skills critically and creatively to recognize and approach complex problems, and make reasoned, ethical decisions. Communicators: They understand and express ideas and information confidently and creatively in more than one language and in a variety of modes of communication. They work effectively and willingly in collaboration with others. Principled: They act with integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness, justice and respect for the dignity of the individual, groups and communities. They take responsibility for their own actions and the consequences that accompany them. Open- minded: They understand and appreciate their own cultures and personal histories, and are open to the perspectives, values and traditions of other individuals and communities. They are accustomed to seeking and evaluating a range of points of view, and are willing to grow from the experience. Caring: They show empathy, compassion and respect towards the needs and feelings of others. They have a personal commitment to service, and act to make a positive difference to the lives of others and to the environment. Risk- takers: They approach unfamiliar situations and uncertainty with courage and forethought, and have the independence of spirit to explore new roles, ideas and strategies. They are brave and articulate in defending their beliefs. Balanced: They understand the importance of intellectual, physical and emotional balance to achieve personal well being for themselves and others. Reflective: They give thoughtful consideration to their own learning and experience. They are able to assess and understand their strengths and limitations in order to support their learning and personal development. 21

22 3.2.2 PYP (Primary Years Programme) The PYP is for students 3 to 12 years of age. Overall, the curriculum framework focuses on developing certain skills, concepts, attitudes, and knowledge through units of inquiry that are used in the subject areas typically taught in schools. These units are developed around international themes such as: Sharing the Planet Who We Are Where we are in time and space How the world works How we organize ourselves How we express ourselves The Benefits of the Primary Years Programme PYP students develop a deeper personal commitment to action and service. PYP students have a higher sense of fairness and justice. PYP students respect the views, values, and traditions of other individuals and cultures. For more information, please visit 22

23 3.2.3 MYP (Middle Years Programme) The IB Middle Years Programme, for students aged 11 to 16, provides a framework of academic challenge that encourages students to embrace and understand the connections between traditional subjects and the real world, and become critical and reflective thinkers. The programme consists of eight subject groups integrated through five areas of interaction that provide a framework for learning within and across the subjects. Students are required to study their mother tongue, a second language, humanities, sciences, mathematics, arts, physical education and technology. In the final year of the programme, students also engage in a personal project, which allows them to demonstrate the understandings and skills they have developed throughout the programme. For more information, please visit 23

24 3.2.4 IB Diploma Program The IB Diploma is a challenging, internationally focused programme of study for students aged 16 to 19. The Diploma Programme is designed to provide students with the academic knowledge and higher order thinking skills required for university study and their chosen profession. The driving force behind the Diploma Programme is a philosophy about the nature of international education, which aims to develop the values and life skills needed to live a fulfilled and purposeful life in the 21 st Century. The Diploma framework provides a broad and balanced educational experience and is made up of six subjects and three compulsory core elements, which are taught concurrently over two years. Subject groups (Group 1): Language A1 (Group 2): Second language (Group 3): Individuals and societies (Group 4): Experimental sciences (Group 5): Mathematics and computer sciences (Group 6): The arts Students choose one subject from groups 1 to 5 and one subject from the arts (group 6) or another subject from groups 1 to 5. Three subjects are studied at higher level and the remaining three subjects are studied at standard level. Compulsory core elements Extended essay Theory of knowledge Creativity, action and service The extended essay engages in independent research through an in- depth study of a question relating to one of the subjects they are studying. Theory of knowledge is a course designed to encourage each student to reflect on the nature of knowledge by critically examining different ways of knowing (perception, emotion, language and reason) and different kinds of knowledge (scientific, artistic, mathematical and historical). Creativity, action, service requires that students actively learn from the experience of doing real tasks beyond the classroom. Students can combine all three components or do activities related to each one of them separately. For more information, please visit 24

25 CHAPTER IV SERVICES 25

26 4.1 Exceptional Education Program The Exceptional Education Program (EEP) uses a combination of the MET Universal Inclusion Model and pullout remediation services to support those students with special needs. The MET s Universal Inclusion Model has been adapted using a combination of research- based programs including Response to Intervention (RtI) and an internationally recognized education program. The model is a multi- tiered approach that seeks to prevent academic failure through frequent progress monitoring and increasingly intense instructional interventions at the student s cognitive level. The RtI method was developed as an alternative to placing students in pullout special education services and placing them in a classroom in their least restrictive environment. However, the program recognizes that students sometimes need to be pulled out for additional remediation. EEP is designed to help students integrate in a safe, inclusive environment, using skills and strategies taught in either a co- teaching setting or auxiliary pull- out session. Additional services offered: Behavioral intervention plans Talented and Gifted Individual education plans Academic accommodation plans Counseling support Social skills Psychological testing Progress monitoring Executive functioning skills 26

27 4.2 Counseling Services The school counselor provides academic, career, college access, and social planning for all students. Students who require behavioral support receive individual support that includes pullout sessions with the counselor as well as activities in the classroom. Stages The counseling process consists of 3 different stages: assessment, intervention and closure. Interviews with parents Tests with students Interviews with teachers Observations in classes INTERVENTION Counseling sessions Adjustments in classes Closure with students Feedback from teachers Feedback from/to parents ASSESSMENT CLOSURE Assessment This stage establishes a rapport with the student and is designed to get to know his/her particular situation. This stage takes approximately 3 sessions. The information used includes: interviews with the parents and the child, a battery of psychological tests, interviews with teachers and observations in classrooms. Intervention This stage consists of specific recommendations and interventions that are carried out during counseling sessions and in the classroom. They focus on the issues a student presents at school, taking into consideration all the information collected during the previous stage. This will be based on a clear behavioral plan. 27

28 Closure Before leaving the counseling service, students will close the process and take part in a feedback process. Parents Parental collaboration is fundamental during the counseling process. Parents are allies in the implementation of many aspects of a student s behavioral plan. The counselor will communicate informally on a regular basis with any student receiving individual support. Additionally, there will be two formal meetings scheduled with parents: - - Assessment meeting: to collect information about the child s development and background. Progress meeting: to inform the parents about their child s progress after 3 months of interventions. 28

29 4.3 Additional Language Support English as an Additional Language (EAL) Mission Our mission is to develop and build English language skills, cultural awareness and learning strategies, which enable English Language Learners (ELLs) to become successful and positive contributors to the community in which they live in. Placement within the EAL program Upon admissions, all students entering Grade 1 and up are tested for English language proficiency. If the school considers that the student requires additional language support, placement within the EAL program is a prerequisite for admission, and additional fees for the EAL will apply. EAL Expectations Students on EAL services generally remain on the program for two academic years. This time frame varies depending on the age and attitude of the student. The decision to exit a student from the EAL program is based on the results of language proficiency/progress monitoring tests, the recommendation from the EAL department and the recommendation of the homeroom teacher. Therefore, such decision is solely at the school s discretion. EAL Services English Language Learners are administered Language Proficiency Assessments twice a year. English Language Learners are in the mainstream classroom as much as possible and they can receive two kinds of English language support. 29

30 Type 1: Pull out support English Language Learners (I, IS) Attend EAL pull out classes for 1 to 3 trimesters based on their level of English language proficiency. These classes take place during the registration period. Receive in- class support during language arts and/or content areas classes: which implies co- planning, co- teaching, monitoring progress and supporting instruction in order to scaffold and provide accommodations. Receive UOI (Unit of Inquiry) packet to be discussed at home in the ELL s mother tongue. Receive a progress report per trimester. Type 2: In- class support English Language Learners (SS) Receive in- class support during language arts and/or content areas classes: which implies co- planning, co- teaching, monitoring progress and supporting instruction in order to scaffold and provide accommodations. Receive UOI packet to be discussed at home in the ELL s mother tongue. 30

31 4.4 Transport The MET offers transportation service to students living in the city of Panama, through a bus service contract with an external provider. The MET has established strict guidelines and requirements for every bus that serves on our routes, and the school directly monitors the compliance with these requirements, including the mechanical conditions of the buses and the safety and driving record of each of the bus drivers. According to the school s daily schedule, several bus routes will cover the different areas of the city. It is important to note that bus schedules and routes are subject to change throughout the year as we periodically face changes in the number of bus riders, which require us to expand or consolidate bus routes. Drop- Off Routes will serve the same areas but bus allocation is likely to vary, as not all students depart school at the same time. We currently offer 3 different departure schedules: 1:15pm Preschool Students Bus Routes 3:45pm Regular School- Day Bus Routes 4:45pm Extra- Curricular Activities Bus Routes As the number of students staying for ECAs varies, afternoon bus routes are subject to change. 31

32 4.5 Nutrition A very important part of the MET s educational philosophy is teaching all of our students about life- long healthy eating habits. In this regard, the school provides balanced and healthy meals through our Nutrition Program, which we structure to reflect what is best for your child s present and future health. All MET students are required to be a part of our Nutrition Program. Daily menus vary and include lunch and a snack during the school day. All of our menus are planned with the guidance of a qualified nutritionist, and prepared by skilled chefs and kitchen personnel. All meals are planned to provide the right amount of food for your child and to offer a range of foods (fruits and vegetables, wholegrain foods, varied source of proteins, limit high- sugar and high- fat foods) in order to achieve a healthy and balanced diet. Further, the MET promotes a culture of eating together. It has been researched that eating with others has numerous social and emotional benefits for children, and allows them to model healthy eating habits. Please contact the Health Team for additional information on our Nutrition Program or if your child has any particular nutritional needs or allergies that we should be aware of. 32

33 4.6 Health The MET has a full- time qualified nurse on site daily. The nurse is stationed near the main office area. (7:30am to 4:30pm) The nurse treats minor injuries or illnesses, performs minor first aid, and maintains health details of students. Additionally, all members of the academic staff undertake First Aid training every two years. In the event of a serious injury, illness or for clarification purposes the nurse will contact parents. New students to the Metropolitan School of Panama are required to provide information about medical issues or allergies to the Admissions Director during the enrolment process. 33

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