One of the difficulties facing Department-assisted overseas schools is their isolation from current education developments in the United States. To help overcome the obstacles caused by distance from the United States, OS has long supported, through technical and grant assistance, the development of regional associations. These associations provide Department-assisted overseas schools with a variety of educational services, including in-service training of staff, purchasing and recruitment services, and materials development. OS has established and assists the following eight regional education associations.
Established in 1961, AASSA’s mission is to broaden the dimensions of education and to enhance the quality of teaching and learning in member schools. Its member schools vary greatly in size, facilities and composition of student bodies, but they are all private, non-profit, college preparatory institutions offering a predominantly American curriculum taught in English. Each of the schools provides a variety of programs. By combining U.S. and host country courses of study, many of the schools grant both host country and U.S. diplomas. An increasing number of schools offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) programs, Advanced Placement (AP) courses, English as a Second Language (ESL) and computer science. Programs for both learning disabled and gifted and talented students are also included in the curricula of many schools. All Full Member AASSA schools meet accreditation standards set by the AASSA Board.
A major focus of AASSA’s efforts is devoted to annual in-service programs which occur at the annual conference and at training workshops held throughout the academic year and during the summer. In September 2010, it held the Governance Conference for heads of school and board members in Miami, Florida. At the end of November and the beginning of December 2010, the Association’s school directors will participate in the AdvanceEd annual conference held in Atlanta, Georgia. Its theme will be “Best Practices in Latin American Schools” with the goal of translating theory into actions that successfully promote excellence among students, schools and districts. In 2011, AASSA will hold its annual Educators’ Conference for principals and teachers in Campinas, Brazil , with the theme of “Teaching the 21st Century Learner: Connecting Kids with the Future.”
AASSA is presently developing an OSAC project, The Development and Implementation of a Teacher Assessment and Evaluation System for American Overseas Schools, which will provide a standards-based performance evaluation system for teachers that includes a detailed, step-by-step process for developing an assessment and evaluation system for teachers.
The Tri-Association was established to provide services and information to three regional educational associations: the Association of American Schools of Central America, the Association of Colombian-Caribbean American Schools, and the Association of American Schools of Mexico. The combined membership of these associations totals approximately 60 schools.
In October 2010, the Tri-Association held its annual Educators’ Conference, 21st Century Education, in Monterrey, Mexico. Keynote speakers included Dr. William Durden who addressed A Few Things that Need to Be Fixed in Pre-Collegiate Education; Ms. Debbie Silver, whose presentation was a celebration of the education professional and the importance of educators in the lives of students; and Dr. Ian Jukes whose careful examination of several global trends challenged basic assumptions about the present world and its future.
The Association’s project for the Overseas Schools Advisory Council (OSAC), Mano a Mano: Mentoring and Advocacy for Early Childhood, has just been completed. It continues and expands a successful project that OSAC funded twice – once in 2004 and again in 2006. The project provides a new group of 20 early childhood teachers from schools and countries not previously represented in earlier projects with current information on best practices in early childhood education. The development, implementation and support for a counseling program were specifically designed for international/American students.
AISA is an organization of international schools located in Sub-Saharan Africa. The membership is very diverse, ranging from schools of 20 students to those enrolling more than 2000. Some schools have an essentially American curriculum, some are British and some have a host country curricular orientation. All have an international focus defined as having multinational students, staff or academic emphasis. It is a requirement that member schools be accredited by an international accrediting organization.
Its goal is to serve the needs of nearly 29,000 students and 1,800 teachers and administrators by promoting educational best practice, fostering intercultural understanding and supporting professional development.
AISA sponsors conference(s) yearly. In 2010 the annual conference was held in Nairobi, Kenya and included a Leaders’ Retreat, an Educators’ Conference and a Business Managers’ Institute. In addition, several post-conference workshops were available.
Over the years, AISA has participated in numerous projects sponsored by the Overseas Schools Advisory Council (OSAC), including three very popular programs supporting best practices for educating young people with special learning needs. Recent AISA projects include a Consultant Pool listing skilled professionals around the continent and the development of a network of psychologists and counselors willing to provide mental health services for those schools without them.
The Central and Eastern European Schools Association (CEESA) was founded as a result of the growth of American and international schools in Central and Eastern Europe. In many cases, the schools were geographically isolated from each other and from the mainstream of American and international education. Membership now includes more than 60 schools and more than two dozen associate member educational institutions and businesses.
The Association’s main mission is to promote professional growth by providing services for its member schools, educators and administrative staff and by developing programs for students in these schools. It sponsors cultural events for students such as choral and band music festivals and high school and middle school knowledge bowl competitions. It also sponsors a sports league for middle and high school students for basketball, swimming, softball, soccer, tennis and volleyball games hosted by member schools.
CEESA holds an annual conference for teachers, a small school institute for administrators, and a fall and spring Board of Directors’ meeting. The 2010 annual conference was held in Tallinn, Estonia. Among the topics covered were environmental issues, service learning, cultural awareness, parental involvement, storytelling in the classroom and learning disabilities. In 2011 the conference will be held in Budapest, Hungary.
CEESA continues to contribute to the Educational Assistance Program funded by the Overseas Schools Advisory Council. It is in its second year of an OSAC project, Integrating Service Learning for Academics & Civic Engagement in American Overseas Schools, which provides a model to facilitate the integration of service learning as an effective teaching tool and develops sustainable service learning processes in the schools to enrich learning and community. The project will also create a publication, Service Learning: A Promising Practice for Overseas Schools. The publication will describe the most current thinking about service learning and its applicability to American overseas schools and will give specific answers to questions facing these schools and numerous examples of what works as the schools integrate service learning in their curricula.
Additional projects have included Creating a Comprehensive Emergency Procedures Manual for Overseas Schools completed in 1998 with four additional revisions in 2003, 2006, 2007 and 2008. The 2006 revision included a new chapter entitled Emerging Infectious Diseases/Pandemic Flu with a series of charts outlining steps to be taken in the event of a pandemic disease, which can also be accessed on the Internet at www.state.gov/m/a/os/c17197.htm. The revision completed in 2007 provides chapters dealing with terrorism and trauma, their prevention and after-the-fact management. The 2008 revision provides the latest ideas and information on the handling of emergency situations. The 2008 updated version has been widely distributed to Department-assisted overseas schools as well as other international schools
Membership in EARCOS is open to elementary and secondary schools in East Asia which serve an international population as well as offer an educational program using English as the primary language of instruction. Its membership includes 115 elementary and secondary schools with a total of more than 83,000 prekindergarten through grade 12 students and over 9,700 teachers and administrators.
EARCOS’ primary goal is to provide professional development for educators in the American/international schools in the East Asia region. EARCOS sponsors two conferences a year, one for administrators in November and one for teachers in March. These conferences consist of workshops, keynote addresses and vendor exhibits on current educational materials and supplies. EARCOS also coordinates weekend workshops for teachers during the school year, hosted by member schools, on such topics as differentiation, assessment, enhancing math and reading skills, counseling, science curriculum, early childhood literacy, curriculum mapping and English language learners. In addition, EARCOS continues to sponsor annual technology conferences and to provide support to schools in the region which host the Global Initiative Network (GIN) conferences for students.
In 2010, the EARCOS Teachers’ Conference, “Living and Learning in the 21st Century,” was held in Manila, Philippines, in March. Topics included teaching for sustainability, meta-cognition, counseling techniques, learning styles, biodiversity, the 21st century educator, accreditation issues, ecosystems and the pedagogy of art and social practice. The theme of the EARCOS Leadership Conference, held in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, in November, was “A Place Called School in 2030.” Some of the topics covered at that conference included education in the age of globalization, making the most of teacher appraisal, assessment for learning, recruiting teachers with high emotional intelligences, using data to guide school improvement, connecting with your community and instructional coaching..
ECIS is an international school membership organization that provides services to support the professional development of teachers, staff administrators, and board trustees; to develop and evaluate school curriculum and instruction; and to strengthen leadership and school governance. Member schools are located in Europe and throughout the world.
Among its many services, ECIS holds an annual conference in the fall, which includes not only teachers and school administrative staff, but also administrative assistants and secretaries. Approximately 3,000 delegates attend this conference. Sessions are offered on such topics as teaching art, Advanced Placement, teaching music, community service, cross-cultural issues, special needs for both gifted and learning disabled children, early childhood education, guidance and counseling, environmental education and information technology. ECIS also holds an annual administrator’s conference in April, which is attended by approximately 500 school directors, deputy directors, senior teachers, board trustees, development officers and business managers. This conference includes an in-depth review of current educational issues.
In November, 2010, the annual ECIS conference, held in Nice, France, included sessions on many education issues including leadership, special needs, virtual language learning, family function and purpose, story-telling, sexual orientation and gender identity in schools, differentiation in the classroom and global issues/global citizens. The conference also held a panel discussion on the latest developments in U.S. public and private education, American Education: The Road to Common Core Standards. Panel members included Robert Gross, regional education officer, Office of Overseas Schools; Edward Hatrick, superintendent of Loudoun County Public Schools, Virginia; Gerald Tirozzi, executive director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals; Barbara Chester, president of the National Association of Elementary School Principals and Principal of Cherry Park Elementary School, Portland, Oregon, USA; and Jana Frieler, president of the National Association of Secondary School Principals and high school principal of Cherry Creek School District, Greenwood Village, Colorado, USA.
Mediterranean Association of International Schools (MAIS)
MAIS was established in 1981 and represents 33 schools located in Spain, Italy, Portugal, France, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, and Cyprus. All MAIS schools offer an American-based curriculum, although their geographic location and the diversity of their student bodies and communities are an important influence on their educational programs.
The Association emphasizes professional development in its services for teachers, administrators and school board members. MAIS sponsors an annual conference in November for teachers and administrators. In November 2010, the annual conference, Cultural Crossroads, Learning for the Future, was held in Tunis, Tunisia.
MAIS has developed several projects funded by the Overseas Schools Advisory Council, among which are MAIS ZOOM, which integrates new technology into the science curricula in grades 6-8; Integration of Science and Mathematics Instruction in Grades K-6; a standards-based science and mathematics curriculum instruction and assessment project; and ECO-MAIS, which assists international schools to develop, construct and use schoolyard habitats as study sites. During 2007-2008, MAIS developed MAIS ZOOM/2, an extension of MAIS ZOOM. The project has been extended to include students in grades 3 through 5 plus transitional grade 6, combining microscopy with digital cameras and computers to zoom in on microscopic worlds.
NESA’s membership includes more than 90 international schools in the Near East and South Asia. Its mission is to facilitate sustainable and systemic school improvement, based on the best practices of American and international education in order to maximize student learning. In January 2010, it held the Winter Training Institute in New Delhi, and in March, the Spring Educators Conference in Bangkok. For the fall they held their Fall Leadership Conference in Kathmandu and Fall Training Institute in Dubai. The programs featured keynote presentations, general interest seminars, extended ‘institutes’ and member-produced workshops.
In spring 2007, the NVSF also expanded by creating the fifth grade NVSF called the NVSF5th Project, which is supported by the Office of Overseas Schools (OS) and the Overseas Schools Advisory Council (OSAC). NESA tested the proposed expansion with three schools and then was awarded a seed-grant through OS to provide training, curriculum development and support for fifth grade teachers. The project has now expanded to thirteen schools, ten of which are NESA schools. This project which has four NESA coordinators (project directors, e-mentor coordinator and an IT Director) will add a science education researcher to the staff to help build more support with 5th grade teachers in infusing better “habits of science” into the 5th grade project.