What is your admission process?
Parents of prospective students are asked to fill out applications for admission, and to submit grades for the past three years, solvency and conduct statements (from local schools), and vaccination records. Beginning at 5 years old, each student will be given a placement test that will ascertain the student’s level in English, Language Usage, and Mathematics. Once that has been completed, the Head of School will meet with the parents and student to discuss the placement test results and convey the decision of the Admission Committee.
If we arrive in Tegucigalpa after the school year starts, will you still accept my child?
Because we are an international school, we admit students throughout the school year. Our teachers are skilled in assessing students and differentiating lessons and assessments to meet each child's individual needs.
What makes Discovery School unique from other schools?
There are several things that make Discovery School different than other educational alternatives in Tegucigalpa: • International student body (over 25 nationalities represented) • Low student:teacher ratio (7:1 ratio allows for individualization and personalized attention) • Inquiry-based / hands-on / discovery learning • Literature approach in Language Arts (novels and good literature is read at each grade level) • Differentiated instruction to meet each student’s needs • Cooperative learning techniques incorporated throughout the school • Alternative and authentic assessment methods used to assess student learning and progress • Real-life, relevant experiences linked to learning activities
What are the class sizes at Discovery?
According to our By-Laws, our class sizes are limited to 15 students per class, with provision for up to 18 students in special circumstances. Classes will not have more than 18 students.
What if my child is not fluent in English or Spanish languages?
Students with little or no prior knowledge of the language will receive English or Spanish as a Second Language (ESL or SSL) instruction after initial diagnosis and testing done at the school. ESL or SSL instruction is designed for students to learn to communicate, read and write in the targeted language. Second language instruction takes place during the regularly scheduled English or Spanish classes, and Discovery has a full-time Second Language teacher to work with the students. The instruction is done in small groups (usually 2-4 students) to give the students the opportunity to converse and learn with their peers. This program is at an additional cost to the yearly tuition, and payment is handled through the Finance Office.
What is your approach to bullying at Discovery?
Whenever children are together, there is the potential for bullying. However, because of our small class sizes, the teachers are easily able to detect when students are having difficulties with each other. We intervene and work with the students involved to identify the problems and brainstorm solutions. We make our students part of the solutions, not part of the problem. We have a well-defined policy on bullying, which is articulated in our Parent/Student and Faculty Handbooks.
How do you handle discipline issues?
We believe in positive discipline and in helping students accept responsibility and understand how their actions affect themselves and others. We do not have many discipline problems, because students help set the class expectations and consequences at the beginning of each school year. When an issue arises, the teachers remind the students of those expectations and consequences, and stress the need to make better choices. In the rare instance that something needs administrative attention, we preserve the dignity of the child while making sure that s/he understands and corrects the behavior. Parents are kept informed of any disciplinary issue so they can help us reinforce the expected behavior at home. We are especially alert to signs of bullying, as it can happen in any school (see above). Because of our small class sizes the teachers are able to detect when tension is mounting between students. When that happens, we talk to the students involved and include them in solving the problems. The Elementary tea
What qualifications do your teachers have?
Discovery School hires only those professional, certified teachers who believe in our philosophy and who love working with an international student body. All of our teachers have the necessary teaching credentials, all have teaching experience, and many have Master’s degrees in Education from the United States.
What curriculum do you follow?
Since its inception in 1994, Discovery School has followed a curriculum that is derived from U.S., research-based standards and objectives. Our curriculum is largely skills and inquiry based and teaches students to think critically, question the answers, and develop the tools that will be needed in the rapidly changing world. In 2012 and 2013 the entire faculty undertook extensive curriculum review that resulted in the adoption and adaption of the Common Core Curriculum. The resulting curriculum includes standards, objectives, and assessment strategies.
What literacy program do you follow in the Early Childhood Program?
Our Early Childhood teachers have all been trained in the Building Blocks and Four Blocks Literacy Program, and all teachers are trained and use the 6+1 Traits Writing Assessment beginning in Kindergarten. We have adopted the Writing Process throughout the school, and teachers collaborate with each other to provide the most meaningful and consistent learning opportunities for our students.
What is the Elementary School policy on homework?
We believe that homework should be a meaningful practice of the skills and content that have been addressed in the classroom. Discovery School students have approximately 10 minutes per grade level for homework (i.e. grade one has 10 minutes of homework, grade 2 has 20 minutes of homework, and so forth), plus daily reading to promote literacy (with the amount to be approximately the same as the amount of time for homework). However, any specialist teachers' assignments need to be considered with the class assignments in order to stay within the allotted and recommended period for homework. For this, homeroom and specialist teachers coordinate their homework.
How strong is your secondary academic program?
We believe that we have the strongest academic program in the city, and probably in the country. In spite of our small size, we offer a full range of Advanced Placement (AP) courses, including AP Environmental Science, AP Calculus, AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature and Composition, AP Spanish Literature, AP Human Geography, and AP Visual Arts: Drawing. Our students consistently perform well on the AP exams and receive recognition in the form of scholarships and/or university credit while they are still in high school. We have a rigorous university-preparatory curriculum and very high standards for our students. For those students who are not yet ready for the AP courses, we offer alternative classes.
What is Inquiry-Based / Hands-on / Discovery Learning?
As our names states, we are a discovery school. Learning takes place daily through inquiry-based and hands-on opportunities, which means that our students learn by doing. It involves the child in a total learning experience which enhances the child's ability to think critically. Hands-on learning, however, is not simply manipulating things. It is engaging in in-depth investigations with objects, materials, phenomena and ideas, and drawing meaning and understanding from those experiences. A hands-on approach requires students to become active participants instead of passive learners who listen to lectures or watch films. Laboratory and field activities are traditional methods of giving students hands-on experiences. With technology, students can now participate in a non- traditional form of hands-on education through the use of computers and other electronic devices.
What 'specials' classes do you offer?
In addition to instruction in the core subjects of English, Math, Science and Social Studies, we provide instruction in Visual Arts, Computers, Library, Music, Physical Education, Spanish, and Spanish Social Studies at appropriate grade levels.
What type of standardized testing or external validation does the school offer to measure students' progress throughout the year?
The Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment is administered three times a year to our students in Kindergarten through Grade 10. This supports, guides, and validates our core curriculum. The MAP assessments are computer generated and individualized to accurately assess and report each student’s levels in Reading, Language Usage, and Math. The results of the MAP assessments are shared with parents and used to set goals with the students. The information that our teachers receive from these assessments enables them to accurately and effectively differentiate instruction, projects, and assessment to meet the needs of all of their students, These assessments dynamically adapt to each student’s responses during the testing session. If a student answers a question correctly, the test presents a more challenging item. This continues until a student misses a question, at which time a less difficult question will be presented. In this way, the test narrows in on each student’s learning level, engaging the student with content that guarantees an accurate reflection of the student’s level. Another means of external validation of our academic program is the Advanced Placement (AP) exams, which are developed and scored by the College Board in the United States. We also gather information from PSAT, SAT, ACT, and TOEFL exams to ensure that we are providing instruction and learning opportunities that enable our students to succeed beyond Discovery.
What are the expectations for parental involvement?
We encourage our parents to become involved in the classroom whenever and however possible. We have an ‘open door’ policy in the classrooms, and we view our parents as our partners. When the school and the parents work together, we are able to accomplish amazing things with our students. Our Discovery Parent-Teacher Organization (DPTO) is an extremely active and supportive group in our community. In the Early Childhood and Elementary grades, class parents are recruited to help the teacher in planning field trips, communicating with other parents, etc. Our school is parent-owned, and 7 of our parents are elected to serve on the school’s Board of Directors.
What means of communication does Discovery use to keep parents informed?
The Administration prepares and sends a Monday Memo each week to all parents by email. This includes information on school-wide events, activities, news and other relevant topics. The school maintains and updates the website regularly to ensure that the content is relevant. We send report cards home at the end of each quarter, and we send progress reports home at the mid-point of each quarter. Student-led conferences are required for all parents at the end of the first semester, and as needed throughout the year. Each teacher prepared and updates a class blog or wikispace that keeps students and parents informed of upcoming assignments, tests, activities, projects and events. All Secondary teachers use ENGRADE to post grades and assignments, and these are updated weekly. In order to access the child’s grades, the parents need to get a code from the child or teacher. The Secondary Assistant Principal also has access to these codes. Both the Assistant Principal and the Guidance Counselor are available to help parents if they don’t know how to access their child’s information.
What diplomas are offered at Discovery School?
We offer a U.S. diploma and the Honduran Bachillerato en Ciencias y Letras for those who wish to earn the national degree. The Advanced Placement International Diploma (APID) is also available for those students who meet the requirements from the College Board’s Advanced Placement (AP) Program.
What do you offer in the way of after-school activities and sports?
This year we have added an after-school multi-sports program on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings. Students rotate through a variety of sports, learning proper skills and terminology, practicing teamwork, and having fun! We offer academic preparation sessions for students who need homework assistance. In the secondary program students prepare for Model United Nations, Math Olympics, SAT and PSAT. We also have Student Council, Drama, and a nationally and internationally recognized Choir for all ages. Our choir has performed in San Francisco, California, and they have been invited to perform at the prestigious Carnegie Hall in New York City in July 2014.
What is the make-up of your governing body?
The Board of Directors is made up of seven parent members who are elected for 2-year terms by the parents of the school. In addition, there is one non-voting representative appointed by the U.S. Ambassador to Honduras, and the Head of School is also a non-voting member on the Board. The Board meets once a month, and the beginning of every meeting is an Open Forum for parents, students or teachers to voice their ideas or concerns to the Board.