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School name: Academia Cotopaxi, Quito, Ecuador
Director's name: Dr. Bill Johnson
Dates covered: 2003-2007


 
Evaluation 3). 2003 -2007
 
 
Academic integrity of school 10 is top score
1
Effectiveness of administration
1
Academic and disciplinary support provided
1
Director's involvement in academics
1
Fair and equitable treatment by board and director
1
School has adequate educational materials on hand
1
Attitude of local community towards foreigners
8
Cost of living in relation to salary (10= most favorable)
3
Satisfaction with housing
2
Community offers a variety of activities
8
Availability and quality of local health care
9
Assistance with visas, shipping and air travel
8
Extra curricular load is reasonable
1
           

Comments: This school is experiencing a crisis on many levels. The problems started with the arrival of a new Director who tends to have a dictatorial approach.This style does not sit well with the majority of the teachers. There were way too many shouting matches and out of control behavior demonstrated by this Director for any kind of comfort level to be possible at the work place. I mostly kept my head down, and stayed in the classroom as much as possible. Thankfully, I was able to avoid confrontation, but many others were not so fortunate.Some of these rants and fits took place in front of the students. I was embarrassed for him, but at the same time, there was very little to respect.

The students seemed to realize that the power was in their command. They basically ruled. If they were unhappy with the work load, or an assignment or even if they didn't receive a solo in choir, their response was to go home, say whatever they wished, whether it be truth or fiction. Their wealthy parents would then go straight to the Director, ignoring the suggested chain of people to contact in the event of a perceived problem. Rather than re-directing these parents, the director not only encouraged this practice, but continued doing this after a mediator's suggestions to stop this practice.

These dramatic scenes never had a positive outcome. Students having academic difficulties in one class were often switched to other levels, in an attempt to satisfy the demands of the parents. These types of reactionary responses with no input from the teacher often back fired. He often made "on the spot" decisions that appear to be based on emotions rather than facts. The majority of the teachers who were hired at the same time as I, left as soon as the two year contract was completed. Faculty morale is very low. Fear often makes frank dialogue not possible. So, the problems continue. Enrollment is up, but this is thought to be the ongoing effort of the Director to engage in numerous social events planned toward this end.

It's overall a case of attempting to present a cosmetic good show rather than dealing with nor concern for academic pursuit. The economic situation of living in Ecuador is a concern for teachers. The cost of living continues to spiral upward while the salaries have stayed the same or in some cases have been reduced. Quito is a lovely place to live, but was frequently becoming not a safe place, especially for a single woman teacher. Robberies happened to several faculty members, although it was often a case of house invasion during the day, while the teacher was in school. For the most part, I found Ecuador to be a wondrous country, with countless beautiful sights from mountains to the sea. I enjoyed living there very much. But please consider carefully the realities of Academia Cotopaxi, as it exists currently, before signing a teaching contract. This Director has already spoken about cutting the already modest teacher benefits for the future. Collaboration is simply not practiced anymore. The excellent reputation of Academia Cotopaxi is most definitely based upon the "era" before the current director's reign.


 

Additional Comments by a different writer: I was just reading about the horror stories from teachers under the dictatorship of Mr. Bill Johnson, I would like to add that he was in Kuwait before going to South America. While he was in kuwait......when he was there, because he always had an excuse to leave the school, he made life a living hell for everyone. He loves to yell at professional teachers, has no respect for anyone, and will make life difficult for everyone he works with.....this man should not be allowed at any school, maybe that's why he's on the run..........so sorry for you all that are working with him now.

   
       
Evaluation 2). By former student
 

Comments: I'm a former student of AC and I graduated from this school. I agree with some of the things in the previous review that, in fact, many students were spoiled brats that did go complain to their parents and they did go talk to the director over this incident. (I know the teacher who wrote the review and I can say that she is right; she did experience such an offense when one of my classmates failed her midterms and also failed to turn in most of her lab reports. But, because her mother went to talk to the director she got a B grade which as totally unfair to the people that actually worked hard for their grades).

Other than the academic dishonesty on behalf of some of the students that go crying to their parents, this school is very biased, normally foreign students particularly American students get special treatment from the director and they are allowed to get away with many things that in other institutions would have been enough for expulsion. Also the director is truly a dictator in the sense that student government has no effective power to do anything.

The senior class had been asking for a lounge for about 5 years and when they finally got it it was to be shared with the juniors who ended up having the key and then changed the locks. The lounge was closed for the whole year and no one ever used it. Equipment is old in some areas particularly chemistry and the budget is very small but that is because chemistry hasn't been taught for a while and only in the 2004-2005 school year was chemistry given again in AC after almost 5 years of not giving chemistry. Also teachers are rotating out way to fast, and in some cases people expecting to follow out and finish a 2 year course and many good teachers left the school among these are Ms. C. (Chemistry) Mr. S. (history) Mr. C. (Middle school science) Mr and Mrs R. (English and ESL and tutoring), Mr B. and Mrs. H. among many other great teachers that left because the had no incentive to stay.

There are also many good things about this school. The community is very united and classes are exceedingly small (it was a great shock from going to a chem class in high school with only 9 other classmates to a 600 people lecture in University). Also the friendship among teachers and students is very great, students would have no problem to go enjoy there time with the teacher as most of my classmates did. Approaching a teacher for advise is extremely easy and if you have any problems in you learning they will help you gladly always making time for you. The school is very united most people know each other in high school and seeing groups of seniors with freshmen is quite common during the weekends.

The administration is going through some straights depending on where you go. The business admin is terrible it has way to many people for such a small school while the high school admin is quite good and most people know each other and students can always approach any of the staff and faculty with their issues quite easily. The advantages of going to AC is that going to study abroad is encouraged and counselors are helpful even though the current one is quite new at his job and still has to learn a few things.


 
Evaluation 1). 2005 - 2007
 
 
Academic integrity of school
9
Effectiveness of administration
8
Academic and disciplinary support provided
10
Director's involvement in academics
6
Fair and equitable treatment by board and director
9
School has adequate educational materials on hand
8
Attitude of local community towards foreigners
8
Cost of living in relation to salary (10= most favorable)
7
Satisfaction with housing
7
Community offers a variety of activities
8
Availability and quality of local health care
9
Assistance with visas, shipping and air travel
10
Extra curricular load is reasonable
10
           

Comments: I read with some horror the comments made about our director from the two previous entries. Bill Johnston has been an outstanding leader in our school: I came here this year after what was described - by Bill - as a very difficult year with a number of staff that were just a "bad match." The school was seen as very isolated from the local community and not at all local culture friendly. It had also had lost enrollment every year for the eight before Bill came. The school is now growing, new facilities are being built, staff is deeply involved in decision-making, and everyone is much happier than the people who were here before. Of the overseas staff whose contracts were up, only three did not renew - and none of them are leaving because of the school.

Bill Johnston is a great director with a clear vision that helps us all keep focused on the school and the students and I hope he stays here a long time - and I plan to stay, too.