Preview American School Foundation Mexico City2018-01-03T13:31:05+00:00
Back
ISR Preview

check_mark2159810_smallred18ptThe reviews of this school come directly from our Member Area but may not reflect the current status of this school.  New Reviews are posted daily.  See Most Recent Reviews.

Woman Writing a review of American School Foundation Mexico City

American School Foundation Mexico City, Mexico

Dates covered: 20xx – 20xx
Average Score of all Reviews: 6.5

School Website: http://www.asf.edu.mx/

Review 12) 20XX – 20XX
Academic integrity of school (10 is top score)
8
Effectiveness of administration
8
Academic and disciplinary support provided
10
Director’s involvement in academics
6
Fair and equitable treatment by board and director
6
School has adequate educational materials on hand
7
Attitude of local community towards foreigners
8
Cost of living in relation to salary (10= most favorable)
9
Satisfaction with housing
9
Community offers a variety of activities
10
Availability and quality of local health care
9
Satisfaction with school health insurance policy
8
Family friendly / child friendly school and community
8
Assistance with visas, shipping and air travel
7
Extra curricular load is reasonable
10
Security / personal safety (10 = very safe in and out of school)
7


Comments:
I am about to end my two year contract with The American School Foundation, and it has been a fantastic experience. I have been working at the Upper School, and while there is always something to complain about in every school, on the whole I would say I felt supported by the administration, worked with teachers who were invested in their teaching, and made great friends with my colleagues. There is always the occasional obnoxious student, but mot of the students at ASF are enthusiastic learners who are a pleasure to have in the classroom. The staff at ASF is mostly young, and rarely a weekend goes by without some kind of party or event going on. Mexico City is a fabulous place to live. There are many beautiful parks, limitless travel opportunities, tons of unique bars and restaurants to try, accessible and cheap public transportation, and a plethora of cultural activities to partake in. If you are bored in Mexico City, it is your own fault. The bus system within the country is incredibly complete and sophisticated, allowing you to travel all over the country in comfort. The school gives you approximately $750 USD (after taxes) for your housing, which is enough to find a modest apartment in a desirable neighborhood that is not furnished. It is easy to sell your furniture when you leave. I have never struggled for money here, even though I am repaying debts in the US. The biggest complain at the school is that the staff does not feel appreciated, and I see many instances of where this idea comes from. I have not always felt appreciated here, either, and I can think of a few cases where I think an employee was not treated as well as s/he could have been. I also think the school does not make staff retention a priority, and while the school advertises many professional development opportunities, does not make it easy to take advantage of them (you need to pay for any conferences or PD you attend if you are a non returning teacher, conference housing is often shared or not provided, approval is needed, etc.). If this kind of thing bothers you, this might not be the school for you. If not, then you probably won’t be bothered by what is most likely the schools biggest drawback. In general, however, I am sad to be leaving Mexico City, and would recommend my experience here to other interested teachers. The city is fun and vibrant and the school does not have problems likely to be found at any other international school.

Review 11) 20XX – 20XX
Academic integrity of school (10 is top score)
9
Effectiveness of administration
9
Academic and disciplinary support provided
8
Director’s involvement in academics
9
Fair and equitable treatment by board and director
9
School has adequate educational materials on hand
8
Attitude of local community towards foreigners
9
Cost of living in relation to salary (10= most favorable)
9
Satisfaction with housing
8
Community offers a variety of activities
9
Availability and quality of local health care
8
Satisfaction with school health insurance policy
6
Family friendly / child friendly school and community
7
Assistance with visas, shipping and air travel
8
Extra curricular load is reasonable
9
Security / personal safety (10 = very safe in and out of school)
8


Comments:
I spent 3 years as a teacher at The American School Foundation in Mexico City and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The curriculum is rock solid and prepares the students for higher levels/grades and for real life. The effort that has been made to put subject coordinators in place helps to ensure a smooth implementation of most curricular areas. The current director, Paul Williams, is an ASF veteran and is 100% committed to the school and its academic rigor and success. Although more computing labs could be available, the school is well advanced in the area of technology and technology integration. As a teacher at this school, I had many opportunities to learn more about my practice through both in-school and out of school professional development opportunities. This school really supports its teachers and I never felt the lack of this support.

Mexico City is a vibrant city with a lot to do. The people are wonderful and it is a good suggestion to branch out and get to know Mexico through its culture and people. The cost of living is reasonable because the city is affordable. The only area for improvement for the city would be the level of pollution. The only reason I moved on from ASF and Mexico City was because I needed a new experience.

Review 10) 20XX – 20XX
Academic integrity of school (10 is top score)
1
Effectiveness of administration
3
Academic and disciplinary support provided
1
Director’s involvement in academics
10
Fair and equitable treatment by board and director
1
School has adequate educational materials on hand
3
Attitude of local community towards foreigners
1
Cost of living in relation to salary (10= most favorable)
1
Satisfaction with housing
5
Community offers a variety of activities
8
Availability and quality of local health care
8
Satisfaction with school health insurance policy
6
Family friendly / child friendly school and community
7
Assistance with visas, shipping and air travel
8
Extra curricular load is reasonable
8
Security / personal safety (10 = very safe in and out of school)
6


Comments:
I taught at ASF for my two year contract. It was only after a student vandalized my room with out punishment (I heard he received a Saturday detention) that I decided not to follow through with another year. I enjoyed my curriculum and felt it allowed me to be creative. I felt certain student who could only fail by lack of participation where able to “buy” a grade. I found the school completely lacking in ethics. I found the principal in the Upper School to be nothing more than a mere red neck, and he is Canadian! If you are serious about teaching and passionate about your subject, forget this place.

Review 9) 20XX – 20XX
Academic integrity of school (10 is top score)
7
Effectiveness of administration
7
Academic and disciplinary support provided
8
Director’s involvement in academics
2
Fair and equitable treatment by board and director
4
School has adequate educational materials on hand
7
Attitude of local community towards foreigners
9
Cost of living in relation to salary (10= most favorable)
7
Satisfaction with housing
8
Community offers a variety of activities
10
Availability and quality of local health care
9
Satisfaction with school health insurance policy
6
Family friendly / child friendly school and community
7
Assistance with visas, shipping and air travel
8
Extra curricular load is reasonable
8
Security / personal safety (10 = very safe in and out of school)
7


Comments:
My Search Associate contact person warned me that this web site was a clearinghouse for disgruntled employees, and that is certainly true to some degree. However, I think you can usually distill the general reality of a school/country situation if you read between the lines and assess the motivation for each evaluation. For the record, I am NOT a disgruntled employee, and I am not some pawn of the school board or administration. I am just a teacher adding my perspective. For ME, the following are true:

1) The Jones are nuts. Maybe not literally, or in any other area of their lives, but about this ASF thing (creating web sites, writing letters to parents, handing out flyers at job fairs?)–yes. Even many of their friends (they were liked and respected by teachers, students and parents) at ASF have come to realize this. Their crusade seems to many people at the school an unhealthy obsession, regardless of how badly the school may have handled the situation initially. The facts of the story, as I have come to understand them, indicate that both parties were liable of some fault at the start of this mess. Of course, the Jones are entitled to share their point of view with the entire world; just keep in mind that the amount of complaining they do, or the volume at which they do it, doesn’t make their perspective about ASF more true or right.

2) The school does not provide the sort of union protections to which most American teachers are familiar. People have been released over the years (as I understand it) without much fanfare, but not for absolutely no reason per se, just without the process and recourse people are used to elsewhere. I supposed you could get fired here without being able to “fight it,” but I have not personally seen that happen arbitrarily to people doing a good job and who have not caused gotten themselves into some sort of trouble. It may indeed be a bit precarious at ASF in this regard, but I think the situation is probably true of most international assignments.

3) The school facilities at ASF are generally nice, (particularly the newer middle school) but certainly not the best I’ve seen internationally. The new construction will hopefully improve things at the high school (the oldest, most outdated building). All the comments about construction debts being tied to teacher salaries are hogwash. I don’t know if the construction is being done economically or efficiently (it IS Mexico) but the salaries come from tuition fees, and are not tied to construction loans.

4) Director Dario Cortes has recently “resigned.” I don’t believe many people will miss him. He was very rarely seen on campus. I don’t think he knew very many teachers names–he certainly never addressed me by mine. His perfunctory speeches were bland and vague. I couldn’t describe for you his educational vision for ASF. I don’t know anyone at ASF who particularly liked or respected him. The new interim director has worked at ASF in a variety of capacities for 20+ years, so perhaps he will get a chance to add some stability to the institution. The choice of the next director will be HUGE for the future ASF. I hope the board makes the right call.

5) Despite being twice as expensive as the next highest tuition in the city, the elementary school doesn’t rank very highly (according to a recent city magazine publication—though what their criteria was exactly I can’t say). They did get high marks on extra-curricular opportunities. I suspect the middle and high school would score similarly. This is not to say the academic level is bad, many kids work hard and do well, but overall it’s just not all it could be in terms of high standards of academic rigor and excellence.

6 It’s true there are many bodyguards and chauffeurs out front, and the campus is a “who’s who” of the sons and daughters of the Mexican rich and famous–but the students are generally quite nice. The idea that they are all a bunch of disrespectful, spoiled brats has just not been my experience over the past two years. Working with these kids has been a very enjoyable and rewarding experience.

7) The faculty and staff at ASF are outstanding. The level of commitment, professionalism and patience, demonstrated by these folks is commendable, especially given some of the institutional challenges they face. Morale has admittedly been down over the past few years–and perhaps this year in particular–but hopefully things will improve in the near future.

8) Turnover of administration and staff is probably the biggest weakness of ASF. Most teachers do not return after two years (I will) and this year the ASF director, head of early childhood school, head of the elementary school, head of the middle school and assistant principal of the middle school are all moving on for various reasons–but obviously not because ASF is perfect for them. Also, the high school principal and two assistant principals are new this year (all three are doing well, in my opinion). What this place could become with some consistency and stability!

9) In my opinion, evaluation #9, above, offers the most balanced view of the school’s situation and life in Mexico. I agree with the suggestion to randomly seek feedback from the faculty email list at ASF if you want to know what it’s like for the international hires here.

10) Mexico, and Mexico City in particular, is an awesome place to work and live. Yes, you won’t get rich saving money here like some international teaching situations, but you won’t go broke either. The weather is fantastic and there’s more to do and see than a two-year contract will allow. ASF is not perfect, and hopefully will improve in some areas over the next few years; but it’s not a terrible place to work either, and on the whole I wouldn’t change my decision to live and work here even if I had the choice to do it differently.

GOOD LUCK!

Review 8) 20XX – 20XX
Academic integrity of school (10 is top score)
9
Effectiveness of administration
7
Academic and disciplinary support provided
9
Director’s involvement in academics
6
Fair and equitable treatment by board and director
7
School has adequate educational materials on hand
9
Attitude of local community towards foreigners
9
Cost of living in relation to salary (10= most favorable)
7
Satisfaction with housing
8
Community offers a variety of activities
10
Availability and quality of local health care
10
Satisfaction with school health insurance policy
6
Family friendly / child friendly school and community
7
Assistance with visas, shipping and air travel
9
Extra curricular load is reasonable
8
Security / personal safety (10 = very safe in and out of school)
8


Comments:
A friend of mine has shared the recent comments about ASF with me and I feel compelled to respond. I have worked here for two years and find the last few reviews to be without much merit, if not just totally untrue.the school is by no means perfect, and the upper bits of the admin are not stellar- but they are not harmful in the way that is made out above. Each of the school principals are excellent and do much to help teachers teach. I work in the upper school and feel extremely supported and lucky to have a job here. That is not to say everyone feels the same way- but that has been my experience as a new teacher. Mexico City itself has been great. it has lots to offer and is close to home- that is an added bonus for me. I like the night life and the trace opportunities from here. Pollution and crime are not as bad as one may think- although this is no utopia either.I am familiar with the case so I would like to add a few words to this case. i hired in with them and I have good friends in the counseling office where Sandy worked. I Know that they have broken contract twice before- once in Bahia Brazil and once in El Salvador. At the beginning of this year Sandy came into school five days late. As a Counselor her contract requires her to come in 10 extra days per year ( for which she is paid extra) She came in late and felt that she was not at all in the wrong- this is how the year started for her. The director did have words with her regarding her performance as a college counselor- and I could see how that may not have been handled as coolly as it could have. Sandy did not return to school for several days- when she did she tried to get teachers and kids to stage a demonstration. This is the part that really bugs me- involving kids- it comes off as extremely unprofessional. From there things went downhill rapidly- I think the school could have handled the situation better- but I also think the Jones were looking to disrupt the learning process to press their grievance. They have since left Mexico and said to be suing the school. There are a few other lawsuits against the school- but that is mexico. Like the US anyone can bring suit and keep it in court for years. The woman they have allied themselves with – Pilar – was released years ago for using the school as a place to promote her business to kids. I think every educator should have a problem with that.Now Tony is moving from job fair to job fair passing out fliers and talking to people abut his experience. On their web page the Jones talk about how important their kids are to them…. yet I would think if they are- one would move on.I love working at the school, the kids, and the faculty. If you are thinking of coming to MX- i would say email a few teachers at random from the school web page and ask them for the skinny- That way you should get a balanced view. By the way I am signed up for a third year.

Sandy Jones Responds to the Previous Review

Dear International Community,

We have consistently asked for transparency and honest discourse. While everyone is entitled to their opinion, if you are going to write disparaging things about our character or work performance, I ask that you do it openly, especially if you are going to resort to distortions, misrepresentations and lies. In the name of decency, I ask that you address me directly.

It is easy to defame another hiding behind anonymity. You do not address the issues (why and how we were locked out of campus) but instead attempt to discredit our character and integrity. This methodology has been employed by the school from the start and confirms my resolve to push for open and honest discourse. I am afraid that these are the same distortions and misrepresentations that have been told to other people in the educational community. We are not perfect, but we are people of good hearts and honest commitment to students. We truly want things to improve at ASF, particularly for students and teachers.

Note: The text of the previous review appears in blue. The response to each point is in black text.

A friend of mine has shared the recent comments about ASF with me and I feel compelled to respond. I have worked here for two years and find the last few reviews to be without much merit, if not just totally untrue.

No where in this entire “evaluation” do you mention what you find untrue about the “last few reviews.” I will address the lies and mistruths that you have written.

The school is by no means perfect, and the upper bits of the admin are not stellar- but they are not harmful in the way that is made out above. Each of the school principals are excellent and do much to help teachers teach.

While I worked at the school, I had very little contact with the principals from the other divisions in the school other than in the ECC (Early Childhood Center) where my children were students, so I don’t have much information to judge but I have no reason to doubt that they are excellent educators committed to their students and fellow staff. Unfortunately, the new Head of the ECC, as well as the Elementary and Middle School heads are all leaving. The Upper School head has been there only a few months. The “upper bits of the admin” were indeed very, very harmful to our family.

I work in the upper school and feel extremely supported and lucky to have a job here. That is not to say everyone feels the same way- but that has been my experience as a new teacher. Mexico City itself has been great. it has lots to offer and is close to home- that is an added bonus for me. I like the night life and the trace opportunities from here. Pollution and crime are not as bad as one may think- although this is no utopia either.

I am familiar with the case so I would like to add a few words to this case. i hired in with them and I have good friends in the counseling office where Sandy worked. I Know that they have broken contract twice before- once in Bahia Brazil and once in El Salvador.

This is a lie. I was never in El Salvador with Sandy. We didn’t even know each other 15 years ago when she was there as an English teacher. Her name wasn’t the same at that time. Fifteen years ago Sandy had to leave a few days early during finals week at the end of her contracted two years for a very personal reason.

In her first letter to ISR, Sandy wrote clearly and honestly that we had left an unnamed school after nearly two months of putting our children in harm’s way (please see above). We never named the school because no one was personally malicious toward us. In fact to their credit, all, including the new director, were sympathetic to our situation, and tried to improve the situation. After many weeks of being told the issues would be rectified, we sadly concluded that it was irresponsible and dangerous to continue putting our children in peril and we decided that we would have to leave. In Iowa last weekend, I met a woman that wanted to go to Bahia. Bahia is beautiful, and from what I understand it has the best Carnival of all of Brazil. I thought about it but didn’t say anything. I didn’t think the school had been unethical just unprepared for a family with small children. When we went to ISS the following year, the school had a sign, “No families with small children.”

At the beginning of this year Sandy came into school five days late.

During the summer, Sandy worked well over the three (not five) days the school says she was late. When we were hired we were never told that she had an extended contract. We found out about it several days before our arrival. Last spring, I asked Tracy Miller, the head of Human Resources, if some of Sandy’s contract could be served over the summer. Sandy worked daily on the college fair (Latin America’s largest w/ nearly 2,000 people in attendance), visited colleges and advised students via email. Tracy agreed that this was indeed work and that she would be supportive of this comp. time. We sent two e-mails (that I have) to Tracy over the summer making sure that it was o.k., so that we could make plans for our return. Unfortunately, Tracy did not respond for nearly a month. By the time she finally did reply we had made our arrangements. When we arrived, Sandy was docked 3 days pay by the new upper school head who she didn’t fault because he had little information regarding the history. I talked to Paul Williams and showed him the documentation of all of her summer work and he agreed to support a restoration of Sandy’s pay.

As a Counselor her contract requires her to come in 10 extra days per year (for which she is paid extra) She came in late and felt that she was not at all in the wrong- this is how the year started for her. The director did have words with her regarding her performance as a college counselor- and I could see how that may not have been handled as coolly as it could have.

I am unsure how you know anything at all about how Sandy felt about this situation. Have you spoken with her? Dr. Cortes’ “words” were abusive and mistaken in nearly everything he said. Sandy was given a 6% raise for her work and offered a leadership role by Dr. Cortes at the end of the previous school year. In Sandy’s one year at ASF, despite significant obstacles, enrollment at overseas universities went up more than 30% from the prior four year average.

Sandy did not return to school for several days-

Sandy was ill.

When she did she tried to get teachers and kids to stage a demonstration. This is the part that really bugs me- involving kids- it comes off as extremely unprofessional.

THIS IS A FLAT OUT LIE! When I was locked out of school, the students (the seniors and juniors) with whom Sandy and I had worked so closely, created a spontaneous demonstration – Sandy was at home. It was me who asked them to go back to their classes; they listened and agreed. At the end of the day, I told students who came outside the gates to the public sidewalk where I was waiting for my daughters to be dismissed from the Pre-K, that my wife had filed a complaint against the director resulting in the subsequent events. I did not feel it was appropriate to talk to them about the situation, and asked them to involve their parents if they had concerns. This is all detailed in the history section on my web-site. We then sent a letter to parents (many of whom were inquiring) explaining our situation. We tried to maintain the utmost concern and professionalism regarding the students – a courtesy the school did not extend to our family.

From there things went downhill rapidly- I think the school could have handled the situation better- but I also think the Jones were looking to disrupt the learning process to press their grievance.

Again, I asked the students to go back to class. Other than trying to return one final day as per our lawyer’s warning that if we didn’t the school could say we were abandoning our jobs, we stayed away from the school because we did not want to disturb the students. We put our hopes in an ethical intervention from the Board.

They have since left Mexico and said to be suing the school. There are a few other lawsuits against the school- but that is mexico.

I would be very surprised if any other school in Mexico has 15 current labor suits, 9 recently settled cases and 3 criminal charges pending.

Like the US anyone can bring suit and keep it in court for years. The woman they have allied themselves with – Pilar – was released years ago for using the school as a place to promote her business to kids.

I cannot speak for Pilar, but to us, she has been kind and supportive as have a great number of the people. This has been a nightmare and Pilar has helped us with the language and understanding the Mexican legal system. Given what has happened to us, and the inaccuracy of most of what this writer says, I am inclined to believe Pilar’s version of events. I am also surprised that a teacher in their second year would be so familiar with the schools legal problems and cases that precede their arrival in Mexico.

Now Tony is moving from job fair to job fair passing out fliers and talking to people abut his experience. On their web page the Jones talk about how important their kids are to them…. yet I would think if they are- one would move on.

Now, this does make me feel angry. You honestly feel that you have the moral authority to judge our parenting? After what the school did to our family (involving our children on three separate occasions) and considering your lack of information regarding our daily interactions with our children, your comments are at best simplistic and at worst completely patronizing. You assume or suggest that by talking about this honestly and openly that it adversely impacts our laughter, our joy, the love we share. I think my wife put it far better than I could in the letter she wrote to parents describing our situation:

“We are not afraid of what our children might hear because as parents we know it is our duty to teach them how to be honest, courageous and act with integrity and decency.” Throughout your evaluation, you have hidden behind the wall of anonymity and presented rumor, gossip, and outright lies as truth. If we can prevent what happened to us from happening to any other person, we will be proud of the lesson we have taught our own children.

I love working at the school, the kids, and the faculty. If you are thinking of coming to MX- i would say email a few teachers at random from the school web page and ask them for the skinny- That way you should get a balanced view.

We agree wholeheartedly! One caveat – use private and confidential e-mails, not school email addresses, or better yet, have a candid phone conversation. I can’t tell you how many faculty members, both local and foreign hires, came to us with their support, but couldn’t support us publicly for fear for losing their jobs. I also am certain that many people have had far different experiences at the school than we have.

By the way I am signed up for a third year.

Your evaluation was helpful. It allowed us an opportunity to expose the lies, disinformation and distortions being perpetrated by the school. We hope our response will inspire you to do some further research to verify the accuracy of your comments. If you are someone in the international educational community who has been told these same mistruths by people representing the school, please contact us. The heart of defamation is unjustly slandering someone’s reputation. We have told the truth and signed our names to everything; we have nothing to fear from the truth. We welcome an open, transparent discussion of why we were locked out of campus – we still don’t have an explanation.

We question the writer’s anonymous evaluation which was not so much an evaluation of the school as it was a personal attack of us. His/her comments have no doubt pleased the very administrators who have hurt us. What do you have to fear by revealing your name?

Review 7) 20XX – 20XX
Academic integrity of school (10 is top score)
1
Effectiveness of administration
1
Academic and disciplinary support provided
2
Director’s involvement in academics
1
Fair and equitable treatment by board and director
1
School has adequate educational materials on hand
3
Attitude of local community towards foreigners
3
Cost of living in relation to salary (10= most favorable)
2
Satisfaction with housing
3
Community offers a variety of activities
8
Availability and quality of local health care
8
Satisfaction with school health insurance policy
5
Family friendly / child friendly school and community
6
Assistance with visas, shipping and air travel
1
Extra curricular load is reasonable
5
Security / personal safety (10 = very safe in and out of school)
5


Comments:
I would avoid this school at all cost. If you are a foreigner from Europe or the United States do not expect administration to help you cope with rich spoiled children who feel they are entitled to any and all liberties. There is a great deal of disrespect shown to teachers, staff, and most of all the support staff who clean up after the poor little rich ones. If you are fine with disrespect, lack of support, lack of discipline, and lack of ethics then this is the place for you!

Review 6) 20XX – 20XX
Academic integrity of school (10 is top score)
1
Effectiveness of administration
1
Academic and disciplinary support provided
5
Director’s involvement in academics
3
Fair and equitable treatment by board and director
1
School has adequate educational materials on hand
8
Attitude of local community towards foreigners
10
Cost of living in relation to salary (10= most favorable)
8
Satisfaction with housing
8
Community offers a variety of activities
7
Availability and quality of local health care
8
Satisfaction with school health insurance policy
5
Family friendly / child friendly school and community
5
Assistance with visas, shipping and air travel
3
Extra curricular load is reasonable
2
Security / personal safety (10 = very safe in and out of school)
7


Comments:
I am a former teacher at The American School Foundation A C which used to be a very good school until 7 years ago. In the summer of 2000, two uninvited illnesses came to our school discrimination and greed. Until this time, staff could expect fair and just treatment. This ended in 2000 when the school and its community crumbled and many of the staff suffered immensely. Although my ordeal is not yet over, I would like to share my story with people considering working at ASF. I do not want anyone else to suffer.

Unjustified firings began in 2000 and reached their peak in the summer of 2005. I was unexpectedly summoned to the personnel office by the Director of Human Resources, Tracy Miller and Paul Williams, the Director of Academic Affairs. I was intimidated and humiliated by the school lawyer Alberto Montes Gaona. There was no reason for me to be fired, no background or wrong doing. The administration tried to pin some wrong doing on me, reason why I found out I was ordered to be followed for the last month I worked there, which I knew until recently. If I had been doing something wrong I should have been put on probation. Instead of being placed on a 30 day probationary period as stated in the staff handbook. I was told, Sign here or you do not get ANY severance pay. You do not have the right to bring a lawyer and if you leave without signing, you do not.get anything that you might deserve for working for so long in the school.

As I was taken by surprise I did not take my glasses with me, I kept saying I cannot see what you are making me sign. The lawyer said we do not care, Silvia Nunez lent me her glasses, and still I could not read what they made me sign. When I asked for a copy the lawyer said, you are not getting any copies, and leave, we have others to fire today and showed me the door.

My experience is not unique. The school has about 20 labor and criminal suits against it. To date, the school has given me no reason for terminating my employment. When asked they kept changing their stories. We used the news paper to denounce the discrimination against Mexicans. We thought this only happened to the Mexican employees, until we started finding out that foreign hires who asked questions were also terminated in the same way. The administration counted on the fact that foreigners did not know Mexican law and their rights as Mexican workers.

The situation got worse when they went after foreign hires like Sandy and Tony. Now we know everyone is at risk. If you are charmed by coming to work in the American School Foundation you know what your chances are, to be one more on the list.

Review 5) 20XX – 20XX
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
8
Attitude of local community towards foreigners
10
Cost of living in relation to salary (10= most favorable)
1
Satisfaction with housing
2
Community offers a variety of activities
10
Availability and quality of local health care
8
Satisfaction with school health insurance policy
4
Family friendly / child friendly school and community
5
Assistance with visas, shipping and air travel
1
Extra curricular load is reasonable
3
Security / personal safety (10 = very safe in and out of school)
6


Comments:
ASF Mexico City, was a very good school in the 10 years prior to the events of 2000, when our beloved Dr, Mary Mend left the school and her second in command Dr. Janet Cruz was forced to leave, also. These two women had supported the academics, the staff, the teachers and the students and their families for a decade, serving as professionals should, with integrity and honesty. They knew about education and Mexican and American relationships and had the support of our also beloved Sheila Ahumada, president of the Board and active member when not in the Presidency.

This fairy tale came to an end when Mrs. Ahumada left, and with her Dr. Mend and Dr. Cruz. The new Board pays no attention to the real needs of the school, teachers and students and their families. Without naming people it seems obvious that the new board has it’s own hidden agenda and it does not seem focused on creating a quality school with teachers that feel valued.

For obvious reasons I am not revealing my name, because I could get fired. But, I am astounded by the arrogance with which they recently fired Miles Reynolds, a tennis coach for 13 years, Vivian Ortiz a swimming teacher for 22, Pilar Fernandez a computer teacher for 14 years, Andelka Isaak, a math teacher for 20 years, and many others were pushed to resign by the board as they neared retirement.

The last power play came when they fired and abused Tony and Sandy. They not only ended their contracts without warning, but they also prevented them from collecting their small children the morning on the morning they were not allowed to enter the campus. They were trying to trick them into signing a voluntary resignation letter like the one they made many others sign. The administration and the board are on trial for all these behaviors.

It is shameful that all Mrs. Ahumada`s efforts to make the school what is was have been ruined by the new board. Mrs. Ahumada always worried about keeping the good teachers and staff. Her legacy left teachers and staff that had worked here for more than 15 years, some for almost 40. It is time the international community knows about this indecent behavior and avoided this school until it gets back on course.

Review 4) 20XX – 20XX
Academic integrity of school (10 is top score)
8
Effectiveness of administration
1
Academic and disciplinary support provided
10
Director’s involvement in academics
1
Fair and equitable treatment by board and director
1
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)
5
Satisfaction with housing
10
Community offers a variety of activities
10
Availability and quality of local health care
10
Satisfaction with school health insurance policy
5
Family friendly / child friendly school and community
5
Assistance with visas, shipping and air travel
3
Extra curricular load is reasonable
6
Security / personal safety (10 = very safe in and out of school)
7


Comments:
Although this may jeopardize our chances to teach overseas again, we believe that it is worth the risk to tell the story of our family’s experience at The American School Foundation in Mexico City.A little history: I am seasoned and well-regarded college counselor with 21 years of experience in public and private education. I have spent the majority of my career, both as an English teacher and a guidance counselor in Minnesota, and, most recently, as the interim director of guidance at a high school in Westchester County. After a career change, my husband was a first year high school social studies teacher. We are seasoned travelers and have both lived and worked in other countries. We are not naive about the challenges of international life. Our dream was to teach overseas in order to combine our passion for travel with our love for teaching; we felt this life would be a great gift to give our children. We went to a job fair, obtained positions at a school in a fascinating country, and sold our home. I was fortunate enough to be able to take an extended leave of absence from my tenured position in the States as a safety measure.Our new school provided housing next to an amazing beach. We were delighted. Then, the gas stove kept exploding and so did the replacement the school provided; there was an open staircase dropping two flights, live wires hung from the electrical outlets, we couldn’t get a phone installed because the school, which guaranteed the payments, didn’t pay its bills, and despite this, we were supposed to leave our daughters, aged 2 and 4, at home with a babysitter who had no telephone to communicate with us; there was no gate or security in an extremely poor and dangerous neighborhood where kidnapping was common. For seven weeks we asked the school to address these issues which they continually assured us they were doing. Finally, we decided that we could no longer risk our children’s safety and we decided to leave. We believe that this was a learning experience for both the school and us. We noticed, the following year, at the next job fair we attended, that the school was seeking teachers without small children.Having committed international education’s “ultimate sin” (breaking contract), we felt fortunate to be hired the next year by The American School Foundation in Mexico City. We were completely honest with the Upper School Head about what had happened the previous year, and spent the majority of our interview with her asking her about our children’s safety and quality of life issues. We felt assured that our children would be happy and that the jobs offered us were “good fits”. We agreed to work at The American School Foundation.The students and the families at The American school were (are) wonderful, warm, kind and welcoming. My husband loved teaching them and I was happy to discover that for the most part, ASF students were not plagued by the anxiety, stress and fear about the college search and application process that has become so common in the USA. My daughters loved their teachers in the pre-school and we found a great house with a terrific landlord. Even so, transitions are difficult and ours was complicated by an emergency surgery that I needed less than two months after we arrived. The insurance provided by the school was excellent and everything was handled professionally.When I returned to work, I became increasingly aware that ASF’s expectations for a college counselor were very different from what I knew the role of college counselor to be. My perspective of eleven years as a college counselor in very rigorous and high performing schools, with demanding and involved parents, indicated to me that students were not being well-served at ASF. The majority of the college counselor’s work at ASF seemed to be event planning, secretarial tasks and computer/data entry work, none of which I felt qualified to do. I had less time to spend advising students then I had ever had, a troubling fact considering my case load in Minnesota had been 1 to 600. I made my desire to spend more time counseling students very well known to the principal who, last spring, agreed to add administrative assistant support to the college counseling office in order to allow me more time with my students.During the spring, I was also called into the Director of the school’s office. He told me that he had “noticed” me and thought I was well suited for a leadership role, a role in K12 curriculum support for which I had no experience. I was extremely uncomfortable. I have no idea what exactly it was that he had “noticed” since he had never before spoken to me before about my job; we had, however, greeted each other in the morning in front of the school when I dropped my daughters off at the pre-kindergarten. I also found it strange that he asked me to send him my resume after he told me that he thought I would be well-suited for a leadership role; it was clear he had no knowledge of my experience or performance. In a subsequent meeting, I indicated that I was passionate about counseling and that I was not prepared to take on any new role for which I was not qualified.The 2007 -2008 school year started out well. The promised office support materialized, and seniors were working hard on their college process. A week after school started, I was again called into the director’s office. I was berated for not doing my job well. Despite the fact that I was doing everything and more that the Director, in his ignorance of my job responsibilities, accused me of not doing, I was not allowed to defend myself or speak in any meaningful way. The following week, I filed a complaint with Human Resources against the director for unprofessional and hostile behavior. The same afternoon, my school internet was cut off. I was “invited” to Human Resources to meet with a “labor lawyer” who worked for the school. I was not allowed to bring a representative. I refused. The next day when my husband and I came to work, the director of Human Resources, two school lawyers and a uniformed guard was waiting outside my children’s preschool to prevent me from entering. We had been warned the day before that the school might confront me, so we had left our children at home with a babysitter; not wanting them to be subjected to a threatening experience. We entered the high school where I found I was locked out of my office.We went to see a labor lawyer who is currently representing over 20 former ASF employees. He told us that I was being fired. I never received any notification from ASF to this regard, so, the next day, I again went to work. My husband videotaped the director of human resources, the school lawyers and the guard preventing me from entering. After we videotaped them saying that I was not fired, but that I could not enter campus without first going to a meeting at Human Resources without a representative, I left campus.After I left, when my husband tried to enter campus to teach his classes, he was told that he wasn’t allowed to enter campus, and that he, too, was “invited” to a meeting at Human Resources. My husband, very much concerned by the ASF’s representatives’ behavior, went to check on our daughters in the preschool. He was prevented from entering their school; he chose to remain outside on the public sidewalk until our children were done at 12:30. He did not want to scare our girls by insisting a guard bring them to him immediately.We alerted the Board, The Foundation, the parents and the students about what had happened. Although the Board offered no response, we received overwhelming support from the students, their parents, The Foundation (who approves The Board) and the teachers, most of whom could not publicly express their support because of the fear of retaliation by the Director. We asked The Board for a public forum to address the issue, but received nothing but silence. Finally, some members of The Board agreed to meet with us. Our lawyer asked for this meeting to take place off of school grounds. Our request was not honored.Currently, we have been informed by the school’s lawyers that the school will protect the Director by trying to discredit my character. I am proud of the work I did for ASF students and their families – including several Board members who have expressed their gratitude for my work with their children. We understand that the Board is in a very difficult situation, especially given the emotional and reactive behavior of their designee, the director, to the formal complaint I filed. We hope the Board understands and acknowledges the sad situation that not only our family, but the students and families of ASF seniors must endure because of this man’s retaliatory behavior. We also hope that other educators and their families are not subjected to what we have experienced at The American School Foundation in Mexico City.

Sandy
Former(?)Director of College Counseling
The American School Foundation, Mexico City

Review 3) 20XX – 20XX
Academic integrity of school (10 is top score)
8
Effectiveness of administration
6
Academic and disciplinary support provided
8
Director’s involvement in academics
6
Fair and equitable treatment by board and director
9
School has adequate educational materials on hand
9
Attitude of local community towards foreigners
9
Cost of living in relation to salary (10= most favorable)
9
Satisfaction with housing
7
Community offers a variety of activities
10
Availability and quality of local health care
10
Satisfaction with school health insurance policy
8
Family friendly / child friendly school and community
9
Assistance with visas, shipping and air travel
8
Extra curricular load is reasonable
8
Security / personal safety (10 = very safe in and out of school)
9


Comments:
The previous comments are biased and inaccurate, provided by former faculty. The American School Foundation is not a perfect institution, but among its peers in international education it is clearly above average and far better than its critics would have one believe.This is was one of the premier international schools in the world, among the oldest and most highly regarded. Its faculties are without peer; its resources are outstanding; its faculty clearly are among the most experienced and talented world-wide. I cannot attest to the quality of the current administration, but I can vouch for the integrity and values of those who work so hard to make it one of the better international schools.

Review 2) 20XX – 20XX
Academic integrity of school (10 is top score)
8
Effectiveness of administration
8
Academic and disciplinary support provided
8
Director’s involvement in academics
9
Fair and equitable treatment by board and director
5
School has adequate educational materials on hand
8
Attitude of local community towards foreigners
10
Cost of living in relation to salary (10= most favorable)
6
Satisfaction with housing
3
Community offers a variety of activities
10
Availability and quality of local health care
8
Satisfaction with school health insurance policy
8
Family friendly / child friendly school and community
6
Assistance with visas, shipping and air travel
4
Extra curricular load is reasonable
9
Security / personal safety (10 = very safe in and out of school)
7


Comments:

Academic Integrity:
Good programs if too many – Mexican UNAM program, AP, IB, US curriculum…ASF tries to be all things to everybody and is quite confused and confusing as a result. Good and dedicated faculty.

Effectiveness of Administration: ASF has a really good faculty-both foreign and local hires are a great group of professionals who come on board with great enthusiasm but soon tend to lose morale due to the power play of the current director, a man whose actions are proving to be extremely destructive for the school. The school is big so I never knew much of what went on in Lower or Middle school.The new High school principle seems to be doing well, considering the (administrative) disaster he has walked into. What remains to be seen is whether or not he will stand up to the unfair, sometimes unethical practices of the powers that be, or like the other admin people keep silent. (they’re good folk, don’t get me wrong, just a afraid of getting fired when it comes to standing up to the director’s dictatorial bull….).

Academic and disciplinary support provided: decent. I should clarify that the school administrators who deal with the students on an everyday basis DO have their best interests at heart.

Director’s involvement in academics: don’t get me started..he has no idea what he is talking about more than half the time and he talks a lot! His agenda is clearly more important than what’s best for the students and staff.

Fair and equitable treatment by board and director: the board appears to be truly clueless as to what they are doing to a perfectly good school. Most people have no idea why and how the director got this (or any) job at this level.

Assistance with visas, shipping and air travel: The pay is NOT enough for living well and saving too. (Of course, this depends on personal lifestyles or if you’re a single-income family,etc). This is true for both local and foreign hires. Visa assistance is good, practically no help with the shipping- and this can be a nightmare in Mexico! If you come from the States, the air travel is enough, if you’re crossing half the world, its not.The kids are mostly wonderful. Most of the rich Mexican kids who study here are encouraged to think of teachers as just another paid employee by the attitudes of (some) of the parents and the attitude of the director but then, that’s not really their fault.

Bottom line:
Mexico as a country is a wonderful place to live, culturally rich, lots to do and see, friendly people and NOT as unsafe as its reputed to be, though Mexico City is certainly more expensive than expected.If you can bury your head in the sand and ignore illogical, unjust behavior on part of the administration and just be content teaching in your classroom, this is a fine place to work.If you get outraged by injustice and the inability to speak up without the fear of being fired, think twice about signing up, no matter how charming the people who offer you the job.

PS: To clarify (see the comments by review #3) I was NOT fired, and am not bitter at all. Teaching the students at ASF was a pleasure but I do believe that something needs to be done if a school has an abnormal turnover rate and most of the faculty lose respect and sense of pride in their workplace. I agree that ASF has an old and proud history- most of us who worked/work there would just like to see it stay that way. Just because you personally don’t experience injustice, doesn’t mean you keep quiet even though you see bad practice growing around you does it? Better to speak up than see a good school go bad. I have tried to make a fair if purely personal assessment here.

Review 1) 20XX – 20XX
Academic integrity of school (10 is top score)
3
Effectiveness of administration
1
Academic and disciplinary support provided
4
Director’s involvement in academics
1
Fair and equitable treatment by board and director
1
School has adequate educational materials on hand
3
Attitude of local community towards foreigners
5
Cost of living in relation to salary (10= most favorable)
3
Satisfaction with housing
8
Community offers a variety of activities
10
Availability and quality of local health care
6
Satisfaction with school health insurance policy
5
Family friendly / child friendly school and community
6
Assistance with visas, shipping and air travel
1
Extra curricular load is reasonable
5
Security / personal safety (10 = very safe in and out of school)
6


Comments:
 The American School Foundation, Mexico City, hasn’t been able to keep a director for more than two years during the past ten years – maybe because they keep hiring such awful ones. The latest incarnation, Dario Cortes, comes from The Fashion Institute of Design. He hasn’t a clue about Pre K- 12 education and has bankrupted the school by convincing a clueless board to take out a ten million dollar bank loan. Apparently, the collateral for the loan is tuition – the same tuition that pays teachers’ salaries. It is widely known, but can’t be proven that one of the Board members has set up a company that can’t be traced back to him that recently received the contract for the multi-million dollar upper school renovation that Dr. Cortes claims will improve the school.

Despite adding a third floor, not a single classroom will be added. Teachers will share common conference spaces and no one will have their own classrooms. Apparently, 14 year olds need more of a “university setting;” the teachers fear that most students will feel uncomfortable trying to get extra help if they have to go to an office with a lot of other teachers and students instead of a classroom where individual help can be provided in a personal and non-threatening manner. The only bright spot is that the new upper school head has a good reputation and people are hopeful he’ll be able to help teachers.

The board is completely unresponsive to teachers’ needs and refuses to acknowledge the reports coming from all sectors of the school that Dario Cortes is destructive. The Early Childhood teachers feel so disrespected by this man that they are on the verge of a walkout. His new choice for Early Childhood Director has no background in this area. The elementary school teachers have been abused by him as well. The high school teachers vilify him. The joke is that the middle school is the furthest from his office and so they’ve gotten lucky because it’s too far for him to walk and he hasn’t created the chaos there that he has in the other divisions. He has turned ASF into his own little fiefdom; he does whatever he wants regardless of how reckless. He has over a quarter million dollar compensation package as well as an expense account. If the board dismisses this despot – the buyout would be nearly a million dollars. So,he gets to do whatever he wants to whomever he wants. The Foundation which approves the board members recently staged a coup to vote down the 10 million dollar bank loan, but the board created a new rule for membership on the Foundation and turned this vote around.

The school says its “international” but it is the ultimate stomping ground of the country’s richest families. Non-Mexicans, even Spanish speaking children are miserable – isolated, bullied and/or ignored by Mexican children across all grade levels. It’s funny because the US Embassy recommends that ex-pat families attend The British School, Greengates, not The American School. The local hire teachers are held hostage by an arbitrary firing policy. No one says anything about abuses by administration because they are afraid they will lose their jobs. Foreign hire teachers with any experience at all just bide their time so they can fulfill their two years and get out; teachers who seem the most happy at ASF are usually young, inexperienced and willing to take on anything, even things they are not qualified to do. Second tier administrators who last for any amount of time are willing to do anything and everything to keep their well compensated (six figure) jobs. They are the henchmen that carry out the worst orders of the director – but why wouldn’t they? The worst offender is the head of human resources(who is neither humane nor resourceful), and the director of academic affairs who is regularly publicly humiliated by the director and takes it because he’s got only a few more years to retirement. He’d get rid of both of them if they didn’t go along with his agenda.

Most foreign hire teachers make between 20-30 thousand USD’s with the addition of housing allowance and food coupons. The salary is OK, but Mexico City is cosmopolitan and expensive! The only thing that is cheap is labor. So, depending on your life style you could save some money or be completely broke. The pollution is an issue; during the rainy season, it’s not so bad, but many new teachers have chronic upper respiratory issues. Traffic is either an exciting challenge or horrifyingly frightening depending on your attitude.

People talk about how wonderful the school used to be and that it has taken the new director only a year and half to destroy 118 years of a proud and honorable tradition. It’s sad the leadership of the school is corrupt and cannot survive much longer if this man is allowed to continue.

Back
Full List of Schools on ISR