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Fall 2013

From the Executive Director

Dear Colleagues,

Greetings from the Tri-Association! I wish you each a safe, rewarding and productive journey in your professional and personal endeavors during this new academic year! A warm welcome to the administrators who are new to our region and to those of you who have made professional changes, all the best in your new posts!

After spending the last twenty-two years in Monterrey, Mexico, my husband Jeff and I relocated to South Carolina and we are very much looking forward to dividing our time between this beautiful state and our home on the Pacific Coast of Nicaragua. I will continue to use the American School Foundation as the site school where I outsource work to a team of individuals that are key to my role as the Executive Director.

Next week we will be convening in Mexico City for the 32nd Annual Educators’ Conference. This year’s theme, “Pushing Our Limits”, features a rich and varied program with a special emphasis on differentiated and special education, technology integration, literacy, curriculum design, music education and teacher evaluation. As a backdrop to the conference theme I am featuring an article from the September issue of Educational Leadership, which highlights the importance of nurturing a growth mindset in ourselves, and in our students. This article is a condensed version by Kim Marshall and is being brought to you with his permission. The Marshall Memo was one of my most valued resources as a school administrator. It comes to you on a weekly basis, it is extremely inexpensive for what you get, and most importantly, Kim does an excellent job of filtering and condensing articles that are relevant to our work.

We have an exciting development to share. This past summer we had a World Virtual School merger between AASSA and the Tri-Association. Under the leadership of our Regional Coordinator Nigel Robinson, we changed to a more robust server through Marleo d.o.o. As part of the migration Marleo upgraded all of our instances to the latest version of Moodle. Furthermore, this hosting service is much lower in cost. Nigel is highly commended for this strategic move! As a reminder the WVS Project is funded through the office of Overseas Schools and there is grant money available for funding schools that wish to join. Please contact Nigel Robinson if you would like to explore this possibility for your school @ (Nigel Jay Robinson nrobinson@cms.edu.do). Nigel is also offering a two-day pre-conference in Mexico City and will be available throughout the conference to discuss your needs and interest in this project.

This past summer more than thirty music teachers from our region participated in a music institute at the University of Western Carolina University. This professional development opportunity was the result of a joint effort between the Tri- Association and Inter-Regional Center, who generously funded the teachers' tuition, room and board for the week. Instruction on best practice methods and hands-on training were combined with live demonstrations, enabling the teachers to walk away with a rich repertoire to take back to their schools. The Institute was led by Dr. Russell Robinson, from the University of Florida, and faculty members from the music department at the Western Carolina. A second Institute will be held at our upcoming conference in Mexico City. Dr. Robinson is also available for site visits and work with individual schools.

We held our first Global Issues Network this past spring at the Country Day School. My deepest appreciation to Josh Knudson for his organization and to Greg MacGilpin for his hospitality and willingness to host our first student event. The experience was so inspiring that before it ended, we had several schools volunteering to host in the future. If you were not able to participate this past year, mark your calendar for March 14-16 at the Carol Morgan School in the Dominican Republic.

Besides our Annual Educators’ Conference, we are starting to offer and support other professional development opportunities in different parts of the region. This November the Tri-Association is co-sponsoring the ACCAS Curriculum Coordinators’ meeting that is being organized by Joe Nagy and Ana Maria Duque at Colegio Bolivar in Cali. Curriculum leaders from the region will come together to work with Janie Pollock and Bambi Betts on different aspects of their roles and the important work taking place in their schools.

I hope that many of you will join us at the Latin American Leadership Institute on Teacher and Leader Evaluation led by Dr. James Stronge and Ginny Tonneson. This is a joint venture between AASSA and the Tri-Association, and will take place in Atlanta on Monday December 2, 2013. If you are planning on attending please contact me for an invoice. Registration is set up through the AASSA site at: https://www.aassa.com/page.cfm?p=699

Please make sure that your Directory Information Template has been filled out for this school year and sent in! This is the best and only way for me to be able to provide all of your benefits, so I appreciate your follow –up to this request!

I am looking forward to my second year as the Executive Director and to seeing many of you in Mexico City in just a few weeks! Registration and exhibitor numbers are at an all time high, so we had to close registration earlier than projected because of the positive response of the part of our schools. My apologies if this affected some of you, but it is important to ensure that those attending will have a quality and comfortable experience.

Thank you for your support and let me know how we can continue to support your professional development needs!

In order to extend our conference experience to all of the schools in the region we are going to video stream each Keynote Address. Each of you will be able to access this, however we ask that you do this only through one single connection point per school. We have a connection for each of the schools in our membership and I would like to give all an equal chance to watch if they are interested. Specific information pertaining to keynote schedules and the video stream link will sent to you later this week.

Take care,
Sonia Keller, Ed. D.
Executive Director


 Association News

YOUNITY: Not just another conference...

By Paul Fandre (teacher) & students (Country Day School: Proud Host of GIN 2013)

Country Day School in Costa Rica hosted the Global Issues Network Conference in the spring of 2013. Hundreds of students traveled to our campus to share their ideas, values, and ways of changing the world. Our theme for the conference was “Younity” and how individuals can make a difference. The conference was more to us than just the long weekend spent at Country Day School. The experience changed our students in fundamental ways and opened up the school’s eyes to a whole new set of opportunities.

As a teacher I saw my students rise to an occasion the school had not seen. Although hosting many other events for international venues, this time the adults stepped back and students stepped up. Students were booking hotels, arranging transportation, planning menus for a variety of dietary needs, and conferencing with people around the world. The apprehension they felt so many months prior, was quickly forgotten when they realized they had the potential and ability to create and lead the conference itself.

“Working on my own school's GIN conference has taught me lots about leadership and working skills. I learned to be assertive in order to get something done, to stay on top of deadlines, and how to plan effectively. I also learned more collaborative skills. All of these skills are helping me take a leadership role in the organizations that I am a part of in my school.” - Miranda

“The GIN conference was something that only seemed like a dream. Our school had never hosted anything that large before, and in all honesty, I never thought the administration and students would pull through with it…I decided the GIN conference was a dream worth fighting for and I took it upon myself to help everyone make it happen. Luckily, I wasn’t alone, we had the student body motivated and ready to help. I’m not going to lie, it was a long and arduous process to get things ready…It was all worth it. During the conference I didn’t have much time to enjoy many of the activities, but I had the honor to be a master of ceremonies. When I stood in front of all the GINers and saw their smiling faces, I thought, “We did it”. When they came, they were just a group of strangers that were going to spread their ideas about saving the world. But, as I looked into their eyes, I realized we had become more. They were no longer the strangers from other schools but we were one… I was told that GIN was going to change me and it did. I learned that when you feel you aren’t accomplishing your small projects locally you, you can be at rest, because there will are hundreds of others like you doing the same. We are all fighting for our causes. GIN was truly special, projects were created, groups networked, and more importantly, life long friendships were made. If you are reading this as a GINer, trust me when I tell you it will be worth it. I used to be a very cynical man about the world, thinking that community service was too small of a scale to ever change much. GIN made me eat my words, which made them so much more savory. If I could ever do another GIN conference, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second.” - Sidney

“The GIN conference allowed us to meet “The GIN conference allowed us to meet and exchange ideas and concepts with people from all around the globe…It also allowed us to share our own point of view on world issues, and spread awareness of our particular issue, Animal Overpopulation and Cruelty. We were able to pass on the seed of our ideas to many other young minds. It was an unparalleled networking experience that allowed vital flow of ideas from mind to mind. As much as we gave, we received, in the form of information, solutions, awareness on issues we might not have even realized were problematic, and invaluable personal connections with people who could help us achieve our goals of a better tomorrow for our companion animals.” – Paws n Claws

The setting sun the final day greeted Country Day School with a silence the campus had not felt for days. All the booths, classrooms, hallways, tables, and computers sat with exhaustion. The school had been filled with excitement and ideas, many of which we had not heard of. The chance to change became a reality. The Country Day School GINers sat around quietly talking with each other until one girl yelled, “WE DID IT!” and they had. The tent echoed with our excitement, but it was not mine or any adults to boast about, but the students.

To this day they carry with them the changes they made. Leadership is something more than the team captain. Change is something more than spending a weekend helping out. Presenting is something more than a Power- Point for a school project. Each of the students displayed qualities and characteristics that sculpted them into confident leaders who are capable of presenting their ideas about change. The school has been energized about how to impact the world and our community. There are many new groups forming, most happened over the summer without any adult help. Visits to hospitals and orphanages are occurring, students are actively working towards a windmill being put up, ideas from other students during the conference are being used, and our students are still conferencing with leaders in specific fields around the globe. To me this shows the education they participated in on those days empowered them to believe in themselves and the abilities they have. From the Younity conference in 2013 we have evolved into a community that seeks change and empowers us to unite in that change.


Tri-Association Music Teachers Attend Institute at Western Carolina University

Music teachers from across the Tri-Association region attended an institute and professional development led by Dr. Russell Robinson, Consultant and Professor of Music at the University of Florida, along with faculty from Western Carolina University June 24-28. The teachers received training in instrumental and choral techniques using school music groups from the area as well as sessions including technology and classroom music techniques. The program was supported by the Office of Overseas Schools.

Russell L. Robinson, Ph.D.
Professor and Head of Music Education - University of Florida
Educator, Consultant, Speaker, Conductor, Author, Composer, Arranger
Phones: Home 352.332.3081, Mobile 352.219.5539,
UF Office 352.273.3190
P.O. Box 90399
Gainesville FL 32607 USA


Welcome to New Directors!

Balboa AcademyPanamaHelen Kiser
Lincoln AcademyCosta RicaRobert Rinaldo
The American School of DurangoMexicoJoseph Castillejo
The American School Foundation of GuadalajaraMexicoDavid McGrath
The American School Foundaion of MonterreyMexico

Michael Adams, Ed. D.

Colegio PanamericanoColombiaJohn Hickey
Colegio MayaEl SalvadorSidney J. Hooper
Cayman International SchoolCayman IslandsJeremy Moore
Colegio Americano del SurGuatemalaKathleen Wilmeth



ASF: Celebrating 125 Years of Service!

by Sloane Starke

The American School Foundation A.C. in Mexico City is celebrating its 125th anniversary with more than a year’s worth of festivities, starting in 2012 and continuing through the close of 2013.

The oldest continually operating American international school in the world, The American School was founded in 1888 by U.S. businessman John R. Davis, whose mother-in-law Bessie Files was the first teacher at the school. The original purpose of the school was to offer students a high-quality American-style education, and so the school began with its first class of nine kindergartners. Now, 125 years later and with more than 2,500 students from age three through 12th grade, representing more than 40 nationalities, The American School continues to be faithful to its mission: providing a globally minded education with the most effective and modern teaching methods as practiced in the United States.

The school’s core values are justice, understanding and truth, which stand beside and coincide with the International Baccalaureate Learner Profile traits as the governing principles of the school and its mission.

Another important aspect of ASF, from its founding, has been its diversity, which today is experiencing a redefinition and resurgence. The first kindergarten class had U.S., British and Mexican students. The number of international students has ebbed and flowed over the years. Today, diversity is stronger than ever, while the school seeks to foment different types of diversity through students and families who represent different talents and pursuits in the arts, athletics, academics, community service and entrepreneurship.

During its 125 years of history, The American School has come to think of key protagonists in its development as its founders, including Mr. Davis, Ms. Files and others in more recent history, such as former Board president Charles Cummings, land donor Edwin Orrin, campus architect Lewis Lamm, former superintendent Henry Cain, legendary school supporter S. Bolling Wright and longtime teacher Edna Clifton.

Community support and community spirit have made the school what it is today. Major improvements and building projects such as the school’s new Jenkins Foundation Wellness Center and the Ángeles Espinosa Iglesias Fine Arts Center, just to name two recent projects, have been possible only through the generous support of community members, in the form of donations of all sizes from parents, students, alumni, employees and other friends of the school.

The bottom line for ASF, as for any school, is the caliber and success of its alumni, many of whom go on to become leaders in the private and public sectors in Mexico, the U.S. and other countries. Upon graduation, the majority of students attend their top choice of university. As they proceed to develop their careers in government, business, nonprofit, medical, legal, athletic, artistic and other fields, their strong ties to their alma mater survive the test of time. American school alumni often comment that no matter what year they graduated, they find an instant connection with their fellow alumni Bears.


Mindsets About Failure and Effort

(Originally titled "Afraid of Looking Dumb")
From the Marshall Memo - September 10, 2013 (shared with permission form Kim Marshal)

In this thoughtful article in Educational Leadership, former teacher and principal Mark Jacobson describes one of his second-graders telling him she wasn’t smart at math, was afraid of being teased, and mistrusted her teacher’s reassuring words. “Do you want to change?” he asked. “Yes, but how?” she replied.

The key with students like this is changing the way they think about ability, says Jacobson. The goal of students fortunate enough to have a “growth” mindset (Carol Dweck’s term) is to get smarter. If they’re having difficulty, they work on a better strategy. But the goal of students who have the “fixed” mindset is to look smart. For them, being in a classroom is like stepping onto a stage with all eyes on them. “The teacher owns one of the most important pairs of eyes,” says Jacobson. “Fixed-belief students concern themselves with their teacher’s every glance. They see the teacher not as a facilitator and resource for their learning but as a rewarder and punisher, as a judge and critic.” These students constantly ask themselves, “Am I good enough? Am I smart? Am I right? Did I make a mistake? How will others see me? Does my teacher like me?”

“As long as students are driven by what others think of them, they’re focused on the external,” says Jacobson. “We teachers need to turn them inward, to refocus their attention on their own effort and abilities.” If a student mutters the answer to a question and the teacher says, “What?”, the student may say, “Never mind” or “I forgot.” These students may rebuff an offer of help, afraid that accepting it will make them look incompetent, or they may become dependent on the teacher and stop trying. They tend to be overly sensitive to mild criticism or body language. “I think I’ll throw this away,” said one of Jacobson’s students after classmates offered some suggestions on her story.

“We always ask students to try,” he says, “especially when they believe something is really hard. However, for some students, ‘hard’ means ‘impossible.’” Here are his suggestions for getting students to believe that effort really can make them smarter:

  • Have students rate how hard they are trying. Jacobson routinely checked in with his students, asking them to self-assess on a 10-point effort scale and push themselves to try harder.
  • Give better feedback. General praise like “Good job” is hollow and ineffective, says Jacobson. Feedback should be specific to the tasks or concepts being taught and reinforce incremental progress. “That was a good start, Jeffrey,” a teacher might say and encourage the student to keep going.
  • Ask questions that don’t have right/wrong answers. Foster deeper thinking rather than speedy responses and stress accountable talk.
  • Engage the disengaged. “Adrian, are you with us?” a teacher might ask in the middle of a discussion. “What are you thoughts?” The entire class can be enlisted in encouraging participation, effort, and risk-taking.
  • Investigate mindsets. Jacobson did some action research in his second-grade class and found that half of the students had the fixed mindset. Teachers should reflect on their own mindset and how it manifests itself in school – and outside.

“Afraid of Looking Dumb” by Mark Jacobson in Educational Leadership, September 2013 (Vol. 71, #1, p. 40-43); www.ascd.org; Jacobson is at: mjacob47@yahoo.com




There’s many ways for schools to obtain skills to support their use of MAP data:

  • NWEA Knowledge Academy: Online professional development offerings including video tutorials, online courses, and helpful materials that support ongoing learning about NWEA assessments This is part of your license at no extra charge. https://knowledgeacademy.nwea.org
  • SPARK Community: The SPARK Community is where NWEA partners and educators from around the world share ideas and resources, collaborate on education topics and issues, and discover new ways to advance kid-centric learning. http://community.nwea.org/about
  • MAP Foundation Series: Onsite Professional Development Workshops http://www.nwea.org/support/category/professional-development
  • Fusion: NWEA’s annual summer conference http://fusion.nwea.org/
  • MAP Users Groups (MUGS): Professional learning communities of MAP users within specific countries or regions. To start or participate in one, contact: Shoshana.blauer@nwea.org

Special tuition savings offered for Tri-Association Members:

Online Resource For Guidance Counselors

The project, www.AccreditedOnlineColleges.org/Regional-Accreditation, is a comprehensive and informative resource that ranks each university in America by size,d egress offered, tuition costs, admission rates, graduation rates, and retention rates.


Information Page

The Association of American Schools of Central America, Colombian-Caribbean and Mexico

Board of Directors
ASOMEX Paul Williams (President)
AASCA Ron Vair
ACCAS Robert Sims
Executive Director Sonia Keller
Regional Education Officer William H. Scotti

Layout / Design
Grupo Grafico Limex,
Monterrey, Mexico

Send all inquiries and suggestions to the Executive Director at Sonia Keller skeller@tri-association.org

Association Information
Mailing Address
Ms. Sonia Keller
Executive Director
2812 Cypress Bend Rd.
Florence, SC 29506

Home Office Contact Numbers
1 (361) 949 0436 (Vonage)
1 (843) 610 5757 (Cellular)

From the Executive Director

I appreciate the schools and individuals who contributed pictures and articles for this edition of the newsletter. This year I hope to receive more entries from others schools in the region. This is a wonderful way to celebrate and share the important work that is taking place in your school, so I look forward to hearing from many of you!

The deadlines for submission for the Winter 2013 Spring and Fall 2014 editions are:
Winter Edition: October 30, 2013
Spring Edition: February 1, 2014
Fall Edition: May 1, 2014


Corporate Members

Balfour Yearbooks
College Board
Crystal & Company
Houghton Mifflin Hanrcourt Brace
International School Services
McGraw Hill
Pearson Education
PESA Uniformes
Search Associates
Simply Teach Tech
TieCare International/Global Benefits Group
Turning Technologies

Associate Members

Compass Learning
FCD Educational Services
Framingham State University
George Mason University
Lehigh University
Merriam Webster
RenWeb School Management Software
Seton Hall University
William H. Sadlier

Supporting Members

ATD-American Co
Committee for Children
Counseling for International Schools
Walden University


Other Exhibitors

Center for Spiritual and Ethical Education (CSEE)
Developmental Studies Center
International School Associates LLC
Mount Union University
Raymond James Financial Services
Rubicon International
Teacher Created Materials
Triumph Learning
Virco, Inc
Wegoo Interactive


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