Private Bilingual Costa Rica, Internacional School, Blue Valley School | Dear BVS Community

Blue Valley is a private, bilingual, international school that offers a rigorous American curriculum, yet is rooted in local culture and includes a strong Spanish program.

Dear BVS Community

Dear BVS Community

Following up on a very successful first semester of 2019, we want to make our parents aware of strategic improvements we will introduce in July 2019. This work is based on the Inspired Group’s international best practices and the long successful history of Blue Valley as a top bilingual international school. The result of the curricular enhancements explained below will be an immediate strengthening of Blue Valley School, in keeping with our commitment to maintain our position as the best premium school in Costa Rica, and to begin to match the best schools worldwide. We also have some important news regarding our Senior Leadership Team, including some new faces, and also some familiar faces in new positions.

The New Through-School & Student Support Leadership Structure

This new and strengthened academic and pastoral support structure is designed to ensure that the Senior Leadership Team is able to monitor pastoral support and teaching for learning throughout the school effectively at every age and stage, guaranteeing the immense advantages to be gained from an effective through-school program. We also maintain the individualized attention to our students and their needs. Our senior team is now linked with experienced senior leaders in other Inspired schools around the world to ensure that the global benchmarks of quality are set and maintained.

As of July, here are some of the through-school enhancements that we will be implementing in our curriculum and schedules to provide our students with a better learning experience:
  • We will be adjusting the timetables to unify school schedules with a more even distribution of hours and periods, creating a more consistent classroom experience for our students across all subjects. This also allows for our best teachers to move between subjects and grade levels to reach more kids. See “new schedules for all levels” here.
  • We’ve added cycle testing as of 4th grade to reduce over-testing, while instilling in our students a sense of normalcy of standardized testing environments that will support them with later tests (for example IB exams.)
  • We strengthened the Arts pillar throughout the school with additional time in Arts, Music, and Drama from Early Learning School through High School.
  • In order to achieve these curricular enhancements and maintain our Wednesday early dismissal, the Blue Valley school day will be extended 30 minutes, starting classes 5 minutes earlier at 7:15am and ending 25 minutes later at 2:45pm. Wednesday hours: 7:15am-12:45pm
  • Blue Valley’s independent student philosophy will be enhanced by increased pastoral care and adult involvement on campus throughout the day, starting with a morning and afternoon homeroom period, as well as, outside at arrival and dismissal times.

Strengthening our Early Learning School

Our Blue Valley Early Learning Center will be enhanced in the 3.0 – 3.5 age group to include special classes for PE, Music and Dance, while our older children will now have the addition of PE, Music, Dance, Drama, Art and Educational Technology. We are also implementing an optional full-day Early Learning Program to include direct English instruction, Science and Math enrichment, Dance, Art, Soccer and Basketball classes. See detailed explanation here.

Elementary Enhancements and New Leadership:

We have been extremely fortunate to hire a top international Elementary leader Ms. Pam Jackson. Ms. Jackson comes to us from Qatar where she has served as the Primary Principal at The English Modern School for the last three years. She received a bachelor’s degree in Teacher Education from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Washington in Seattle. She had a very successful teaching career as an Elementary Classroom Teacher, Reading Specialist, and Literacy Coach before moving into administration.

Ms. Jackson will be leading an enhanced elementary curriculum that will include the following changes for next semester:

  • 4th and 5th grade classes will now be departmentalized to bring in the very best English, Math and Science teachers Blue Valley has to every student in those grades. These students will still have an assigned homeroom teacher with whom they will begin and end their day.
  • 4th and 5th will begin cycle testing preparation to help prepare them for their transition to Secondary school.
  • In order to offer a more comprehensive arts foundation, From Prep to 5th grade we will add Drama classes for all students, and the option of Dance or an additional PE class.
  • 3rd to 5th graders will take a Design Technology class during the B semester with classical Art offered in the A semester.
  • We are also very proud to announce the promotion of two wonderful Blue Valley leaders to Deputy Principal positions within the elementary school. Ms. Maria Lourdes Artiñano will be assuming the role of Academic Deputy Principal, supporting Ms. Jackson on continuing to improve our teaching for learning and teacher professional development. Ms. Christine Steinvorth will assume the role of Pastoral Care Deputy Principal supporting Ms. Jackson and our entire elementary school in making sure our students are learning in a happy and successful academic environment with personalized attention to support their individual needs and challenges.

    Secondary (Middle and High School) Team:

    As you know, Ms. Alisa Zelaya has assumed the role of Interim High School Principal while we perform a global search for our new High School Principal. We are very pleased to announce that Ms. Irene Ortega, our current Student Services Director, will be promoted to Secondary Pastoral Deputy Principal, supporting both the High School and Middle School students with the same personal attention and care she has always given our students. Ms. Ortega is a leader that makes Blue Valley special, and we congratulate her on this new, elevated role at our school. Ms. Gisele Cordero has been a strong academic leader at the school for many years and she will continue to lead as Interim Secondary Academic Deputy Principal. We are grateful for her continued contributions and that she will be with us to move BVS forward. We will still have an IB Coordinator and College Counselor working with this great team of professionals.

    Middle School Enhancements:

    Our Secondary team will be overseeing the addition of the following enhancements in our Middle School curriculum:
    • 6th to 8th grade will now be taking the Inspired signature Public Speaking program, a three-year program designed to teach our kids how to present their ideas with confidence, conviction, and sound arguments.
    • 6th to 8th grades will receive a Design Technology class during B Semester with classical Art in the A Semester.
    • Students will now have Drama and a Dance or PE option, in addition to Music class.
    • Our Character class has been updated to include a modern social and life skills curriculum.
    • We will incorporate student-led assemblies for Drama, Public Speaking, Dance, Music and other areas allowing our students to showcase their talents to their classmates and our community.

    High School Enhancements:

    Our Secondary team will lead our High School and improved IB Diploma Program to oversee the following enhancements to our High School curriculum:
    • Cycle Testing launching for entire High School.
    • 2 full years of Biology, Chemistry and Physics in 9th and 10th grades to strengthen our students science skills
    • A more balanced curriculum in core academic areas
    • A more complete two-year IB program in 11th and 12th grade with increased options for both Standard Level and Higher Level coursework
    • A four-year High School track with the option to earn IB Certificates

    Proactive Social Emotional Support:

    We will have one full time psychologist working to support students, teachers, and families in the Elementary school and another in the Secondary school. Ms. Mishelle Boyd (Early Learning and Elementary) and Ms. Jessica Fonseca (Secondary) will work closely with our Academic and Pastoral Deputy Principals to ensure a healthy and nurturing environment for all. This team will be supported by, and in close communication with, their section Principals and the Head of School.

    A Continued Focus on Outstanding Teaching:

    In the process of creating this new structure, we have identified teachers who are key to our future growth and the success of this model. As we grow, we will also be adding new talent to make sure our school community continues to be a dynamic learning environment, empowered by the best educational methods including effective educational technology, evolving as fast as the world around us. This semester, we will bring in new speciality experts in Dance, Drama and PE.

    A New and Effective Assessment System– Inspired’s Cycle Tests

    Inspired has applied its renowned cycle testing with maximum effect in their schools around the world, and this also will be introduced at Blue Valley from the start of the new semester. Cycle Tests enable students to improve their academic confidence and performance subject by subject and for teachers to ensure that they are teaching in ways to guarantee that each and every student understands and learns. With this form of assessment students also develop effective examination techniques and develop their memory power while reducing their overall academic stress.

    The impact of Inspired and Blue Valley coming together:

    Inspired believes that everyone ‘s skills and self-confidence are enhanced; their character develops and their range of experience expands when all are exposed to the full range of integrated performing arts. The same integrated and inclusive approach is applied also to sport. Every student will experience Art, Drama, Music, and Dance from an early age and Public Speaking in Middle School, rather than being able to select one over the other as now happens with the current elective options. Additionally, we are pleased to introduce the Inspired Global Exchange program. Inspired now has 30 premium schools around the world participating in formal student exchange programs. To learn more and apply please see: https://inspirededu.com/global-exchanges

    Parent Workshops:

    At the beginning of the next semester, we will be holding a series of workshops for parents where each Principal will give a presentation to parents on the curriculum, review the new timetables making sure everyone is clear on how they will work, explain the assessment techniques and answer any questions the parents of each year group might have. We will be sending out dates in July for these workshops. We are grateful for the engagement and demonstrated support of the parent community, for the proactive Parent Ambassadors and for all of the parents that work and dedicate so many hours to making our Blue Valley community stronger every day.

    Sincerely,

    We Are Here!

    Blue Valley School

    • (+506) 2215-2204