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Colegio Maya

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The American International School of Guatemala

I first arrived to work at Colegio Maya – the American International School of Guatemala in 1991 after finishing my graduate studies with an aim to teach overseas. The reason was that as I left Guatemala at the end of my Peace Corps term, I said that I would be back within 3-5 years – and sure enough, almost to the day it came true! I was initially hired to bring life to the school’s physical education, health and athletics programs, which in a whirlwind way, I was able to do – with the help and support of many. During my initial time at CM, which lasted 4 years, I was able to develop a comprehensive PK-12 PE & Health program; competitive secondary athletics program that also began participating in the Central American tournaments, set the bases for an Adventure Education program, and obtain the support for building new athletic facilities. Along the way, I fathered the school’s middle school exploratory and high school elective program in support of a well-rounded offering for the CM students.

I then decided that it was time to see the world and so accepted an offer to teach physical education and health at the Taipei American School in Taiwan. However, just as I was preparing to leave Guatemala for Taiwan, I met my wife to be … I spent only one year in Taiwan, yearning to return to Guatemala and spent energy and time coaching athletics and helping to design a high school adventure program.

Upon arriving back in Guatemala to be with my wife (to be), I decided to build my ropes course and, noting that I missed teaching, began teaching part time back at Colegio Maya. This led back to teaching PE, Health, Adventure and coaching – especially my passion for basketball. This time, special effort was put into developing the middle school adventure exploratory program, and the high school physical education electives: Fit for Life, Active for Life, Adventure Leadership, Lifetime Sports, and Outdoor Adventure. In addition, I found myself becoming actively involved with many other parts of the school’s function (Faculty Council, School Improvement committee, Community Service, Professional Development Planning, etc.). As a new position for Curriculum Coordinator or aka Director of Teaching and Learning opened up at the school, I applied, interviewed and was appointed to the position. What was truly exciting was that I was working as the comprehensive Curriculum Facilitator – with the understanding that it was my job to facilitate the delivery and improvement of the curriculum throughout the whole school for all learning, not just traditional scripted academic learning. For me and the rest of the administration, this meant that I/we subscribed to constructivist learning and used social construction processes to attend to student learning. The school curricula is not delimited by a paper scope and sequence – it is so much more! This meant that I was involved in scheduling, designing curricula-classes-lessons-assessments-and systems for these and for mentoring, training, and supervision. However, given the size of the school, during the tenure of the position – until it was eliminated due to budgetary restrictions, I would juggle the many duties related to the curriculum position with anywhere from 20% to 70% teaching load, in addition to serving as department chair, basketball coach, and in directing professional development, active learning-field trips, student leadership programming, and community service. While super busy and at times wishing for a cloned self, I must admit that I very much enjoyed the opportunity to continue teaching. My experience at CM had been one that I was extremely proud of, and one that I wanted for my daughter in her studies at CM.

I have now surpassed 20+ years in working at Colegio Maya (a cause to celebrate in this day and age, don’t you think?)  – and have been witness to 12 changes in leadership of the school. I have also observed the ebb and flow of efficient school governance and performance, which has paralleled the cycle and degree of micro-managing influences. This has prompted me to engage in, and complete doctoral studies in educational leadership practices that hold promise for the future (21st century). I have come to more fully appreciate life cycles – those as I mentioned of governance and performance of the school, but also those of positive  hoping-to-make-a-difference energies that are truly directed towards generating the best education possible, rather than settling for too many rhetorical educational paradigms and structures. Recognizing the leadership that has set these school cycles in motion, and which have demoted me to a lesser role in the school and a classroom closer to the exit, I realize that my life cycle at CM will most likely not last much longer. So, for the time being, I very much enjoy my classes – Crew, physical education, health, adventure, mystery theatre … and the opportunity to continue to make the learning experiences actively persona, real, and connected for the students.

Below, please find a brief listing of some of the duties that I have performed during my time at Colegio Maya:

  • Facilitated the development of school improvement plans
  • Facilitated school community stakeholder school improvement summit
  • Coordinated process for earning, monitoring, and maintaining accreditation
  • Served as Curriculum Coordinator and facilitated the development of content area curricula for grades PK-12
  • Supported/directed development, training, and use of school core practices that include: Multiple Intelligences, ESOL in the Mainstream, Understanding by Design,  Rubicon Atlas curriculum mapping, as well as the use of active learning instructional practices, assessment methods, and building/integrating connections across the curriculum
  • Facilitated the implementation of annual school wide curricular themes
  • Delivered Active Learning professional development
  • Facilitated a professional development program that included the formation of professional learning communities
  • Designed teacher professional development portfolio
  • Maintained a communications network that provides research-based best practices
  • Coordinated active learning off-campus experiences and community service projects
  • Facilitated development of Student Leadership Vision
  • Participated in the hiring process of instructional personnel
  • Designed teacher evaluation protocol
  • Provided professional coaching and mentoring as Master Teacher
  • Served as temporary elementary and secondary principal
  • Designed senior student portfolio and exit presentation process
  • Facilitated development of student, faculty and parent profiles
  • Designed schedule of classes for grades PK-12
  • Developed secondary elective and exploratory course program
  • Participated in annual leadership team development and review of school budget
  • Served as Department Chair for Physical Education and Health and served on the Faculty Council
  • Designed curricula for and taught PK-12 physical education and health that included high school courses Active for Life, Fit for Life, Health & Wellness, and Lifetime Sports
  • Designed curricula for and taught secondary courses of Adventure Exploratory, Outdoor Adventure, and Adventure Leadership
  • Designed curricula for and taught secondary course of Independent Living
  • Designed curricula for and taught Mystery Theatre course
  • Served as point person on the Crisis Response Team
  • Facilitated development of Student Leadership Vision
  • Organized annual Leadership Saturday event for students grades 3-12
  • Lead student, faculty and governance board retreats
  • Co-designed advisory program and served as class advisor
  • Served as Athletic Director
  • Coached baseball, basketball, soccer, & volleyball at various levels

Based on these experiences, I am capable of offering support/training in the areas of:

  • Instructional Strategies
  • Active Learning (Inquiry, Project –based, etc.)
  • Professional Development – Learning Communities
  • Curriculum Design
  • School Improvement
  • Accreditation Process
  • Assessment
  • Cognitive Coaching
  • Understanding by Design principles
  • Rubicon Atlas Curriculum Mapping
  • Leadership
  • Community Building
  • Physical Education, Health, Recreation & Athletics
  • Adventure Education

I am wondering what education for the 22nd Century will look like … especially if we take the binders off our current operations!! What do you think that it will be like?


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