My school is Baltimore International Academy where my child, a 2nd grader, has done extremely well, thanks to the support and caring staff of teachers, office administration and Principal Enkiri, who is faithfully out on the parking lot watching all students arrive to school, and in school every morning to greet students and parents in the cafetorium. Principal Enkiri is the BEST! And because he is the best, his excellence is leadership trickles down to the entire organizational structure of BIA. He runs a tight ship and the students are indeed among the best and brightest in the City of Baltimore.
My daughter has been attending BIA since the 2009-2010 school year (K) I have enjoyed the experience of seeing her learn a foreign language. The school has really grown since it first started but overall the staffs commitment to the children has remained the same. The Principal is kind in his interactions with parents and children and makes himself available for any concerns parents have. The only thing I would say to parents considering this school is to be be mindful this is a language immersion school and the children are fully immersed in their target language. You will need to work on reading and writing with your children at home so they are not behind in English. They do have ELA (English Language Arts) but not for enough hours during the day to give them what they need to have strong reading and writing skills. Other than that I have no complaints about this school. Also the aftercare program is really great, kind staff who seems to genuinely care for all the children.
Where else could you send your child to learn Spanish, French, Chinese, Russian, and now Arabic from Kindergarten to Middle School? The answer is simple Baltimore International Academy. This school is a full emergent school. Not only do you have the language at your finger-tips, but you also have the change for your students to learn through the enriched program of IB. An IB program is unique. All IB students learn a second language and the skills to live and work with others internationally essential for life in the 21st century. We encourage a positive attitude to learning by encouraging students to ask challenging questions, to reflect critically, to develop research skills, and to learn how to learn. We encourage community service because we believe that there is more to learning than academic studies alone. Yes, we do expect parents to assist the children in this very rigorous, project-based learning program, but the end results are much more beneficial then any other public school education.
Full language immersion is an excellent idea for the education of your child whether he/she is within the U.S. or in any another country. English classes, however, should be prioritized in light of the standardized testing and realization that the student's 'real life' involves understanding and functioning within an English-speaking environment. Parents need to bolster their student's reading and provide less 'babysitter' items such as extended tv viewing and videogames that do not assist in learning/mastering their first language (English). The scheduling of English classes at the beginning or end of the school day should be avoided if possible due to the numerous conflicts.The student should be responsible for home and classwork. Being in an IB school also requires projects and enhanced learning. Parentseither be a part of the problem or a part of the solution. Yes, the school takes a parental role once the student is within their walls, but they are dealing with whatever conditions that are within the child's household and external environment: be it good or bad. Redirecting students to their family hopes works only with parental assistance. They can be ROCK students!!
I love the idea of a language immersion school but they are really falling short. My son is in the Russian immersion program. His first teacher was great until she ran into green card problems&went into hiding. He ended up with a subpar substitute for the rest of the year. His first grade teacher was fine. More problems arose in 2nd grade. We loved his teacher. English classes started that year too. His English teacher in 2nd grade was good. They just didn't seem to be doing anything in music. They started the year with a packet of material to cover. By November, they had only done a couple of pages. I asked what they'd been doing. He said they watched The Spiderwick Chronicles a few times. That teacher was eventually let go&a new music teacher was brought in. She seems to be fine. His English teacher this year, 3rd grade, has serious problems with her own grammar&spelling. She can't correct homework properly due to her poor English. Nothing is being done about it. There is no indication that she will be replaced though she clearly should not be teaching. We requested a conference with her. When she finally called, it was to complain about her job to us. Time for a change.
BIA is a great school. I have a third grader and second grader enrolled currently. They speak Spanish fluently. I also like that the entire family has access to Rosetta Stone in your child's target language. BIA is also an IB school that focuses on different cultures . Be prepared to read with your children every night for 20 minutes and do the Rosetta Stone too. Your kids get a lot out of the school when parents go the extra mile for their children.
BIA is definately a great school. This will be our childs fourth year attending BIA and every year it gets better. The new building last year was a huge plus for the children. The new principle is making the right changes and if you have issues with anything you can talk to him or other staff and it is addressed. In reading a few of the other reviews I think that those parents speak to staff about their complaints. My only complaint is parent involvement and the adults being respectful at events and at drop off and pick up. I think kids would learn not to shove past someone if they hadn't just seen their parent do it. These kids work really hard. They tell you at the beginning it will be a lot of work and the first 2 years they may seem a bit behind in english and that they will catch up and they do! The first 2 years is completely in the target language and then english is added to their day in 2nd grade. I think the teachers and staff work very hard for their students and this school improves every year.
This school is a fantastic concept, but is very poorly executed. The administration puts on a show and dance for parents. It's very gimmicky. If you want your child to learn how to sing and dance in Chinese and do not mind them being academically behind, then this is a fantastic option for you! They have several combined classes because they can't keep students as they reach the upper grades. My child was once in a class of 25, which has now dwindled down to 6 students. I will be transferring my children this fall. I tried to stay because I love the concept, but I can not waste anymore of my children's time. Educating them has fallen on me after school because they are not learning what they need to know during school. There are MUCH better options out there! They hire teachers with very little teaching experience, simply because they speak one of the target languages. I understand that it may be difficult to find quality teachers who speak Mandarin, Russian, French, and Spanish and have experience in immersion teaching, but this should have been thought of at the onset of the school's creation. I speak English, but would make a terrible teacher.
As of this school year 2012-2013 BIA has experienced a great amount of change, from school buildings, principals, to schedule. Unfortunately, these changes have affected the way the school runs, picking up of the children is a potential fire hazard. There are double doors heavy to open, were children and parents are coming in and out off with no organization. As a formal teacher and a stay at home mom I spent a lot of time at the school volunteering therefore I am able to observe teaching and behavior methods used by my child's teacher. The behavior in my child's classroom is unbelievable! During SEVERAL of my visits it has taken the teacher an average of 20min to start her morning plan due students disrupting the class. It has taken office personnel another 10 minutes to come and get these students out of the classroom because they are dealing with other students from other classrooms. Where I come from charter schools are held to a higher standards with behavior and classroom management . BIA is no different from an inner city public school.
I love my school. My children have been coming here since its inception. The new principle is great and is very firm with our children. He demands order and they listen. The only program to which I have not been privy is the French Immersion. I have kids in all other languages and I dont have one complaint. My only suggestion for new comers is that you prepare to teach English at home. English is not introduced until 2nd grade which may put your child behind in reading if you dont pick up the slack. Also, read with them nightly; Dr. Suess books help alot. What they miss in English is made up by the knowledge they gain as a potential interpreter or Language analyst. the possibilities are endless. My girls recognize chinese on movies and can tell me what they are saying. On the last snow day (when it didnt snow at all) I used google to communicate with my babies and to translate their responses. It just makes you feel good as a parent that you are setting them up to be something great. CHinese/Russian programs are by far the best I think. Good luck with your decision