The Foreign Service Journal, December 2020

extended spring break midway through the spring semester. Finally, technology plays an important role. Mandatory wrist bands that moni- tor students’ temperature, oxygen levels and sleep patterns are in place in many schools, as are phone apps that measure social distancing. The industry demonstrated it could adapt rapidly to the new circumstances and keep everyone safe and their studies progressing. Several lessons have been learned that ensure American boarding schools will remain at the forefront of best practices in secondary education. First and foremost is that students learn best in small caring communities that remain in place, fostering the strong rela- tionships at the core of effective teaching and learning. Continuing Appeal for Foreign Service Families As they have for decades, American boarding schools remain a popular choice for Foreign Service parents to educate their children, whether they are posted at home or abroad. FS careers are rewarding, but they come with a lot of transitions for professionals and their families. Each new overseas assignment brings excitement, as well as its own set of com- plexities, many surrounding an officer’s dependents. Is this a safe posting for Americans? Are there suitable educa- tional options for the kids? When are we often invite me to stay with them over the weekend. [It] feels a lot like the Foreign Service to me because everyone looks out for one another.” Says Eva’s mother, Christy, a member of the Foreign Service: “Boarding school felt like an international school with a strong sense of community. I can see that she’s more confident about trying a new sport or activity without the fear of failure.” More Affordable than You Might Think These students and many like them would like their high school experience to be four years at the same institution, and boarding schools are uniquely suited to meet this need. Foreign Service parents exploring the boarding school option should inquire about the possibility of a four-year financial aid package rather than the typical annual arrangement. Some schools can tailor a multiyear award that accounts for a change in educational allowances. This can be particularly helpful for a family that starts abroad and is then posted at the agency headquarters in Washington, D.C., for a short tour. A multiyear financial aid package can make remaining at the same school possible. For those families who do end up posted in Washington, D.C., the large number of mid-Atlantic boarding schools may be particularly attractive. Just a few hours from the district by car, parents based at agency headquarters or coming through for consultations or short courses will find it easy to attend their child’s sporting events, parents’ weekend and arrange short weekend stays. If family members find themselves in a short-term evacuated status from their assigned post, placements at boarding likely to move again? What are the differ- ent educational allowances? How can the State Department assist us in navigating our options? By the time they are teenagers, chil- dren start to consider these complexities, as well, and to express opinions. “Another move! Are you kidding me?” exclaimed one such student on news of a new post- ing. The constancy of a single high school experience now outweighs any excite- ment that may come from a new location. For this student and many like him, maintaining some level of continuity and social stability is often a major consider- ation. Parents see the value, as well. These students want to settle into a new school with the knowledge they can commit, because they know they will stay to gradu- ate with friends and teammates. Like many other children with parents working abroad, this student and many like him chose an American boarding school. Eva, a freshman at a Virginia board- ing school, offers this about her experi- ence: “During my first visit to [campus], I had an instant connection to one of the teachers, because we had both lived in Oman at the same time. During my first semester away from home, sophomores helped me with homesickness, and my teachers helped me stay focused on coursework. They encouraged me to play basketball for the first time, and I loved it. I am getting the attention I need in the classroom, and friends who are day stu- dents (local students who do not board) Mandatory wrist bands that monitor students’ temperature, oxygen levels and sleep patterns are in place inmany schools, as are phone apps that measure social distancing. 78 DECEMBER 2020 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL EDUCATION SUPPLEMENT