Established in 1971, Pan-American School (PAS) is an independent, bilingual international school in Heredia, Costa Rica. Located in the neighborhood of San Antonio de Belén, the PAS campus spans 35,000 square meters and comprises five energy-efficient buildings designed to rest in harmony with nature while providing an ideal environment for teaching and learning. Areas for study and play are framed by a variety of trees and flowering shrubs. The school’s conservation efforts, along with more than 15,000 hours of community service carried out by students and staff last year, have led PAS to earn the maximum five-star Blue Ecological Flag awarded by the Ministry of Education.
Only 20 minutes from the capital, San José, PAS is close to main national roads, shopping centers, and the airport. The school is surrounded by residential areas as well as office buildings and commercial areas, so all services are easily accessible to the campus. The locale is recognized for attracting many high technology companies, such as Intel, which raises the competitiveness index of the region. Belén and the surrounding towns of Santa Ana, Escazú, Ciudad Colón, Heredia, and Alajuela boast a thriving arts scene, where visitors can enjoy parades, festivals, and street theater year-round. Many national festivals and fairs offer Costa Rican celebrations throughout the year. The closest beach, Puntarenas, is about one hour from campus.
PAS is one of the top private schools of Costa Rica, well known for its academic excellence, its supportive family-like environment, and its beautiful campus. Currently enrolled are 545 pre-K–12 students representing 33 countries, with 64% from Costa Rica and 14% from North America and the U.K. The teaching staff of 103 includes 89 teachers from Costa Rica and 12 from North America and the U.K, and the student to teacher/specialist ratio is 5:1. Accredited by the Ministry of Education of Costa Rica as well as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, PAS is well known for its emphasis on service learning, ecological awareness, and use of educational technology. Two cohorts have graduated with International Baccalaureate (IB) Diplomas, and by 2019, the school expects to be authorized to offer the full IB programme, including the Primary and Middle Years Programmes—the first school to do so in Costa Rica. PAS also grants the U.S. high school and the Costa Rica National Baccalaureate diplomas.
In addition to academic facilities—three science laboratories, the Library and Research Center, a new audio recording studio, and specialized music and art classrooms—PAS has ample space for physical activity: two multi-purpose gymnasiums as well as playgrounds and several sports fields for soccer, basketball, volleyball, and an athletic track. Recently, the school has made major renovations to its gym/auditorium and has expanded its fitness and athletic programs. Other recent additions are biology and physics laboratories to support the IB Diploma Programme.
Because of its membership with the Association of American Schools of Central America, the PAS sports program includes participation in local and international events in soccer, basketball, volleyball, and cross country. In addition to these optional offerings, all secondary students participate in a daily fitness and wellness program, for which they choose a physical activity during the first period of each morning. To further support the health and wellness of the school community, PAS employs a full-time physician for staff and students.
Another important feature of this bilingual school is its support of students with special learning needs. Teachers, learning specialists, and psychologists work together to determine and document the specific needs of each student and to make the necessary adaptations to enhance learning. Students requiring significant accommodations are accompanied throughout the school day by a special needs teacher, the cost of which is covered by the student’s family. The school also has a program to assist students needing accelerated or enhanced instruction. Students enter this program through referral from a teacher of a particular subject.
PAS prefers to hire single teachers and couples with a non-teaching spouse but would consider teaching couples and interns. They will also consider outstanding, newly-certified teachers and exceptional experienced teachers lacking certification. Candidates need not hold their academic degree in the subject they will be teaching, and there is no age limit to obtain a work visa in Costa Rica.
The benefits package includes a monthly housing allowance, a moving allowance, and annual roundtrip airfare home. PAS participates in the national health insurance, life insurance, and retirement programs as required by law. Additionally, a teacher may opt to place up to 15% of their salary in a tax-sheltered retirement fund. The tuition benefit is a sliding scale which starts at a 98% remission for early childhood education and is reduced gradually to 90% for the high school years. Other fees are generally paid by the teacher. Staff is required to participate in a minimum of four hours of external professional development (PD) per year, and the school provides approximately 40 hours of internal PD per school year. Full or partial subsidies are available for external programs, depending on the school’s priorities. Worldwide health insurance—with the employee paying a percentage—includes long-term disability. Employees receive a cafeteria subsidy along with free coffee throughout the day. Lastly, an employee association offers additional benefits as well. The overall package allows for some savings, and there are local employment opportunities for non-teaching partners.
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Please note: The information presented about this school was valid on the date published. This information may change, and the most up-to-date information can be found on the school profile.