We are about children and learning. If you are seeking an outstanding pre-kinder through high school education in Guatemala, read on.

Over the past three decades Equity American School has successfully implemented a long-term, coherent pedagogy, focused on creating learners who are academically competent and equipped to excel at the next level of education; who use knowledge as a tool; who express themselves intelligently, logically, and creatively; and who view themselves as lifelong learners, who currently have the knowledge, skills, and values necessary to stand out among their peers.

Our educational philosophy creates a dynamic pedagogical focus. We employ a pedagogical model at the pre-primary and early primary levels that strongly aligns itself with the research of B.F. Skinner. Knowledge and skills are broken down into systematic and hierarchical steps small enough for students to learn, with clear directions given by the teacher as many times as necessary. The development of students is best achieved through positive reinforcement, which is most effectively given by teachers who enjoy interacting with students and are excited about being part of the learning process.

A young student’s development is best achieved through immediate feedback, which is most effectively accomplished in small classrooms with a low student to teacher ratio. Assessment and evaluation are used frequently throughout our students’ time with us to record (and transmit) our students’ success in modeling the level-appropriate behaviors we have identified as most effectively leading to their future success. These fundamental components of behaviorism remain a cornerstone of the Equity American School education from enrollment to graduation.

However, Equity American School fully embraces the central and active role of our students in constructing their own knowledge. We offer a learner-centered educational environment in which our educators strive to offer a diversity of learning experiences. We then aid students in their assimilation of the knowledge, skills, and values they confront into their existing frameworks, or when necessary and as often as possible, to create new frameworks.

The curriculum and its presentation by the teachers is designed to continually motivate our students to question and evaluate what they are learning. This process of critical thinking is increasingly introduced into the curriculum as students mature and have constructed sufficient frameworks to logically evaluate what they have learned. As early as fourth grade, constructivist elements are systematically introduced into language-based activities and subject areas. The upper primary students are challenged by their teachers with open-ended questions and creative projects that don’t have finite answers, challenge their prior knowledge, and motivate original thought. From seventh through twelfth grades, rhetorical questions, class debates, authentic real-world discussions, and creative projects are integrated into all subject areas. (Our mathematics curriculum tends to reserve such projects for our more gifted students and/or as extra-credit or end of the year assignments.)

In conjunction, but apart from our curriculum, we offer experiences that further support our belief that a student’s development is best achieved through authentic learning as opposed to classroom-based teaching. At the primary level (first through sixth grades), these extra-curricular activities include an established yearlong after school program with a wide range of topics for students to choose from and explore. At the upper school (seventh through twelfth grades), extra-curricular activities include participation in a highly active and empowered student government, a bi-annual literary magazine, and a quarterly student-run upper school newspaper.

Despite the extensive use of active learning techniques, the curriculum and educational staff maintain that throughout a student’s educational experience with Equity American School, certain behaviors need to be continually modeled and evaluated. These behaviors include our goals for their academic, physical, artistic/musical, and ethical development. Direct teaching that attempts to appeal to auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learners equally and a curriculum that takes advantage of high-quality textbooks, supporting materials, and current technology are indispensable.

A value system –best exemplified by our ‘core ideals’- that is modeled by our staff and required of our students through a written and oft-discussed honor code (see Student and Parents Handbook) is indispensable. The content listed in our curriculum and our honor code are deemed essential for future success. Our academic content and values are taught by competent and engaged teachers who have a highly personalized familiarity with the small number of students under their responsibility. Our teachers are highly effective in observing and adapting to each child’s proximal zone of development to keep all students interested and challenged by the curriculum.

Ultimately, Equity American School hopes to be the beginning of our students’ lifelong journey of self-improvement through education. As a reinforcement of this belief, all graduates are required to apply to at least three universities and be accepted to at least one during their last year of study with us. We present an educational philosophy and a pedagogical focus designed to prepare Equity American School students to succeed in their adult lives by providing them the necessary tools and by helping them form study and moral conduct habits that will lead to success in an ever more challenging world.