Academic Overview

Academic Program

We believe that seeking truth and pursuing a fuller understanding of the world in which we live is a lifelong process. We endeavor to give students the practical and academic foundation they will need to continue to learn and grow.Seniors at Monteverde Friends School in Costa Rica become friends for life.

We cultivate open minds, critical thinking, and curiosity, seeking to make inquiry and involvement a way of life.

Our commitment to truth encompasses deep listening, honest intellectual investigation, and waiting patiently for the guidance of the Spirit. We hope to heighten awareness and an active sense of awe and wonder.

Mixed Grades:

The kindergarten combines Pre-K, Kinder, and Preparatory grades in one classroom, is bilingual, and follows a Montessori curriculum. In grades 1-12, all classes combine two grades and the curriculum is run on a two-year cycle, such that one year all 9th and 10th graders study Earth Science and the next year all study Biology. In grades 1-12, two thirds of the curriculum is taught in English and one third in Spanish. Students who are not proficient enough in Spanish to participate in Spanish Language Arts and Social Studies, targeted at students with native or near-native proficiency, are placed in Spanish as a Second Language courses.

Our combined-grade classes have a size of about 16 students, which means that there are about 8 students in each grade. Our small multi-grade classes provide an excellent opportunity to accommodate a range of learning styles. Teachers employ a variety of teaching methodologies to address these diverse learning styles and allow individual students to strive toward their potential. Teachers promote sharing, and creative and cooperative learning, and the pursuit of independent learning goals. Students are encouraged to develop critical thinking skills that will allow them to identify problems and create strategies to find solutions.

Bilingual Education:

Local and international students studying outside at Monteverde Friends School

As an English-predominant bilingual school, two-thirds of the curriculum is taught in English and one third in Spanish. Students learn from each other, and from their teachers and other adults in the school, in authentic interactions in the two languages. Students who are not Spanish-dominant begin with Spanish as a Second Language before entering the full immersion Spanish program. English as a Second Language is required for non-English speakers who enter at first or second grade. Students admitted to the school after second grade must be appropriately proficient in English.

Holistic Education:

Education at MFS is holistic, reflecting the values of the Quaker community. In addition to our academic pursuits, we search for the spiritual meaning in day-to-day life. We encourage reflection, questioning, and appreciation for the life of the Spirit in our daily interactions and during our Wednesday Meeting for Worship, which all students and teachers attend. Students prepare for Meeting for Worship with special pre-Meeting classes in their homerooms, which is a time for reflective and community-building activities. Students, teachers, staff, and their families are also welcome to participate in the Sunday Quaker Meeting for Worship and Children’s Meeting (Sunday School), if they so choose, further strengthening our ties to the community in which we live and work.

Happy student at Monteverde Friends School making pizzaStudents come to understand how their personal choices can produce change in a larger, interdependent world. As they grapple with ethical issues, solve real problems, and actively serve their neighbors, they discover how to build and extend a sense of community amongst themselves and others. They also learn to participate responsibly in the larger community and in the world at large. Within the school as well as in the larger community, we seek to live in ways that eliminate the causes of war, injustice, and violence. Learning to resolve conflicts in just and creative ways that promote an understanding of the needs of others is standard practice at the Monteverde Friends School.

Students learn about themselves and explore their own roles in the world. They learn to care for others and for themselves as a foundation for healthy engagement with the challenges and gifts of life.

Courses and Rankings:

Students take classes in Mathematics, Science, History and English, all taught in English by experienced teachers, many credentialed in the United States and Canada. Each semester, all students (except those enrolled in Spanish as a Second Language) also study Spanish Language Arts and Costa Rican Social Studies, both taught in Spanish by Costa Rican teachers according to the curriculum of the Costa Rican Ministerio de Educación Pública. All students are required to take classes in the arts, Health and Physical Education, as well as quarterly mini-courses which focus on the following: arts and crafts, practical skills, sports, and outdoor activities.

At Monteverde Friends School no classes are labeled “Honors”. The school believes that students with different academic abilities bring valuable perspectives and gifts into the community. The school curriculum is designed so that high-achieving students in a given class may produce work comparable in level to honors level work as it is understood in the United States. Exchange students who come to MFS from honors classes in the United States, in addition to local students who have attended rigorous independent schools in the United States as exchange students, have found MFS courses to provide at least an equivalent level of academic challenge, if not more so.

Monteverde Friends School does not provide class rankings for its students. With a graduating class of between one and eight students each year, class rankings are not statistically significant. Moreover, the school does not believe that class rankings reflect the unique gifts and abilities of each student within the community.

Testing and Results:

High school student working hard on academic studies at Monteverde Friends School in Costa RicaThe eleven seniors who took the SATs in 2008-2010 scored an average of 643 on Critical Reading, 623 on Math, and 622 on writing. In those same years seven students took the SAT II Spanish test, with an average score of 784, two took the Ecological Biology test (average 700), two took the Molecular Biology test (average 605), and one took the Math Level 1 test (760).

All (100%) of the seniors who have taken the Costa Rican Bachillerato examinations have earned diplomas from the Costa Rican Ministerio de Educación Pública.

Within the past several years, graduates have gone on to attend to Grinnell, Oberlin, Georgetown, Bowdoin, Mount Holyoke, SUNY Ulster, Principia College, and the University of Costa Rica. Prior to that, MFS graduates continued their studies at Berea College, Boston College, Earlham College, Warren Wilson College, Yale University, and other U.S. institutions. In Costa Rica, graduates have attended the University of Costa Rica, the Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica, the Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica, the Universidad Santa Lucía, and the Universidad Latina.

In November 2008, MFS received national recognition because one of its graduates placed number one in the country on the University of Costa Rica entrance exams.