Find Your Fit: International School Culture and Values

CRIA Costa Rica international school students class pictureHere’s a hot take: Too often, we, as a society, don’t fully address educational values. Many times, the emphasis is more on finding a school that’s close, or convenient, or has made the list of the best international American schools, the top international baccalaureate in Costa Rica, or a similar accolade. 

We’ll start by saying that, at CRIA, we believe in strong academics, college preparation, and education rooted in four moral domains. But before we get into that, let’s talk a little about our fascinating human history. 

Did you know that, since the first human, more than 117 billion people have walked planet earth? That’s nearly 15 times the number of people alive today. Just take a minute to consider the hundreds of thousands of years of cultural evolution that our ancestors have refined, accumulated, and passed down to us – the values that have evolved over time and spread around the world, leading to the most prosperous times in the history of humanity. Merely the thought is mind-boggling!

And, while we have evolved and educated ourselves into industry and modernity and longer lifespans, did you know that the most common age today is a mere 26 years old? The next generation is young and we, as parents and educators, have so much to teach and share with them. (And still so much to learn, ourselves!)

That’s where your and our values come into play. 

The Four Domains of CRIA School Values

CRIA teachersAs custodians of the next generation, we must teach and pass on the collective wisdom held within the millennia of customs and traditions.

We teach these things in many ways. At home, you model good and worthy behaviors. At the best international American schools, including CRIA, we strive to echo and reinforce those same values and behaviors.

With this in mind, values are an important element in choosing a school for your child or children. And so, you may be surprised to learn that many schools considered “elite” or “progressive” or any other term, may not reflect your values. In subtle ways, they may even teach in contrast to your values.  

We want you to find the right fit. So, at CRIA, we’re honest and transparent, so you can make an educated and informed decision for your family. Because you allow educators a privileged place in your child’s life; it is our responsibility to educate and transmit the wisdom of the ages – values passed down through our customs and traditions, and then learned anew in every generation.  

At CRIA, we craft our values based on four domains:  

  1.   Moral Values
  2.   Performance Values
  3.   Intellectual Values
  4.   Civic Values

To help you determine whether your values align with ours, let’s do a deeper dive into each. 

Are You a Values Match? 4 Ways to Determine School-Family Compatibility

Your child’s education is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in their young lives. As great parents, you want to make the right decision. That may involve anything from searching for the best international American schools to seeking out great extracurriculars. 

And yet, so often, when looking at schools, parents focus only on the academics. And while CRIA has very strong academics and offers a rigorous college preparatory program, your decision should be based on more than that.  

Because children are not just students; they are whole people. And education isn’t just about academics, either. In Costa Rica, we have a verb, educar. Its closest English equivalent (and cognate) is “to educate,” but in Spanish, educar is much more of a comprehensive picture – a call to raise good people, in every aspect.  

That’s what we believe in at CRIA: educando, not just educating our students. And that’s why values form such an integral part of our school’s ethos and offerings. Here’s how to see whether our values align: 

Moral Values

CRIA international school students beach cleaning

When you were a school-aged kid, did you learn the Golden Rule? (We’re betting yes. We’re a generation!) 

The Golden Rule teaches us to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” In other words, it’s a call to treat others the way we hope to be treated.

Traditionally, this has translated to moral values that include trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, compassion, and caring. At CRIA, we believe in teaching these values – these guiding principles that matter to the world, to our everyday lives, and to the way we teach and you choose a school for your children and family.

Performance Values

From small private schools to the very best international American schools, any quality school will have a strategic plan that develops the topics that matter most to student growth and the school’s community.  

What sets the great apart from just the good is a strategic plan that incorporates values. For CRIA, that extends to values like self-discipline, diligence, organization, and self-confidence, in order to achieve measurable academic outcomes for each of our students.

Here’s what to watch for: When touring schools, look for the school’s measurable external academic outcomes and/or goals. Among the questions we recommend you ask, we suggest focusing on a school that emphasizes individual student performance. Anything else is a potential red flag.

Intellectual Values

graduating seniors at CRIA, a Costa Rica international school

Traditionally, one of the many hats an educator wears is to transmit human heritage – the cultural knowledge we have accumulated – within the academic disciplines.

At CRIA, this comprehensive approach to education helps equip our students with the skills required to be analytical thinkers and problem-solvers with insatiable curiosity, conscious humility, and open-mindedness.

If that sounds like it aligns with your family’s values, a good test for potential schools is to focus on whether they actively promote a growth mindset. In schools, a fixed mindset is evident in fatalist attitudes, while a growth mindset manifests as a sense of belonging, curiosity and creativity, self-confidence, and self-reliance in all students, no matter their backgrounds.

Civic Values

Costa Rica beach cleanup with CRIA Academy international schoolYou’ll find that in Costa Rica, civics, ethics, and values are an important part of the curriculum. At CRIA, this is evident in our approach to teamwork, leadership, civility, and decency – the civic values that lead to successful students and student outcomes.

Civic values encompass the above-referenced wisdom, passed down through ages to each succeeding generation. At CRIA, you will see these values in our student rights and responsibilities policy. We also teach respect for private property, and discuss the “shall nots” of lying, cheating, stealing, or hurting others. 

We believe this should be part of any school community’s learning experience. Students should learn the importance of integrity and of following through on promises, whether contractual or verbal. There should be little tolerance for crude behavior or language, and common courtesy as simple as forming lines to take your turn, taking off your hat in the classroom, and demonstrating compassion and caring for others. As we said, the Golden Rule.  

Find Values-Based Education at CRIA

Are you exploring opportunities for high-quality education, at one of the best international American schools? Welcome to CRIA!

We are a U.S. and Costa Rica-accredited international school with a strong academic and value-based offering. Here, in a land blessed by kindness, Western values, and a culture of pride rooted in the freedoms of a constitutional republic, we seek to pass these on to your children, the next generation. 

Our teachers have a positive growth mindset and focus on the above four domains of values, either implicitly or explicitly. Because we can all learn from Costa Rica’s example of how to promote freedom, values that work, and prosperity within a country.  

CRIA is proud to be part of such a successful society.  These four value domains of values are embedded in our ethos of “Think. Aspire. Achieve.” CRIA employs the Character Counts! Program to teach values: It’s the most widely used (at U.S. accredited schools) values program in the world, with over 40 years of time-tested success in K-12 character education.

If these four domains of values resonate with your family’s values, then a school such as CRIA is a place where your child can thrive. 

Please consider joining our CRIA family. We look forward to hearing about your journey. Learn more about the CRIA admissions process and get in touch to schedule a campus visit. We look forward to it!