First Days at St. Charles College

St. Charles College is a very quaint school located in the Martinez subdivision of Buenos Aires, Argentina. From the front it looks like a small, brick business building with an imposing green gate separating it from the outside world.

When walking by it, a foreigner would never suspect it to be the premier private school that it is. Upon entering the building you are greeted by one of the four or five receptionists who will lead you through a second set of doors to the main "hub" of the school. 

If you continue straight, you'll run into a cement courtyard painted with various games that children play for during their break period of the school day. The children typically play imaginative games they create amongst themselves or they make use of the soccer goals also located in the cement courtyard. Cattycorner to this area one can see the primary school where children under the age of five attend. The children love to play together and it typically takes a long time to get them to line up when break is over.

If you leave the cement courtyards and travel up the first flight of stairs, you will enter the primary or "junior" level of the school building. Located on this floor are administrative offices for the whole school and the junior levels, the small dining halls, the art room, the library, the music and drama rooms and six classrooms (the junior one, junior two, junior three "A", junior three "B", junior four and junior five classes occupy these rooms). A typical classroom for the junior level kids looks like the one pictured below.

Traveling to the third floor, you can find more administrative offices for the senior levels, the computer lab, and classrooms (the junior six, senior one, senior two, senior four, senior five and senior six classes occupy these rooms). The senior three classroom is the only room that occupies the fourth floor of the building. Senior level classrooms typically look like the one pictured below.


I was surprised to learn how advanced and privileged the school I was placed at was in terms of Argentinian society as a whole. The staff told me this school is one of the very few bilingual schools that exists in the city. Me, being primarily a French and English teacher at the school, it's amazing to see thirteen year old who are already tri-lingual. Students at age five are already spending half their days taking, and succeeding, in classes in a foreign language. That alone is an impressive feat. In this aspect I think this school is breeding the future leaders of their society. The school is very community oriented and the students are close to their teachers. Every student, and parent, is on a first name basis with all teachers and staff.

With that familiarity and closeness, however, I feel the school faculty and staff and loosing the upper-hand by blurring the professional lines we hold near and dear in American culture. Discipline by the teachers seems to, at times, be a problem -- especially getting the children to do something by the second or third time you ask them to do something. However, this also may have to do with the extremely animated nature of the children themselves. They are a very lively bunch and may just be hard to reign in no matter what the situation may be.

I'm very excited for my placements as I will have a chance to work with junior six (ages 10-11) and all senior levels (ages 11-18) at the school. With junior six I will primarily be working with their English skills in the subjects of literature and social studies on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. In the senior levels I will be working with them in their language (English), social studies, literature and French courses each at various times on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

I'm very excited to continue working at St. Charles College and learning more and more from the students, faculty and staff there each day!  


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