Edron Academy, Mexico
Eamonn Mullally, interim teacher of Edron Academy, talks with TIC about teaching and living in Mexico.
Edron Academy is a prestigious bilingual international school, well established in Mexico City. It was set up fifty years ago as an international school for all children, by a Canadian and a Welshman; Ed and Ron! The name and philosophy reflects the down-to-earth nature of the school.
Edron Academy teaches all ages (from Early Years to age 18) and all nationalities. It is a very popular international school choice for local Mexican families who recognise its liberal values that encourage the development of free thinking and creative talents in combination with academic rigour. 95% of the school’s current intake is Mexican, many with links to the UK or whose own parents or family members attended the school. There are also American, British and other Latin American students. Edron has some notable alumni including the Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal and the writer Jennifer Clement, who is now a school governor.
The school has very high academic standards; 98% of students achieve an A-C pass in IGCSE and 96% of its senior students pass the IB Diploma.
Teaching at Edron Academy
There are 146 full time teachers at Edron Academy. This includes 51 teachers from the UK as well as teachers from eight other nationalities, mostly European and Australasian. Over 80 local Mexican teachers work alongside the expatriate staff to deliver the bilingual learning element of the curriculum. This provides great mentoring opportunities. There’s a broad range of teaching experience within the school; from 3 to 40 years resulting in a vibrant mix of skill and new talent.
In 2014 Edron Academy will go through COBIS (Council of British International Schools) and ISI (Independent Schools Inspectorate) inspections. As the first school in Mexico to do this, the validation by such respected organisations will help to set the school apart from other international schools in the region.
Living in Mexico
British expatriate, Eamonn Mullally is the Interim Headteacher at Edron Academy. He has worked at the school for four years and has also worked in international schools in America and the Netherlands. “Mexico City is an amazing city full of rich experiences, friendly people and a relatively low cost of living,” he explains. “There’s a great live music scene and many cultural events. The people, the food and the climate are all fantastic! You feel very safe here. It’s a first-class city in a developing country, and an ideal base from which to travel and explore all of north and south America; an hour’s flight and you’re on the Pacific. The Caribbean is close at hand too!”
And the challenges of living in Mexico? “Well, the size and altitude of the city can take some getting used to. 25 million people live in Mexico City but it certainly doesn’t have the pollution problem that it used to have. The city is a mile above sea level; the school is another 1,000 feet above that! We can have some surprising cool snaps, but no buildings have heating so warm clothes are essential!”
Teaching opportunities at Edron Academy
As for recruiting for Edron Academy, Eamonn says he is looking for enthusiastic, dynamic, visionary teachers: “Teachers who are team players, flexible in their teaching approach and dedicated to ongoing development,” he says. “The Edron community is a friendly, supportive and forward-thinking one. Everybody can expect to play a part in school development in some way. Our students are some of the friendliest and most respectful that I have ever taught,” he adds. “It’s an excellent opportunity to experience a fully bicultural, bilingual school with a different educational system. Many of our new teachers comment on the fact that they really do have freedom to teach, like they’ve never had before.”
Benefits for Edron Teachers
A teaching job with Edron Academy comes with a wide range of additional benefits including housing rental allowance and basic furniture, medical insurance, a savings scheme including an annual employee match, free entry to museums and discounted long distance bus travel during the vacations (as a member of SEP – the Mexican Secretariat of Public Education), airline flights at the end of the initial contract and annually thereafter, Christmas and summer bonuses, access to an on-site doctor, and CPD opportunities. £500 is given each year towards a Masters degree for teachers who are continuing their studying.
Edron Academy works closely with its new appointments well before their move to Mexico; helping them to plan their relocation, assigning staff member ‘buddies’ to connect with, and ensuring that an appropriate apartment is acquired and waiting on arrival. Where possible, new staff members are flown out together and everyone is met by a member of the welcome team to ensure that, from their very first step into Mexico, it is a supported and positive experience. In addition to a week of events and orientation, small details that make all the difference, such as being provided with a Pay-as-you-Go mobile phone and internet dongle, ensure immediate connectivity to the world, helping new teachers to settle in.
Thinking about teaching internationally: Advice from an expert
Having taught internationally for 14 years, Eamonn has plenty of advice for teachers considering an international teaching post for the very first time: “Recognise that living and working in a country is not like a holiday,” he says. “A great job isn’t just about the money; cultural and professional opportunities are also important considerations when selecting your next move. Here in Latin America it’s very much about the experience; it’s such a great place to live and Mexican’s love a party! When making your selection, check that the school is right for you. Do your homework, make the most of free expert advice (such as TIC), ask to contact a current employee to find out more about a school you’re considering, and trust your instincts too. Once you’ve made your move, be prepared to be flexible and expect the unexpected. It can be intense living and socialising with the same people, so strike out further afield too; you can connect with people outside of the school community through sports, expat and cultural groups”
Eamonn sums up the experience of working at Edron Academy: “It’s a great learning community for all; both students and teachers. We work hard and we also have fun. Mexico really does give you an experience you’ll never forget!”
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