A METHOD FOR GROWTH
There are many elements to the foundation of the Tree of Life experience. Every event, moment and chore is deeply rooted in our core values. We believe that it is through such events that these values cement themselves. The learning experience is not only for our students. Both teachers and parents are also vital parts in the process, for we believe in the larger family that is our school.
LEARNING BY DOING
Students in Tree of Life learn by doing. Students make sense of their experiences in which they actively engage in making things and exploring the world. Through trial and error, they can learn to adjust and reach a goal. This pedagogical approach engages learners in a more hands-on and creative mode of learning. Projects are designed to fuse different disciplines (math and art, english and music, tech and humanities, etc.). An interdisciplinary viewpoint is key.
Tree of Life International School follows constructivist principles, believing that children must be respected as the central agent in their own learning. The school provides a context for that learning with open-plan classrooms, where teachers are guides in each child’s process of making new knowledge his or her own through construction.
Teachers, parents and students form an education partnership, where attitudes, values, habits and skills are developed that facilitate learning for life.
A hallmark of Tree of Life classes is learning by doing, through projects that have personal significance.
AT THE FOREFRONT
We place the student up front and center. They are given a vote and a voice in Student-Teacher-Parent meetings, Student Government, and as one of the stakeholders in the TOPS organization. Students host all school events as masters of ceremony.
To maintain a strong student-teacher relationship, students participate in the 7 Habits Council and also participate in the creation of class rules and rubrics. They are urged to speak up in class, reflecting on their own progress.
SELF-WORTH THROUGH ART
We place artistic value on the same scale as intellect and academia. The main event of the year is a musical play where most of the students show their abilities in English, performance, singing, dancing, and speaking on stage with commitment and enthusiasm that rivals a Broadway play.
Among other performative events, we have the Talent Show, the Christmas Parade at Escazú Avenue. Growing confidence, nurturing talents, and developing a sense of community is pivotal to our goals.
From grade 8 onwards, high school students may choose up to six hours per semester from a catalogue of elective courses that allows them to earn extra high school credits. Courses are designed to introduce students to activities they may never have considered, giving them new life skills. They also provide an introduction to Cambridge electives such as Music, Theater, Art & Design, Technology & Design, Business, Nutrition, Physical Education, Psychology and more.
STRENGTH THROUGH NATURE
A tradition since 2012, the 7 Habit Camp features everything that we think makes TOLIS students special. First, the students (7-18 yrs) leave technology and home comforts behind, staying in rustic dorms where they clean up after themselves and work together in house teams. Second, they explore their limits and discover new appreciation of nature, through hikes, physical challenges, games and quiet time. Third, they reflect on their work as individuals and as teams, drawing out of the experience the importance of each of the 7 habits. Lastly, the experience becomes a touchstone for the rest of the year: if you have braved the “Leap of Faith” or faced the mud pits of the Jungle Challenge, you are up for anything!
A CIVIC MINDSET
How to be agents of change? How can we understand the rol we each must take in society? In school we take our first steps as future citizens of the world. At TOLIS we seek to temple their headstrong spirit, help them understand the core values of a global society, and instill them the universal truths that drive development and progress.
Democracy and civic duties are fundamental aspects of a proactive youth. In 2019 a group of eight TOLIS students from grades 9-11 participated in the Youth Parliament for over one month, debating on current issues affecting the environment. Their research brought them into contact with sitting members of the Costa Rican Legislature, as well as other student delegates from countries such as Japan, Mexico and Spain.
FACING THE WORLD
We strive to develop a sense of globalist ideals in our students. TOLIS has a MUN elective course where students practice parliamentary debate, develop their research skills and gain awareness about global issues. Each semester, we participate in Model United Nations events.
In March 2020, TOLIS hosted its first ever internal MUN for students grade 6-11. We also participated in the Lincoln Model United Nations, our first ever virtual Model UN, on May 21-22, 2020.
In 2019, a group of students travelled to Guangyi International School located in Hunan Province, China. The goal was to experience boarding school life, practice the Mandarin language, as well as meet Chinese teachers and students.
A CARING HEART
Our children are not raised in a vacuum. Every day we help them see the myriad of realities that lie in every corner. To understand other’s suffering means to take action.
This is why we have REDES, an innovative solidarity program where our students participate in mentoring programs where they teach other kids in areas such as technology.
More than 80 families in Santa Ana have benefited from this program. The recipients of this program received over 8 weeks of tech training, including 3D design and printing, programming, and electronic circuitry.