Panama, Casco Viejo, San Felipe
A few years ago, a dream was born. A group of young parents decided to have and raise their children in Casco. There were no bilingual schools at the time, and in fact, there was a perception (outside Casco) that this was not the neighbourhood to raise a family. But this small group was not about to back down. They were passionate casqueños and took on the challenge. They started using their homes as small kindergartens. Eventually, more space and resources were needed. A teacher came in, and one thing led to the next, all of a sudden the big first step: renting a formal building.
Fast forward to September 2021, to the inauguration of The Casco School second building. It has been an exciting journey, from birth to surviving covid. Today we are proud to interview Claire Jenkinson to learn about their unique story.
- Tell us a bit about yourself, your background in teaching and managing schools. Is that how you got to Panama?
I graduated from Leeds University, England, with a Bachelor of Science in Computing and Management. This led me to work all over the world programming in the medical field. Eventually, working in Ghana, I volunteered in a school, and that led to a career change, and I studied as a post graduate in Education. I soon found myself in the international teaching circuit and came to Panama to open another British school here. I fell in love with the country and Casco Viejo, which has been my home for the past eight years.
2.How did The Casco School project come to you?
I love living in Casco; however, even I was a little hesitant, we would have enough families living here to sustain the school. As a friend and neighbour, the founding parents hosting the playgroup in their houses persuaded me to take on the project. We started with just 8 paying families and 2 neighbourhood children on scholarships. Roll on 3 years, and we have 150 primary children enrolled and 17 in the high school. Students live all over the city, and we utilise the museums, galleries and wealth of professionals living here to support learning for students and see the UNESCO world heritage site of Casco Viejo as the students’ campus.
3.What do you think Casco brings to the learning experience of your students versus other neighbourhoods? I know I loved to see you and your teachers taking your mini-classes everywhere from trick and treat to the beach!
The British school system is based on experiential learning, shifting from textbooks and memorisation as learning methodologies to understanding the science behind learning and bringing experiences to life. When studying habitats, our students can visit the beach here in Casco, observe all the life of a rockpool and its mini-ecosystem, and watch hermit crabs migrate. Visiting museums, students participate in talks from professionals, study artefacts and visit galleries to enhance the student experience. The school has a real sense of community.
- We are so excited about the expansion! Tell us about your new building and what is happening right now.
We have just moved the primary school to Galleria, San Felipe on the second street and launched the high school on Avenida B. The primary school now has 12 classrooms, a beautiful garden and a playground and enrols students from 2 to 10 years old. The Casco High School is a new project for 2021 and has grades 6 to 8 open with a planned expansion of one grade per year to complete high school with students studying from their IGCSE and IB diplomas. We have teachers from all over the world delivering our internationally recognised curriculum and a student body representing over 30 nationalities.
- What would be your message for a parent moving to Panama? Why Casco School, and how can they get in touch with you?
There are a wealth of schools in Panama, all offering different curriculums and unique advantages. It’s important to do your research, to find ones that align with your values and the ways in which you want your children to be educated. The Casco School brings a new model to Panama; smaller personalised schools with a British program, fully bilingual and with a creative Arts and music program. To learn more or get in touch, visit our website www.thecascoschool.com or email [email protected]