The Ashton School was founded in 1998, inspired by the ideals, methods and techniques of the New Zealand educator Sylvia Ashton.
The school started as a family project with just a house as its facility, fewer than ten teachers and only 35 students in Kindergarten through third grade. In the following years it opened one grade level per year, and in 2003 a Pre-kinder level was opened.
In our third year, the academic building was constructed to hold the elementary grades. The swimming pool and the administrative buildings were added in the same year.
By the sixth year, a second facility had been acquired allowing access via another route and aiding in the flow of people to the institution.
Today the school serves a population of 407 students ranging in grades Pre-Kinder through 12th and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and recognized by the National Ministry of Education of the Dominican Republic (MINERD).
Sylvia Ashton Warner
The name of the school is given in honor of a great teacher from New Zealand, Sylvia Ashton, who dedicated part of her life to educate children, teaching them English as a second language, while respecting and maintaining their customs and cultural identities.
Sylvia Ashton Warner was born in 1908, in Stratford, New Zealand, to a family of nine children. Her childhood was marked by extreme material deprivation and interrupted schooling.
In 1926 when Sylvia Ashton turned 18 she became a pupil teacher at Wellington South School in Wellington, New Zealand. In February 1928 she entered the “Auckland Teacher’s Training College”. Sylvia Ashton married Keith Henderson in Wellington on Tuesday, August 23, 1931 and gave birth to three children.
She worked with her husband in various schools, and centered her entire life on education and teaching English as a second language. Among her greatest virtues is the recognition of each person’s special meaning which was one of the primary reasons for her joy and sense of responsibility when educating children.
Changes it has Experienced in the Last Three Years:
Over the last three years, the school has transitioned embarking on a systematic process of school improvement. In accordance with the first Visiting Team’s recommendations and required actions, the Board of Directors quickly took action to move the school in a direction that would allow us to work in compliance with new and greater expectations from our community, given the fact that the school had been granted accreditation in the 2009-2010 school year.
The Board of Directors was reorganized, the position of Head of School was created, new administrators were hired and the school’s Board and leadership began the process of paving the way for Ashton’s future, starting with the development of a five-year Strategic/School Improvement Plan from which respective Action Plans have been generated.
With participation from representatives of all stakeholder groups, the new Strategic/School Improvement Plan brought new Vision and Mission statements that communicate the school’s purpose of providing a challenging academic program shaped by international and national standards, values based on biblical principles, enhanced with physical and cultural experiences, so its students will be able to integrate their academic knowledge and skills with wisdom, respect, and love for God and others.
This led to reforms and initiatives such as:
– Procuring the services of Dr. Jane Pollock as our curriculum, instruction and assessment consultant over a four to five year period;
– Producing healthy turnover despite having to pay substantial amounts of severance remunerations;
– Launching a 1:1 iPad program for the Middle and High School Division;
– Starting an after school, tuition-included program where 60% of our students now participate in after school activities;
– Restructuring the high school academic program to phase out a dual language framework that was reducing exposure to English instruction and accommodating it for science instruction in order to better prepare students for local higher education;
– Developing a series of extended learning and leadership opportunities for high school students and other achievements that will be noted later in the report.
In order to maintain these higher quality standards and initiatives, the Board and school leadership approved a substantial tuition increase for the 2012-2013 school year. Unfortunately, this significantly contributed to our enrollment decreasing from 508 students in the 2011-2012 school year to our current number of 407 students. Although parent feedback is favorable, as seen in the stakeholder feedback yearly surveys, several families in the community simply have not been able to meet the rising cost of tuition.
This challenge led us to an opportunity of limiting growth plans to two classrooms per grade level instead of three and allowed us to begin a gradual expansion of learning spaces for students by turning the space that was occupied by three classrooms into two larger classrooms. Expansion has already taken place in 1st and 2nd grades as well as the science laboratory.