PAA's International Program Expands

February 01, 2012 | Liesl Vistaunet

Both international and American students at Portland Adventist Academy (PAA) benefit from a new Smart Start Program.

Organized by Maria Bibb, international director, Smart Start pairs new international students with American students before the school year begins. The pairs spend two weeks attending educational and recreational fieldtrips, learning about the ins and outs of PAA life, and practicing English.

Bibb's concerns for her students were the catalyst for Smart Start. She noticed that more and more of her students were starting school before familiarizing themselves with their host families, the new culture and the school. Smart Start takes care of those problems while giving Bibb the chance to assess their abilities for proper academic placement.

The Smart Start plan also gives a financial advantage to the American student mentors, who are paid for the weeks they spend helping the international students with their English. By the time the two weeks are up, they have each earned a month of tuition.

"It's a win-win," explains Bibb. "It provides employment for PAA students while giving a big advantage to our new international students."

This year's Smart Start was such a success, plans for next school year are already being made. "We're looking to expand to three weeks," says Bibb. "And we hope to accommodate possibly 20 international students."