After a very successful second year in their temporary Campestre home, Ak Lu’um International School inaugurated their beautiful new and permanent jungle campus with a well attended Open House. A small ceremony of was performed to give thanks and bless the new school site as the Ak Lu’um teachers and students launch into a new year of learning and exploration. Teachers and administrators were all in attendance to greet returning parents and students and tour them through the new installations. The new campus, with its spacious and airy classrooms, will accommodate up to 80 students, ages 2 through 10. The Open House drew quite a few new Playa families investigating education options for their young children and welcomed back returning students, excited to embark on an exciting new year.
Established in 2006, Ak Lu’um (Mayan for “Our Earth”) adopts a Waldorf inspired learning program thoughtfully blended with a Learning Through the Arts educational model. The school was created to address the needs of our rapidly growing and diverse community with an emphasis on recognizing and celebrating our children’s differences rather than forcing them to conform to any preconceived models. Accommodating students from all over the world and from all socio-economic levels, Ak Lu’um is truly unique in its integration of special needs children into mainstream classrooms as well as social integration of underprivileged children attending the school on scholarship, thus teaching children to be tolerant and open-minded. With a maximum of 15 children in any classroom, the student to teacher ratio is kept low, ensuring that each child is given the personalized attention they deserve as they blaze their individual educational path. Ak Lu’um is fully accredited by SEP with an eye toward becoming an International Baccalaureate (IB) School, a designation lauded worldwide.
The global vision of Ak Lu’um is reflected not only in the teaching methodology but also in the design of the new campus. Designed to blend with its jungle surroundings and constructed using as many natural and sustainable materials as possible, the campus reflects the school’s emphasis on non-invasive living to reduce our carbon footprint, preserve our natural resources and protect our environment. Some traditional Mayan building techniques have been employed in the “village like” layout, the construction of the school buildings and perimeter fencing, celebrating the enduring culture of the indigenous peoples of this region. The new campus is completely “off the grid”, relying only on wind and solar power to provide what electricity is necessary for daily functions. Water is pumped in from underground cenotes and waste is collected and treated without adverse affects to the delicate water table. These ecologically friendly systems, in coordination with onsite composting and recycling, show the children how to live in harmony with nature and teach valuable living skills that are imperative if we are to minimize our impact on the sensitive ecology that surrounds us.
Ak Lu’um is a truly bilingual school, with half of the school day (SEP curriculum) being conducted in Spanish and the other (Waldorf studies) in English. In coordination with their traditional government mandated SEP studies, students will also participate in activities such as raising chickens and harvesting eggs, maintaining a kitchen garden, preparing school meals, bread making, and jungle exploration, not only rounding out their educational experience but enriching their hearts , minds and bodies. Seasonal celebrations, fairy tales, art, music and creative movement are all used to teach both traditional and alternative learning concepts in a meaningful way that the children will absorb naturally and remember. The school will offer workshops for all parents throughout the year to help them integrate family activities at home with what the children are studying at school and emphasizing the importance of “leading by example”.
Ak Lu'um International School is Playa del Carmen’s only non-profit private school, welcoming and encouraging support and participation from parents and other interested members of the community. Fundraisers will be organized throughout the school year to solicit donations for further development of the campus and classrooms. High on the wish list is the installation of a semi-Olympic swimming pool! Opportunities exist for those members of the community able to sponsor or co-sponsor a student whose family is not able to cover the cost of schooling. Families whose children are receiving these cherished scholarships are encouraged to contribute their time and personal resources to the school in return.
Registration for the Ak Lu’um International School 2008-2009 school year is now open. Ak Lu’um is located in the jungle on the west side of 307, just south of Palomar/Gotcha Family Entertainment Park, before the new Sindicado de Taxistas building. For more information, visit the school website www.akluum.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org . School leaders Siobhan Bowers and Gaby Nunez will be happy to show off the new facility, explain the school philosophy and curriculum and answer any questions.