Besides the obvious challenges of having to acclimate to a different culture, families who move here from other countries face a sometimes daunting list of school requirements when seeking to enroll their children in local schools.
As Admissions Director of Divine Savior Academy in Doral, I work with families from all seven continents who desire admittance into our academy, from preschoolers through Grade 12.
All schools require certain forms and documentation before a student can begin attending classes. Private schools require an application for admittance, a valid birth certificate, official transcripts from previous schools attended, and usually an admissions test that includes math, language, and ability skills components.
Students who have attended international schools need to provide elementary school transcripts (through Grade 3) and, if applicable, official high school transcripts including evaluation and validation of grades by a recognized International Education Consultant Agency, such as WES, Josef Silny and Associates, or another reputable agency. They must also present any past standardized test scores.
Some schools participate in the Student Exchange Visitor Program and may issue a Form 1-20 “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student” which can result in a student obtaining an F-1 visa. As with any culture, knowing the native language is extremely beneficial.
If a parent is able to enroll a child into English programs prior to moving, then the transition into American schools will be much easier. If a student is coming from any other school, national or international, the family will need to supply a recommendation letter from the most recent school attended. (Usually these forms are available on school websites.)
For all public or private schools, Florida law requires the submission of current health forms as well. Both the DH 3040 school entry health exam form (yellow/ white) and the DH 680 certificate of immunizations form (blue/white) must be submitted. Parents can obtain these signed forms from any licensed healthcare provider.
Additionally, for athletic participation, the Florida High School Athletic Association requires all ninth graders to supply original transcripts complete with validated grades from their Grade 8 school year, in addition to updated physical forms
The education of these new members of our community is vital to continue what has long been one of South Florida’s and, specifically Doral’s, greatest strengths—the varied and cultural richness of our population.
Juanita Wells with Divine Savior Academy for the past seven years currently serves at the Admissions Director. She has 32 years of experience as a teacher/school administrator in both the United States and Colombia.