International Student Information
At George School, we are rich in cultural diversity, and our international student program contributes to this diversity. We have students from more than fifty countries who enjoy the rigorous academics, competitive athletics, and the transformative Quaker community that George School provides.
We want our international students to feel at home and to take full advantage of the opportunities to learn and grow as individuals. We have a team of friendly, knowledgeable adult sponsors and student mentors who are always ready to help.
Helpful information for international students and their families
International Student Sponsors and Mentors
Meet Marie-Laure Epaminondas and Michael LoStracco, our friendly, knowledgeable International Student Co-Sponsors. They work throughout the year to help students feel comfortable in their new home at George School. Please contact them with any questions you might have.
International Student Co-Sponsor
Language, Dorm Resident
International Student Co-Sponsor
During the year, our sponsors work closely with students to make sure their experience at George School is meaningful, assist them with travel plans, arrange for home stays with George School families during school breaks, and plan a student assembly to formally introduce them and their country’s culture to the George School community.
International Student Mentors
In addition to our faculty sponsor, a number of experienced George School students serve as mentors for international students. They are selected for their leadership skills and their experience and understanding of what it means to be a new international student at George School. Mentors provide support for international students throughout the year.
International Student Hosting and Guest Guidelines
International students are often in need of local George School host families during the long weekend breaks that occur in the fall (Parents Weekend) and winter (Midwinter Break) as well as during short breaks, such as Thanksgiving in late November.
Hosting international students can be an enjoyable and educational experience for all involved. We hope that the following questions and answers will be helpful to hosting families who take part in this program. (See also Student Guest Guidelines to get another perspective on this experience.)
1. Will my guest student be compatible with our family?
The International Student Sponsors works to make the best possible matches between guest students and host families, making note of information about pets, allergies, and special circumstances as well as information about interests and events the family has planned.
2. Do I have to have a separate bedroom for the guest student?
No, it is fine for same-sex students to room together.
3. Do I have to entertain the guest student or plan special activities?
While arranging special activities can be fun for everyone, your family might prefer to use school breaks to relax and get some extra rest. Often guest students feel the same way. After living in a dorm and being kept on a schedule for most of the year, students could find the opportunity to relax in a homey atmosphere a welcome treat.
4. What do I do if my guest student simply wants to stay in his or her room and read?
Again, this might be exactly what that student needs to do to unwind. Remember, being far from home and having little privacy can be very stressful. Often students want to use some of their break to study and prepare for classes or for standardized tests like the SAT and the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). It is best to offer the guest student the opportunity to participate in family activities and then leave the decision up to him or her.
5. Do I have to require a student to study over the break?
No. The students are solely responsible for determining whether or not they need to study over the break.
6. What do I do if a guest student becomes ill or needs to go to the hospital?
Host parents will be furnished with the name and phone number of the guest student’s state-side guardian, if the student has one, or the student’s parents should there be a need for hospitalization. In the case of hospitalization, George School should also be notified. However, for less serious illness, it is expected that you will care for the student in the same manner that you would care for your own child.
7. May I split the time I am hosting a student during the break with another host family?
As long as George School and all parties are in agreement, it is fine to split the time that you will be hosting a student.
8. Am I expected to bear the cost of any activity to which we take a guest student?
You are not expected to pay for the entertainment of any student. However, it is only fair to give the student an idea of how much money he or she will need over the break, especially if it is a somewhat substantial amount. For instance, if you are planning a ski trip, the guest student would certainly have to know that in advance and be made aware of the cost. It is helpful to let the international student coordinator know about events that are planned before the matches are made.
9. Is it best to host two students at the same time, or just one?
That answer depends on the individual student and the host family. Some young people are able to make themselves at home wherever they might be and don’t need the reassurance of having a friend along. Others might feel more comfortable when they are with another student who speaks their native language. However, if your goal is to integrate the guest student into your family and to share customs and language, then perhaps one student is better for you.
10. May I treat my guest student as a member of the family and expect him or her to do the same things I expect of my own children, such as clearing the table or making the bed?
We would hope that all guest students would take the initiative to offer to help with everyday tasks such as these; however, if they do not, it is perfectly acceptable to ask them for assistance. The goal of this program is not to create more work for our host families, but to provide a safe and comfortable environment for our international students while they are away from home. In general, nothing makes a person feel more a part of a family than to be able to participate as a family member.
11. Are there any legal issues or obligations when housing a guest student?
Your legal responsibilities are no greater than any other time your child might bring a friend home to stay for the night. However, it is expected that all host families will sign a “safe house” pledge which is a promise not to make tobacco, alcohol, or drugs available to any George School student.
12. If I agree to host a student on one occasion, am I obligated to do so again?
No, students’ visits to host families are arranged for one school break at a time.
13. Will my guest student be able to communicate with me in English if I am not familiar with his or her native language?
Foreign-born students have different language abilities. Some students come to George School with a very good command of the English language, while others are still shy about using their English. Every student is, at the very least, fluent enough to make their way about George School on a daily basis. If you are anxious about hosting a student with very limited ability to speak English, please let the international student coordinator know. However, we find that most students and families find a way to communicate. A friendly smile and a caring gesture go a long way in making students feel welcome and relaxed. Also, guest students are encouraged to speak as much English as possible when in a host family home.
14. Is there anything else I should know about hosting a student with limited language ability?
Yes, trying to speak in a language other than your native language for extended periods of time can be exhausting, so be patient with your student and don’t be offended if he or she does not try to keep up a constant conversation. Also, some students are embarrassed by their limited ability, so letting them see that you are pleased with their efforts is a wonderful way to encourage your student to use this time with you to improve their English.
15. Is it important for me to know anything in particular about my guest student’s culture?
Of course, it is always nice to understand a bit about a person’s background, but it is not necessary. A wonderful way to start a conversation with the guest student is to ask about the food, traditions, holidays, or general culture about the country and city/town where he/she lives. International students are experts about their own cultures, and generally students are happy to talk about what their home countries are like. If you would like more information about your student’s culture, the international student coordinator will be more than happy to provide that to you.
International students are often in need of local George School host families during the long weekend breaks that occur in the fall (Parents’ Weekend) and winter (Midwinter Break) as well as during short breaks, such as Thanksgiving in late November.
Staying with local host families during those breaks is an enjoyable and educational experience for all involved. We hope that the following questions and answers will be helpful to students who take part in this program. (See also Hosting International Students to get another perspective on this experience.)
1. Will I stay with my U.S. guardian during my short breaks?
If you have a guardian who lives nearby and is willing to host you during a break, that is fine. However, sometimes staying with them during short breaks is not possible. It is under these circumstances that we try to arrange a George School host family to house you for the break.
2. Do I get to choose my host family?
If you are invited by a friend to stay with a George School family over the break, we certainly would encourage you to do so. However, if you are in need of housing during a break, but have not received an invitation, the George School Deans’ Office and international student coordinator will do their best to match you with a compatible host family. You should get in touch with the international student coordinator as early as possible to arrange for plans.
3. What if I am not fluent in English yet? Am I expected to speak English during my entire stay?
Your host family will not be expecting perfection. However, we do encourage you to try to speak as much English as possible during your visit. This is a great opportunity to improve your speaking skills and you will probably find that your host family is more than willing to help you.
4. Do I have to participate in everything that my host family does?
If your host family has special plans for the break, you will be made aware of them before you accept their invitation. Some families enjoy staying home and resting during the break, while others prefer to go on short trips. You will not be expected to stay with any family whose plans would create a financial hardship for you. However, if you agree to stay with a host family, it is expected that you will integrate yourself into their family life to some extent. It is always expected that your visit should not create additional work for your host family, so please be polite and make your bed, clean up your dishes, keep your room tidy, and ask what you can do to help out around the house.
5. May I take a friend along with me on my stay?
This would be up to the host family. Some families might prefer two students at a time, while others are comfortable only hosting one student.
6. Will the family I stay with be the family of a student I know from my classes?
Not necessarily. It is not always possible to match students with families that have children in the same classes. Since George School is such a small and friendly community, you might know your host student from seeing them on campus and saying “hello,” and if not you will have the chance to make a new friend.
7. If I am a vegetarian, allergic to cats, or afraid of dogs, will my host family know?
Yes, as long as you let the international student coordinator know this information. Our staff would never place a student in a home where dietary restrictions could not be honored or in a home where your health or safety would be compromised.
8. What if I don’t get along with my host family?
While George School does its best to create compatible matches between students and families, there is a possibility that personalities might clash. Since these stays are of relatively short duration, it is expected that both the host family and student will try to make the best of any situation. Remember, however, that host families volunteer to take in our students, so we know that they will do their best to make you feel at home.
Please remember that the George School staff and the international student sponsors are always happy to answer questions regarding this program!
International Student Parents’ Handbook
Top Sixteen Things You Need to Know
Dorm Head Contacts
Health and Medicine
Host Family Program
International Student Assembly
Skype and Facetime
Travel (Arrivals and Departures)
Your student will be assigned an advisor when he or she arrives at George School. An advisor usually has between four to nine advisees, who all meet as a group during the week. The advisor answers questions, makes sure your student is feeling well, and shows an interest in their academic and extracurricular activities. Advisors often attend sporting events, dance and music performances, and other programs that may involve your student. The advisor helps your student select courses every year.
The advisor is the person you can call and email when you have questions. When you receive your student’s term reports, the advisor has provided summaries of your student’s achievements in the classroom. The advisor is here to help you and your student have a positive experience at George School.
George School provides a variety of services for boarding students to simplify their on-campus purchases at the school store and snack bar (Bettye’s Place), for off-campus activities such as movies and shopping, for travel to and from home, or for weekend activities. By providing a variety of alternatives, we minimize the need for students to carry cash on campus and we encourage them to keep only a small amount of cash with them or in their dorm rooms.
Visit our Student Services section for more information on student banking.
All returning students arrive on Sunday, September 2, unless you are a preseason athlete or are a student leader required to return early.
Fall Break (Saturday, October 20 to Monday, October 22)
There are no classes on Monday, October 22. Boarders return on Monday, October 22 by 7:00 p.m. Classes resume on Tuesday, October 23.
Thanksgiving (Thursday, November 15 to Monday, November 26)
The last exam ends at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, November 15. Students are expected to leave the dorm by Thursday afternoon and return on Monday, November 26 by 7:00 p.m. Classes resume on Tuesday, November 27.
Holiday Break (Friday, December 21 to Sunday, January 6)
There are no classes on Friday, December 21. Students are expected to leave the dorm by Friday afternoon and return on Sunday, January 6 by 7:00 p.m. Classes resume on Monday, January 7.
Mid-winter Break (Friday, February 1 to Monday, February 4)
Classes end at 12:00 noon on Friday, February 1. Students are expected to leave the dorm by Friday afternoon and return on Monday, February 4 by 7:00 p.m. Classes resume on Tuesday, February 5.
Spring Break (Thursday, March 7 to Monday, March 25)
The last exam ends at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 7. Students are expected to leave the dorm by Thursday afternoon and return on Monday, March 25 by 7:00 p.m. Classes resume on Tuesday, March 26.
Departure (Thursday, June 6)
The last exam ends at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, June 6. Students are expected to leave the dorm by Thursday afternoon.
There are three breaks during the year when the dorms are closed and students are required to leave campus. The breaks are: Thanksgiving Break, Holiday Break, and Spring Break. Please refer to the Host Family Program if your child is unable to travel home during the school year breaks.
Cell phones are permitted at George School. Students are expected to learn the community’s rules about cell phone use (see page 18 of the Community Handbook). Most cell phone carriers’ plans work very well on our campus. We recommend you research a variety of international calling plans before you purchase a phone.
Course planning is based upon a combination of factors. A student’s grade of entry and graduation requirements are considered. Most students take six or seven courses. When a student enrolls, the Registrar will suggest a recommended list of courses based upon the student’s previous transcript. Some new students will be required to take placement tests. Questions about course selection should be directed to Laura Kinnel (firstname.lastname@example.org or 215.579.6528).
In February every year, course planning begins between the student, advisor and parents. Additional meetings are held during Term 2 and 3.
There are three breaks during the year when the dorms are closed and students are required to leave campus. The breaks are: Thanksgiving Break, Holiday Break, and Spring Break. Please refer to Breaks for specific dates.
Dorm Head Contacts
Campbell: Kevin Davis 215.579.6754, email@example.com
Westwood: Kathleen O’Neal 215.579.6813, firstname.lastname@example.org
Orton: Tom Hoopes ’83 215.579.6656, email@example.com
West Main: Susan Ross 215.579.6792, firstname.lastname@example.org
East Main: Colleen Davis 215.579.6782, email@example.com
Central Main: Julia Nickles 215.579.6793, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lower Drayton: Andy Lehto 215.579.6765 email@example.com
Upper Drayton: Laurie Moyer 215.579.6763 firstname.lastname@example.org
Brown House: Steven E. S. Fletcher 215.579.6756, email@example.com
Every George School student is issued an email account, which is part of our internal communication network. All students are expected to check their email several times a day. Training is provided when your student arrives to George School.
Health and Medicine
The George School Medication Policy requires that the Student Health and Wellness Center (SHWC) be notified of all prescription and non-prescription medications for all students so that interactions with other medications may be avoided and side effects recognized. All prescription or non-prescription medications, including antibiotics and nutritional or herbal supplements must be brought to the SHWC. Students may not keep any of these medications in their dorm rooms. If your child becomes ill, a Health and Wellness Center professional will contact you. The contact the SHWC, please call 215.579.6715.
• Thanksgiving – November 15 to November 26
• Holiday Break – December 21 to January 6
• Spring Break – March 7 to March 25
Most students that need a place to stay during a break will ask an American friend if he or she can stay with the family. As your son or daughter makes more and more friends, this part becomes easier!
If no plans are made, the student can contact Marie-Laure Epaminondas who will work to match your child with a George School family. The host family usually has a currently enrolled student at George School, although your child may not know the student.
Once your child has been assigned to a host family, you will be provided with contact information for the family. The American family will include your child in all of their family activities and traditions, so it is a unique and special experience.
International Student Assembly
The International Student Assembly is an exciting program that is planned and organized by the international students, the International Student Sponsors, and faculty members. All international students are invited to participate by sharing their talents in the performing arts. Whether your son or daughter is a dancer, singer, actor, juggler, artist, or is interested in lighting, sound, and stage management, there is a place for his or her talent in the Assembly. While the George School community is energized by this special program every year, your child will also learn important lessons about courage, creative problem-solving, leadership, teamwork, and time management.
George School offers wireless access to the Internet. Students are expected to learn the community’s rules about Internet use (see page 56 in the Community Handbook for our Acceptable Use Policy).
All new students receive training on the use of our data systems and network, telephone, and voice mail systems when they first arrive to George School. The training will cover guidelines for appropriate use, including the use of the Internet and social media. Students can use the Internet and our email system (Office 365) to communicate with you at home. Skype and Facetime are permitted.
The Deans’ Office is the place where students who would like to leave campus get permission and sign out. The Deans’ Office staff allows day absences, overnight absences, and car permissions based on what parents have selected on the parent portal. Only parents can set and change a student’s permissions. This is done by logging in to the Parent Portal.
Students are able to sign out to walk to stores in Newtown or across the street in the shopping area. If they are walking, students do not need to get specific permission—they just sign out in the Deans’ Office.
Travel (Arrivals and Departures)
George School has vacation periods during the 2018-2019 academic year when students are required to leave campus. When making travel plans remember to allow at least six hours between your child’s departure from campus and arrival at area airports. Please refer to the exam schedule for appropriate end-of-term travel times. Exams cannot be changed to accommodate travel arrangements. The Deans’ Office needs to receive all travel information well in advance. Please see Travel Guidelines for deadlines that the Deans’ Office needs to receive your child’s travel information by.
• Thanksgiving Break (follows Term 1 Exams)—November 15 to November 26
• Holiday Break—December 21 to January 6
• Spring Break (follows Term 2 Exams)—March 7 to March 25
For all weekend absences and vacations, the Deans’ Office needs the following information:
• Host’s* name, address, and phone number
• Date of departure
• Type of transportation (car/air/train/other—please specify)
• Transportation details
• If your child is riding in a car, with whom?
• If your child is flying, include the airport the flight departs from, airline, flight number(s), and departure time.
• If you need help from the Deans’ Office for ground transportation to and from the train station or airport, please let us know.
*If students are not traveling home, they need an invitation from their host and your permission. These invitations and permissions can be emailed to the Deans’ Office.
The only exception is for international students who can receive an excused absence on that day for travel back to their home country (see page 31 of the Community Handbook for further information regarding attendance policies).
During Spring Break (from March 7 to March 25), international students are allowed to stay on campus for no more than two consecutive nights at the beginning of a break, and to return to school no more than two nights early at the end of a break.
For additional information about attendance and travel policies, see pages 42 and 48 in the Community Handbook. If you have any questions, please contact the Deans’ Office.
Read more about travelling to and from George School.