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Message from the Executive Director

 
 
Mark Iver Sylte
Executive Director

Dear Members of the ASF Community,

Many of you have been on campus to return books and materials and pick up personal items. We wish you all a restful summer. I want to say a special word of appreciation to our men and women in operations, security, and safety, the personnel from Klean and PBI, and to our infirmary staff and office assistants who first greet you at the gate; all have organized to keep us safe and healthy this week.

As some of you may notice, there is a new sign up at the gate. I've even had some people write to ask if we are soon starting construction.

The short answer is—no, and not for a while. ASF is a school driven by the support of its parent and alumni community, our Parent Association, generous donors from Mexico, and support from businesses and others, like the U.S. Embassy, who believe in our mission. As a not-for-profit institution, every pesos that comes to the school in the form of tuition and fees remains at ASF and supports salaries for teachers, professional development, instructional materials, textbooks for classes and balls for PE, chemicals for science labs, vendors who clean our facilities and protect the community, and thousands of other things.

Generous donors help support us in other ways, too. A small group of the 400+ students who receive partial tuition in the form of financial aid each year receive their support from generous individuals who fund named scholarships.

Some of the upgrades to campus, particularly in the area of health, safety, and security, are funded by the U.S. State Department's Office of Overseas Schools.

If we can save money from one area of the budget it is immediately directed into a project to improve the educational program or facilities of the school. I still marvel how, my very first year, we pulled off the creation, construction, staffing and inauguration of the Lower School MakerSpace with careful budgeting, the support of the ASF Board of Trustees, and parent donations. As soon as we can, we"ll get started on the ECC, Middle School and Upper School versions of this creation and innovation space.

And then there are the mega projects—facilities which radically transform not just our facilities but our ability to serve students and the larger community. Can anyone today imagine ASF without the Jenkins Foundation Wellness Center (WEC) or the Ángeles Espinosa Yglesias Fine Arts Center (FAC)? How much richer are our offerings to students, faculty, parents, and the community because of these spaces?

We have all known for some time that our ECC is in need of renovation and our Lower School needs to be replaced. Generations of ASF graduates remember these spaces fondly and our new plans honor these spaces while offering to future generations of graduates enhanced facilities and, with these, new programs. For several years we have been planning with architects and educational specialists. For many months now, we have been working with government offices on permitting.

That permitting process, though not entirely complete, requires that we post our intentions publicly. Does that mean we are on the verge of new construction? Not yet. There is enormous work ahead of us with a capital campaign. While the ASF Board of Trustees has been a faithful steward of school resources to gather foundational money for these projects, we will once again depend on the support of our community to see it through.

We recognize that this is a difficult time for many in our community, and an uncertain time in Mexico for all of us. This project will very likely begin later, and take longer, than we had anticipated even two years ago.

But education is, in itself, an act of faith. As parents, we make sacrifices for our children precisely because we have faith in their future and hope for a better tomorrow. For now, think of this project as a seed planted by the ASF community. It may take some time before we begin to see the first shoots push up through the soil. As the English proverb to, though, From Little Acorns Do Mighty Oaks Grow. That holds true for schools as well as children.

Sincerely yours,

Mark Iver Sylte, Executive Director