A Welcome from the Director


It is a pleasure to welcome you to Balboa Academy, a school founded in the historic Panama Canal area, a location that has facilitated an important, global exchange of world cultures and innovations. Balboa Academy draws from this rich tradition. We are a diverse community with students and families coming from a wide variety of backgrounds brought together with a common vision: Collaborate to Innovate, Together Succeed.

We are committed to our belief in each student’s capacity to be a purposeful learner, a critical and creative thinker, an effective communicator, a problem-solver, and a community contributor.  We follow a rigorous curriculum aligned to U.S. Common Core Math and Language Arts Standards, AERO International Standards for World Languages, Social Studies, Science and Fine Arts, and the Panama Ministry of Education National Education Standards.  We offer the U.S. Advanced Placement (AP) program in our High School and those students who meet the requirements can earn an AP International Diploma. We hold ourselves accountable to the very high standards set by the AdvancEd U.S accreditation organization.

We are attentive to international educational trends and curriculum so that our students who move internationally are prepared for success in future international schools, and we collect feedback from families who move to ensure that we achieve just that. We prepare our students to be successful in the international and national universities of their choosing as demonstrated by our college admission results year after year. We are very proud of the remarkable accomplishments of all our students.

Choosing the right school for a child is one of the most important decisions that parents make, and we make an effort to share as much information as possible through our website to help you make the best decision for your individual child. We invite you to get to know Balboa Academy through our website, www.balboaacademy.org. We hope that through our website you will get a glimpse at the same joy and excitement for learning among our students as we experience face-to-face each day.

It is my privilege and honor to be a part of the Balboa Academy community.


Helen Kiser

Helen Kiser has been at Balboa Academy since 2003.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish and Business and a teaching credential from the University of New Mexico.  She also holds a Master of Arts degrees in Bilingual Education from the University of New Mexico and a post-Masters credential in Educational Leadership and Supervision from Johns Hopkins University. She is Balboa Academy’s second school director.


Core Belief

We believe in the extraordinary capacity of children to learn and reach their maximum potential in an educational institution that strives for excellence, is staffed with experienced teachers dedicated to education specialized in their respective fields, and implements a broad and sequential plan of study that emphasizes the development of critical analytical skills.


Balboa Academy offers an English language, U.S. accredited, college preparatory curriculum to multinational students from preschool through twelfth grade.


Collaborate to Innovate, Together Succeed

Organizational Structure

Balboa Academy is an organization guided by a Board of Directors comprised of the founding members and a Parent Teacher board. The Academy is led by a Director with proven experience in school administration. The teachers are highly skilled native English-speakers.

Special Services

Balboa Academy offers the following services:

  1. Remedial math and reading during school hours.
  2. Speech, physical, and occupational therapy are available at the school by contract during school hours.

About Balboa Academy Education

Andrea Torchin
Director of Teaching and Learning
University of California

Balboa Academy has been very successful in getting our students accepted into the college or university of their choice. 98% of our graduating seniors attend a four year, two year, or junior college. Click on College Enrollment to see the colleges and universities our graduating seniors have attended over the past three years.

College Enrollment

Balboa Academy utilizes NWEA’s Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) tests to measure student achievement in reading, language usage and math. MAP tests are given in fall and spring of each year to grades 3-9. In the spring, grade 2 also takes the MAP test. The MAP test is a US standards aligned computerized adaptive assessment that accurately reflects the instructional level of each student and measures growth over time

Advanced Placement (AP) Courses and Examination

Balboa Academy offers courses and examinations for high school students at a college level through College Board’s AP Program. According to the College Board, “Through AP’s college-level courses and exams, you can earn college credit and advanced placement, stand out in the admission process, and learn from some of the most skilled, dedicated, and inspiring teachers in the world”.

The AP Program offers several AP Scholar Awards to recognize high school students who have demonstrated college-level achievement through AP courses and exams. The AP Scholar is granted to students who receive scores of 3 or higher on three or more AP exams. Sixteen students at Balboa Academy earned AP Scholar awards from the College Board in recognition of their exceptional educational achievement in 2012. The AP Scholar with Honor award is granted to students who receive an average score of at least 3.25 on all AP Exams taken, and 3 or higher on four or more of these exams. Ten students at BA received this award in 2012. The AP Scholar with Distinction award is granted to students who receive an average score of at least 3.5 on all AP Exams taken, and scores of 3 or higher on five or more of these exams. Seven students received the AP Scholar with Distinction award. Lastly, the AP International Diploma is awarded to students who receive 3 or higher on five or more AP Exams in three or more subject areas. One student at BA received this prestigious diploma in 2012. In total, thirty-four students received AP Scholar awards in 2012.

In 2012, 129 students took AP Exams with a total of 248 exams. 102 students (79%) received a 3 or better on the College Board Advanced Placement Examination and received college credit or advanced placement recognition from the college or university they attended. 100% of the Seniors in 2012 scored 3 or higher on at least one AP Exam at any point during their high school career divided by the total number of our seniors. AP exam scores are an important factor in determining college acceptance and how well prepared students are for college-level work.

Introduction to College Writing

Through a partnership with the University of San Diego, juniors and seniors may receive college credit for completing the Introduction to College Writing Course. In 2011, fifteen students received credit for this course.


All 10th and 11th grade students take the College Board Preliminary Scholastic Achievement Test (PSAT) and second semester 11th grade and 12th grade students take College Board Scholastic Achievement Test (SAT).


Many different kinds of students are successful at Balboa Academy. There is no typical applicant. We are looking for dedicated students who want to learn and contribute to our learning community. Balboa Academy is an international school where students from many different countries and cultures can pursue a variety of diverse interests and grow into knowledgeable and independent thinking young adults.

What is the Admission Process

When the enrollment application, report cards, letters of recommendation, and other documents are received, these documents are presented to the Admissions Committee at their weekly Thursday meeting. After a thorough review of the documents, the Admissions Committee will determine if the student is a good candidate for enrollment. The parents will be notified by e-mail. If the student is a good candidate, an appointment will be made for admissions testing and interview by the Education Specialist. The results of the admissions test and recommendation of the Education Specialist will be presented to the Admissions Committee at the next meeting. The parents will be notified of the final decision by e-mail and a start date will be determined.

What the Admissions Committee considers in order of importance:

  1. English speaking ability. English proficiency is required as all class content is in English.
  2. Space and services must be available to meet needs of enrolling student.
  3. Siblings of enrolled students.
  4. Students must meet age requirement for corresponding grade, i.e. 3, 4, or 5 years of age as of August 1st for entry into the PK3, PK 4 and Kindergarten programs.

How Admission Decisions are Made

The admission of students to Balboa Academy defines who we are and what we aspire to be as a school. The goal of the admissions process is to determine if the personal and academic strengths of the prospective student will fit with the vision and values of the school. We also want to ensure that a U.S. education is right for the student and that the school offers an environment in which the student will be happy and successful.

School records, teacher recommendations, and application materials provide the Admissions Committee with important information on how the student functions in school and what his learning style, achievements, and social behavior are in an academic environment. In addition, the interviews with the Education Specialist and faculty members, as well as admission testing, are all used to assess the student.

What matters most, however, is the overall impression that is revealed by the applicant. While the degree of expectation varies from grade to grade, certain desirable qualities and standards remain constant:

  • Character: leadership, cooperativeness, honesty, capacity for friendship
  • Work Ethics: willingness to take risks, perseverance, and discipline in completing tasks
  • Competence: academic promise and achievement, the love of learning
  • Language Ability: the ability to converse, read and understand English as the instructional language.

What the Admission Committee Does

The Admissions Committee will

  1. Review the student’s records.
  2. Determine if a student is a good candidate for enrollment.
  3. Determine if space is available and, if so, establishes an evaluation date.
  4. Makes the final decision to accept or reject each applicant.

It is a Balboa Academy’s policy not to provide the reason for denial of admission. Notification of acceptance for enrollment will be by e-mail.

Tuition and Fees


Competitive Sports Philosophy

Our philosophy for the competitive athletic program provides boys and girls with the opportunity to integrate personal growth in leadership and athletic skills. The dynamics of interpersonal relationships are an important consideration of the Athletic Department. Coaches stress teamwork, sportsmanship, interpersonal communication, self-sacrifice and the building of friendships. Our coaches take proper consideration for fairness, ethics, respect, and a sense of fellowship with one’s competitors. As athletes interact with others and are challenged to develop their talents, they learn about themselves in a way not possible in the classroom.

Athletics have been called a microcosm of life, and as such they become an invaluable window to the inner person. Playing competitive sports is challenging not only physically and mentally, but emotionally as well. It consequently provides experiences that mirror life itself with its struggles, battles, disciplines, rewards, successes, failures, disappointments, and challenges. Seeing athletics in this light makes it easy to understand its purpose and value.

Competitive sports take a substantial position in our culture today, and they challenge us to know and understand their redemptive value. To compete means, “to strive in opposition.” By definition it requires a desire and an effort to win, without which there would be no competition. Therefore, the Balboa Academy athlete unapologetically has the intent to win.

These activities are meant to serve as avenues for leadership development or practice in using skills, attitudes, and knowledge that will help students prepare for future experiences. The goal is to contribute to the development of well-rounded students.

Team Philosophy

High School Teams

The high school level is an advanced level of play: students should start the season in proper condition, have the appropriate fundamental skills, and know basic strategies and all rules. Balboa Academy’s goal at this level is to field the strongest, most competitive team. (Players may not play in every game at this level.) This level provides an opportunity for players to play at a collegiate level after Balboa Academy.

Middle School Teams

The middle school level stresses learning and refining fundamental skills, game strategies, game knowledge, and rules. The middle school teams are a building block for the high school teams. Participation is the hallmark of the middle school level. At this level, it is anticipated that all team members will play in every game.

Elementary School Teams

Every elementary school student is provided an opportunity to play on a team. The emphasis at this level is on instruction, development, teamwork, fair play, and sportsmanship. Participation is a key component for elementary school teams. At this level, it is anticipated that all team members will play in every game.

When there are large numbers of students participating in a sport, there may be multiple teams based on ability level.