I am the parent of two Preschool age children at IST. My son is starting his 3rd year in the Spanish program and is thriving. He's Spanish is amazing considering neither of his parents speak the language. He's had the opportunity to learn Chinese, play chess and participate in Zumba as well. We love IST. The teachers are amazing. I am in awe of the different opportunities my children receive at school. My husband and I have been considering a move out of state and frankly IST is the major "plus" for us to remain in Tucson.
As a parent, I saw last year how some families had been bullied by the head of school ( and by extension their children). We were one of them. The academic level is very low in Math (4 lessons in 6 months) and especially in English. We realized it when our children left IST for a charter school during the year. Their never had any behavior issue, we were just afraid for their security. The best move ever ! Denying the fact would not help the directory to resolve problems.
I have three children currently IST. My oldest have just started their sixth year. It is true that over the course of that time, there have been some transitions. What is not true, is what some people are saying about the result. The current Head of School is no dictator. He is strict. He has required certain standards be met and has pushed for consistency of program. He has required the use of testing across the board for students. He has also adopted a no-tolerance bullying policy. Some of these changes have angered some parents of children who were attending for years before. My family has welcomed them. Perhaps more importantly to new readers considering the school, my children are flourishing academically. The older two are reading, writing, and comprehending slightly above age-level (on a native scale) in Spanish and a year-and-a-half above age-level in English. One of their classmates is ranked nationally in mathematics! The teachers are well qualified. I know, for instance, that at least five teachers have Masters degrees, one in the preschool, three in the junior school, and one (music teacher) that teaches both; one of these is currently in a PhD program. I say try it!
I am a parent at the school and also a board member. I am posting here to explain some of the bimodal reviews. This is a young school and as such has gone through significant culture changes as it went from a startup school to a growing, thriving programme and acquired an experienced international school head of school. A handful of the families that were with the school in its early days have not been able to adjust to the more academic atmosphere and have taken to posting abusive reviews. There's no school that's perfect for everybody and we wish them luck with their new choices. Meanwhile the new programme has been proven very attractive and our enrollment rates (and student retention into the elementary school) has never been better. Staff and student morale is high and the children are thriving under the improved system. I have been awed with my child's ability to acquire a language not routinely spoken at home and the love of learning she has developed with the help of our wonderful teachers and administrators. Come for a tour of the school and check for yourself our unique, vibrant community, our confident children, and our first-rate language, music and science classes.
The junior school is no longer an immersion program. There is no language acquisition expert on staff. New head of school doesn't seem to understand that language arts class is not the same as immersion. He is a bully. He threatens children with expulsion if parents have valid concerns. The preschool is good, but the junior school really isn't as strong as public school options.
Not happy with this school. Academics are not as strong as other schools. Some teachers are not trained or certified teachers.
The environment provides for diversity of thought and rich cultural experience. Great teachers, dedicated to educating the children and providing true international education. Excellent parent involvement, feels like a family.
This is a truly unique school for the US. The preschool (which includes grade K) is a full language immersion program in French, German, Chinese or Spanish. It is amazing how fluent the kids can get with play-based instruction, even those whose parents only speak English at home. In the elementary school (which starts at Gr 1) kids get about 12 hours of foreign language instruction (so about half the day) and the other half is English, Science, PE etc. My daughter went to a traditional K and only moved to IST at grade 1. My impression is that she learned just as much (if not more) in English in half the time and she started picking up a foreign language, so don't worry that the English suffers. Kid's brains are amazing. There's a great new head of school (Jul 2013 so ignore the review on the previous administrator) that added a science lab, a computer lab, an art studio, and is introducing international-level academic testing. It is a private school but for K and elementary they have access to foundations with scholarships with quite high qualification limits (eg, for a family of four the income limit is 80K/year) so there's great diversity. Ask for a "test" day to try it out.
Wonderful school with top notch education and programs. My kids have flourished at IST. New Head of School is wonderful! Love the fact they are fluent in Spanish. German, French and Chinese offered too. Also love the sense of community.
Very unhappy with this school. The materials are poor, the administration is rude and disorganized. The tuition is terribly high for the inexperienced and unqualified staff!
Bad, bad, bad. My child does not speak the immersion language in class and the teacher is not enforcing it. The leadership seems confused, the tuition is going up so I thine my best decision would be to go out.
We had the opportunity to attend the schools summer program in Chinese and in Spanish. My girls absolutely loved the program and the the teachers. They came home everyday singing songs, using new words, and writing in their new found language. I am so sad we can not afford to go here during the school year. What a wonderful place if you are looking to raise a child with global skills.
My son is bi-literate-which essentially means he can not only speak Spanish but read and write it. I don't speak Spanish at home so the only language learning he is getting is through school. I have friends who are native speakers and comment all the time how amazing my son speaks and how he doesn't have an American accent. And on a few occasions my son has even corrected their pronunciation of a word. Next year he will begin his 3rd language and be bi-literate and trilingual. Every unit they do an Expo and the younger kids sing songs and do plays to show what they have learned in the unit and the older children do plays or hold question and answer sessions to show off their knowledge. My son isn't afraid of public speaking because of all the opportunities he has to get up in front of an audience and speak-from the Expos to the Southern Arizona Language Fair. My son has many opportunities to grow and learn at this school that I don't think he would get at another one. The teachers are amazing!!! can't say enough good things about this school or the people in it.
The previous review is inaccurate. IST still has teachers from its first year! Many teachers are exchange teachers so they leave at the of their visa. I and most other parents think the exchange teachers are a strength and not a weakness. The school grows each year and most of the teachers hired because of the growth each year are still there. One of the people "leaving in droves" actually left at the end of last school year. One went on medical leave. One was a substitute. One was fired. And the other one left for a full-time job in China. We have been at IST for five years and could not be happier. We have friends with children in other schools and we see the difference This is the first year the school has asked for money and that is because of the new campus. IST is a private school and fundraising is important. One of the nice things about IST is that everything is transparent. The administration tells us everything in the parent-only newsletter or on the website. Last year the school expelled a student and this year they fired an administrator. Maybe this is the reason for the negative review.
My daughter loves this school and is learning a lot! The kids learn to be creative and share well too.
We have two children in the school and they have been excelling academically and in their second (and third) languages. However in the last year they have really started to grow in the extracurricular activities such as music and basketball. It's nice to see that IST has championship winning sports team to complement their prowess in language and chess! Now the school is moving in January to a beautiful 32,000 sq. ft. facility near University Medical Center in Jefferson Park. This eliminates the only negative about the school which were it's crowded facilities. We couldn't be more pleased!
Our son started at the school on August 1 and we have been very happy with the school overall and particularly the quality of the teachers and the administrative staff. They are available, present, and interested in talking with you. Our son had no background with Spanish and within a week he was speaking Spanish in full sentences at home. We love the school and couldn't be happier with our choice.
Our son just started his second year at the school, and we have been very impressed with his growth, his development has really improved, and it has been a joy to see him so excited to learn! The program is a nice balance of academic and art, but what impresses us mostly is the dedication of his teacher to seeing that our child succeeds - truly a gift! Everyone at the school has been very helpful and pleasant! Bottom line is, our son loves going to school each day, loves his teacher, and loves every aspect of learning (edu). He is a happy well balanced six year old, and has a formidable foundation from which to build on.
I am a teacher at IST. I absolutely love the school and working here has been an amazing privilege. I have grown a great deal both professionally and personally during my time here, due in large part to the guidance and expertise of the schools directors and the collegial and supportive nature of my colleagues. IST is more than just a wonderful school it is also an extremely caring community full of wonderful people. The accepting and supportive nature of parents, families and teachers also extends to the way in which students interact with one another. This heightened appreciation for diversity and broadened view of the world both locally and globally, without a doubt helps to foster and encourage inquisitive, appreciative and confident learners and citizens that we are all very proud of. The global perspectives that IST promote equips our students with a vital set of skills that will help them to succeed in our increasingly international society. I strongly recommend the International School of Tucson for parents or families looking for a uniquely diverse and academically beneficial educational experience for their children. David Rutledge Junior School English Teacher
My daughter is now in her second year at IST. During her time there I have been continually amazed by the commitment of the teachers and staff and the quality of the education she is receiving. I love IST because it isn't just a school, it is a community, and diverse one too for such a small school!
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