I have two sons at ISTP; one in eight grade and one in first grade. We are in the French program but do not speak French at home. This school has been a tremendous experience for both of my sons and is a wonderful community for parents. Not only are my sons immersed in the French language, but they are also being taught critical-thinking skills and how to become global citizens. My older son started in Pre-K. We left the school for two years when my husband had an expat assignment in Sydney, Australia, and my son had just finished the first half of first grade. We placed my son into second grade in a public school with a French program in Sydney. The teachers were very impressed that my son had a perfect accent when my husband and I were Americans and did not speak French at home. My son easily transitioned back into ISTP in the third grade and is finishing his last year. He was recently accepted into his top choice for private high school. I believe ISTP has prepared him well to be a well-rounded student and is ready for the new challenges high school will bring. I am also pleased that my younger son still has years to experience ISTP.
Our daughter is in her third year at ISTP in the Chinese program. She started in the nursery program and she is beyond happy and excited to go to school every day. Our daughter is quite shy, but she has never once complained about going to school. We have found the entire community- teachers, administrators and other parents to be extremely welcoming and helpful. The innovative curriculum and forward-thinking leadership of the school make me feel very confident that our daughter is getting the best possible education. On top of it all, she is learning about the world around her, math concepts, science, how to read and write- all in Chinese. She is also doing very well in her literacy development in English.
We have our older son in the ISTP Chinese Program for the past 3 years (from Nursery and now Kindergarten). We have an excellent experience dealing with school administration, they are always responsive and professional in all they do. The teachers were excellent. They focused on my son at every point of his development. Everything they do to guide him was "intentional". We feel that all the teachers are genuinely passionate in what they do, they care about the kids. The staff turnover has been extremely low. Every year, when your child is transitioned to the next level, they have a 'game plan', they try to match teachers/ students learning style. Onto parent community involvement. We experienced such a strong network of parent groups here. One family has a recent "in a pinch" need due to medical surgery (and subsequent recovery time). Almost 20 families over two school campuses helped where they can. None of that is possible, unless the parent groups actually support the school/ parents community. There is no "best" school. ISTP may not be the most suitable school for every family, but we looked far and wide, and this is a great place for us.
I tried to put my French kids in this school in the middle of the year as we arrived in mid December 2014, most of the people I met in this school was not professional (not answering emails or providing fake chances of succes). At the end my 3 kids are in other schools in Los Altos (Hills) and I'm very happy for that, I will not try to put them in ISTP anymore.
We have had children at this school for 4 years. I have been impressed with the teachers and the program that they run - we are part of the french. Unfortunately, the administrative staff are awful. They really could care less about the parents and their concerns, the lower schools admin staff is a joke, the principle at that school is clearly uncomfortable dealing with parents and in particular if the there is an issue. The worst part of it is you only have a voice with these people if you donate in excess of the gap. They don't seem to be concerned with the students, they seem to be concerned with the excessive amount they ask for as a donation. It is really a sad group of leadership. We will be pulling our children from the school in the coming year and plan to have them part of a new community which while still private does not revolve around the amounts of donation but instead on the volunteerism of the parents, eliminating the need for the excessive admin staff but also involving the whole family in the education of our children. Letting our children learn not just from excellent teachers, but from excellent parents who lead by an example. Not a popularity contest.
Unlike the prior reviewer, my experience with the school has been completely positive. When we investigated school choices for our children, ISTP was the most open and responsive one we looked at. The admissions department took a lot of time with us to explain the school's mission and approach to education. After we enrolled, as we had questions ranging from simple school day logistics to broader matters of curriculum, the teachers, staff and school leadership went out of their way to provide answers. The school is a great and unique institution. Its a rare combination of a warm, nurturing environment with a focus on rigorous academics. The school has an immersion, bi-lingual approach (French or Mandarin), but rather than just being a language school, it views its mission as teaching through language (rather than just teaching a language) and instilling a global mindset. Fluency in the chosen second language is an important outcome, but the philosophy also centers on the intellectual and cognitive benefit as children work hard to express themselves and solve problems in multiple languages. We've been very happy with ISTP and would recommend it strongly to other parents.
Both my children graduated from ISTP and received a first rate education. Not only are they bilingual, but they were very well prepared for a rigorous high school curriculum. ISTP has a close-knit and supportive community. The administration does an excellent job stewarding the school's resources.
We had a nice experience for our daughter in pre-k to Kindergarten at the school and then the ISTP summer camp until about 2009. However, the summer camp after 1st grade for French seemed to lack creativity and pedagogical expertise. Our son enjoyed the pre-K to Kindergarten summer camps but the new summer camp administrator seems to lack customer service skills. I found an unwillingness to admit errors and acknowledge parent concerns respectfully, which is unusual and not what one would expect for such an expensive school in a area where there's a lot of competition.
The good: The teachers, kids and parents at the school are great. However, the teachers get held back by the administration. For example, if a child in kindergarden asks the teacher to learn to read, the answer will be that they are not allowed to. On the lower campus there is a lot of tension between the teachers and the director. The administration takes decisions that are not in the interest of the children such as assigning teachers to classes they are not qualified to teach (For example: a nursery teacher assigned to a 1st grade class. It's a good thing the teacher was wise enough to refuse the position) Fundraising is in the center of school activities and the children are also solicited to get the parents to donate to the school. If you are looking for your children to learn a second language, it's a great school. The kids and parents are fantastic. But be prepared to battle with the administration.