International Academy of New York Emphasizes Bilingual Education

Name of school: International Academy of New York

Grades: Preschool-8

Size of student body: 21

Educational approach or philosophy: At the International Academy, the mission is to raise young adults who possess the skills, confidence, and compassion to contribute and thrive anywhere in the world.  To deliver on this promise, the school’s main focus is on all aspects of English literacy (reading, writing, public speaking); skilled and creative mathematical competence; proficiency, and in many cases, fluency, in Spanish or Mandarin; confident and creative artistic expression; interdisciplinary connections in science and social studies; healthy, physically fit bodies, and unwavering attention to kind and respectful treatment of others. “I consider one of my most important jobs is that of hiring our teachers. I make sure to hire exceptional teachers who are skilled in a range of pedagogy and methodology in order to address students’ personal learning styles and developmental needs,” says Shelly Borror Jackson, Head of School. “‘Balance’ is an important concept at the International Academy. Students play and work, respond globally and locally, and learn how to actively listen and actively respond. There is no cookie-cutter teaching method that applies to all children, and we embrace that idea, giving individual attention to each child. Our teachers know when one child is ready to move on in a task, and when another may need a little bit more time, and they are able to cater to those needs,” says Emily Benson, Director of Admissions.  

What makes the school unique: The International Academy is a multi-cultural and diverse community. The school’s bilingual program is also point of pride, says Jackson.  Students as young as two years old spend 40% of their school week functioning in Spanish or Mandarin, depending on which language their parents have chosen. That bloc of time is divided between language classes, daily music classes conducted in the target language, and. by pre-kindergarten, three hours of art in Spanish or Mandarin. Once a week students eat lunch at tables where only the target language is spoken, and a weekly Language Morning Meeting brings each group of language learners into a multi-age setting where younger students are inspired by the older students’ expertise. All teachers involved with language instruction are exceptional teachers who also spoke Mandarin or Spanish as their first language, a feature that the school’s head is determined to maintain. Jackson also maintains that the level at which children are known and cared for at the Academy is unique, sharing that, “We know every child, their parents, and in many cases, their grandparents. We know who’s about to lose a tooth and what kind of chapter book that first grader will love most.  We know which child is ready to move on to whatever should come next, and we know who deserves more time to fully engage with a concept or skill.” She goes on to say, “We’re not afraid to use the word ‘love’ about our students or our work.”

“Love of learning is an expression thrown around a lot in schools, but I really believe that’s what’s happening here. I am also a parent at IANY; my son is in kindergarten this year,” says Benson. “The other day his homeroom teacher told me that that while they were learning some math concepts, my son said, ‘Oh wow, my brain is hurting from this. But that’s good because I know I’m really learning something!’ As a parent, I couldn’t ask for much more than that in terms of my child’s education. I think many parents worry that their children may be discouraged by enormous amounts of homework, or may feel lost in a big classroom, or simply not connect with their fellow classmates, their teachers, or to the material being taught. We can all agree that these things can be poisonous to a child’s education and his/her happiness. I see firsthand that my son — and all of the children here — are happy to come to school, excited to learn, and feel totally comfortable with their teachers, and with our head of school who has an open door policy.” 


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