“What I appreciate about Internationals is the holistic approach to the student. We don’t place instruction in one box and a student’s personal issues in another box. We take care of students as one whole person. Similarly, at Internationals, there is no division of responsibility of teaching a student English and teaching him or her subject content. We use the whole language approach and everyone is responsible for teaching language as well as content.”
–Lee Pan, Former Principal of International High School at LaGuardia Community College.
At International high schools, a badge of prestige replaces the “stigma” of immigrant status for students, families, and faculty. It is understood that near native fluency in English and proficiency in a second language are valuable resources when it comes to achieving professional and social success in the United States and the global economy and participating fully in democratic society. Within our network, every teacher is a language teacher as well as a teacher of academic content and skills. The educational process takes place in a heterogeneous, learner-centered, collaborative, and activity-based environment. Students are organized in diverse clusters that work with the same team of teachers over 1-2 years. Classes are mixed according to age, grade, academic ability, prior schooling, native language, and linguistic proficiency. They are interdisciplinary and rigorous, and the curriculum includes literature, social studies, math, science, the arts, technology, and physical education.
An evolving, innovative academic program combined with a holistic approach to education is key to the Internationals’ core philosophy. Our schools are close-knit, nurturing communities that support students who may be feeling displaced as newcomers to our country. Differences among students and faculty are cherished, and students are continually encouraged to celebrate their cultural and linguistic individuality while embracing their new home.
The Internationals’ pedagogical approach to educating English language learners is based upon 5 Core Principles:
- Heterogeneity and collaboration : schools and classrooms are heterogeneous and collaborative structures that build on the strengths of each member of the school community to optimize learning
- Experiential learning : expansion of the 21st century schools beyond the four walls of the building motivates adolescents and enhances their capacity to successfully participate in modern society
- Language and content integration : strong language skills develop most effectively in context and emerge most naturally in a purposeful, language-rich, interdisciplinary, and experiential program
- Localized autonomy and responsibility : linking autonomy and responsibility at every level within a learning community allows all members to contribute to their fullest potential
- One learning model for all : every member of our school community experiences the same learning model, maximizing an environment of mutual academic support. Thus all members of our school community work in diverse, collaborative groups on hands-on projects; put another way, the model for adult learning and student learning mirror each other.