ISA overview

At the International School, any student may apply, with the freshman class each year selected by lottery, producing a diverse student body. Students are immersed in a collaborative, relationship-driven environment where all students are provided with an honors level curriculum and the extra academic support required to succeed at this challenge. The learning is interdisciplinary with an emphasis placed upon a real world application of the skills and content. All students participate in international travel, community service, a career-exploration internship, and a final portfolio assessment of their learning at the conclusion of their senior year. It is a dynamic learning environment that also serves as a professional development school for Trinity University, mentoring new teachers into the teaching profession. Ted Sizer, the founder of the Coalition of Essential Schools and a leader in the small school movement, described the International School as “one of the best high schools in the country” after his visit to the school in 2000.        

Relationships, Reflection, Relevance

Relationships are at the heart of the school’s identity. Intentional communities of learners are formed through academic teaming, project-based learning, cross-grade level advisories, and international travel. Parents are included through travel, field trips, report card nights, and Parent Forums. Partnerships include Trinity University where faculty develops deep relationships with intern teachers, students benefit from committed interns, and all grow through opportunities provided by the university. Other partnerships include the World Affairs Council (luncheons with world leaders), the City of San Antonio and International Affairs (support for Model United Nations), local museums (academic preparation for travel), and sister schools in Latin America, Japan, and Europe.

Reflection is central to staff development through reflective writing, Critical Friends Groups, book studies, professional presentations, and mentoring of interns.  Students assess their learning strengths and challenges, write reflectively, and create annual and cumulative portfolios. Parents and community evaluate ISA, serve as project and travel assessors, and meet with advisors/teachers about students.  ISA honors the power in experiencing learning then reflecting on it to deepen its meaning.

Relevance is a major tenet of the school. Teachers utilize cutting-edge pedagogy, weaving state standards into meaningful, interdisciplinary units whose authentic assessments link learning to the “real world.” International travel for all students paired with career-exploration internships and community service ask students to take learning beyond the classroom. Overall, engagement with and ownership of the school by students, staff, and families creates an empowered community that shapes our school’s identity and creates a relevant form of high school education.