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International School

025 SW Sherman St
Portland, OR 97201

(503) 226-2496


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The International School provides a warm multicultural environment where children are fully immersed in Spanish, Japanese or Chinese language and culture. Children become fluent in another language, at home in other cultures, and engaged in math, science, social studies and arts.

The International School is Portland’s first International Baccalaureate elementary school. It was founded in 1990 and today educates over 460 students from age 3 through 5th grade.

Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

From the Director:

With the inquiry-based International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme, the teacher introduces lessons that integrate concepts from math, science, social studies, literacy and arts. The children ask questions and the teachers guide them to find answers to their questions. Through this concept-driven process, students learn the skills needed to acquire, organize, and communicate knowledge. This enables them to become independent learners, capable of pursuing knowledge beyond the classroom and throughout life.

Curriculum & Teaching Approach

Learning Philosophy & Tools

  Play- based mostly teacher led not formally in curriculum conducive environment
Language       more

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  • A well-stocked bookcase
Oral language  
Nursery rhymes, poems, songs  
Storybook reading  
Emerging literacy skills  
Cognitive development
Math & number sense more

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  • Puzzles
Time & space more

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  • Calendars and clocks
  • Parquetry blocks, pegboards, and mosaic toys
  • Maps
  • Building blocks
Sci. reasoning/physical world more

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  • A place for science activities such as growing plants
Music more

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  • Musical instruments
Visual arts more

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  • Materials such as paint, ink, paintbrushes, crayons, markers, chalk, paper, etc.
  • Art work on the walls
Physical activity more

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  • A playground with climbing equipment
  • Bean bags, balls, and other objects that children can throw, kick, and play
Other subjects taught

From the Director:

All of these areas are taught in Chinese, Spanish or Japanese in a full immersion approach. It's amazing to watch how easily young children understand the chosen language!

Quality of Teaching

Individualized Teaching: From the Director

Classes are small and preschool classes have assistant teachers. These two factors allow teachers to work with each student.

Day in the Life

General School Mission

With true immersion in Spanish, Chinese or Japanese, children become fluent in another language, at home in other cultures, and engaged in math, science, social studies and arts. And with our authorized International Baccalaureate inquiry-based program, students learn to acquire, organize, and communicate knowledge – skills for lifelong learning and success. PreK through 5th grade.

A Typical Day

At TIS, school days are designed to blend a balance of routine so the children feel at home and know what to expect, and variety to keep the children stimulated and learning.

School officially begins at 8:15, though students are welcome in their classrooms and encouraged to arrive at 8am. Between 8 and 8:30 the children have free play and can choose to explore learning centers with minimal direction.

8:30 to noon
Each grade studies various International Baccalaureate thematic units centered around real-life concepts in science, math, social studies and the arts. Throughout the morning, students explore different aspects of their IB theme with a combination of group learning and hands-on activities.

Activities are designed to work on language acquisition, fine motor skills, math, writing, and social/emotional development. The students also learn about the theme itself, but our focus on the skills and the process of learning provides a critical foundation for their future.

Group activities might include hearing and discussing a story, exploring materials the teacher has brought, playing a game with words or letters, or practicing a dance from the teacher’s country.

Learning centers are used for individual or small group work, and might include creating artwork that explores the IB theme, hands-on math or science experiments, language activities, or writing letters or characters. The atmosphere is a happy mix of chatter and concentration, as teachers move around to support individual students.

Between activities, the children have morning snack (provided by the school or brought from home), and generally outside recess time as well.

Mornings are also time for art, PE and music specialists, school library visits, and of course play time in the preschool playground.

Once per week each preschool and kinder class has three 45 minute specialist periods: one for art, one for music and one for physical education.

(Grades 1-5 at TIS have art, music and PE either once per week or three times every two weeks.)

Half day students leave at noon.

Between noon and 12:45pm – lunch and outside play
Children eat and socialize with one another and with their teachers.

12:45pm – nap or quiet time
Our three- and four-year-old students nap for about an hour and a half. Kindergarten students have 30 minutes of nap or quiet time (less as the year goes on and the children don’t need it as much).

Approximately 2:00pm to 3:15pm
After nap there is another set of learning activities, where the students explore concepts related to their IB theme, math, literacy, or teacher’s culture. This could be time for hands-on, small group or whole class activities. Once again between activities, there is another snack.

Wow, end of the day already?

Home-School Connection

Home-School Connection: From the Director

We communicate with parents in many ways, including: weekly on-line & e-mail school-wide news bulletin, weekly e-mails from teacher to all class parents, one-on-one snippets with teachers at pick-up and drop-off times, formally scheduled individual parent/teacher conferences, parent conferences any time on request, "drop in" or make an appt with any administrator at any time, report cards 3x per year, curriculum night in September, PTO meetings bi-monthly, all-community newsletter 3x per year.

Parents Say They are Encouraged to:

  • Sit on the board of trustees
  • Hold social events at the school to build community
  • Fundraise
  • Are required to make donations ourselves
  • Are able to visit the school anytime we want
  • Go on field trips
  • Volunteer in the classroom
  • Receive newsletters

Modes of Communication

  • Notes
  • Phone Calls
  • Voice Mail
  • Email
  • Special Meetings
  • Two or More Regular Conferences
  • Drop-Off
  • Pick-Up
  • Regular newsletter/printed updates circulated to the whole school


Separation is Handled through:

  • Extra staff dedicated to handle separation

Handling Separation: From the Director

Our classes are small through all grades. Preschool and kinder classes have assistant teachers to help.