Frequently Asked Questions
- What sets the the International Academy of New York apart from other schools in New York City?
We think we’re different for many reasons, but here are the top three that most inspire our pride. First is our sincere commitment to a diverse and multi-cultural school community. Next, we dedicate roughly 40% of the instructional week to language acquisition in Spanish or Mandarin. Our language teachers, as well as our art and music teachers, are native speakers of those languages. Last is the care that we take of our students, the ways in which we get to know and nurture them. We’d be happy to connect you with current parents who can corroborate this.
- Does the school follow any particular pedagogy?
The simple answer here is “no.” We believe that the best teachers are able to draw upon a range of methodologies and strategies in order to individualize lessons as much as possible. In this regard, there are moments in every day, in every classroom which might look progressive, traditional, Montessori, Reggio… you should expect to see a real variety.
- How is the language instruction delivered?
Roughly 40% of the students’ week is spent functioning in either Spanish or Mandarin. This includes formal language classes, as well as art (three times a week for one hour) and music (daily for 30 minutes). In addition, the language, art, and music teachers speak almost entirely in the target language to their students whenever they interact with them in less formal settings. There’s a great deal of language spoken at recess, in the hallways, and at lunchtime.
- How do I decide which language to pursue?
It’s a very personal decision, and each family usually has a strong reason for their choice. For some, it’s a way to keep the language spoken at home “alive” during the school days. For others, it’s just the opposite; they may already speak Spanish or Mandarin at home, and they’re eager for their child to learn a third language. Most Academy students speak English as their primary language, and their parents make choices based on interest in a particular culture or what they perceive will be a highly useful language in their child’s future.
- What is the teacher : student ratio?
It ranges, depending on subject, but is seldom more than 1:8. More often, it’s in the 1:4 or 5 range, and some language classes are as low as 1:2.
- What grades are covered at the Academy?
In 2017-18, we will have classes in Nursery (aged 3) through Grade 2. We intend to expand each year with our “senior class” and will ultimately go through grade 8. In 2018-19, we will also offer a Pre-Nursery for children who have turned 2 by September 1.
- What do you look for in teachers?
First and foremost, we look for people who wake up every day wanting to be with children. We look for teachers who have deep respect for working in a multi-cultural community. We want teachers well-versed in a wide range of theory and practice. Most of our teachers have advanced degrees in early childhood or in their area of expertise in the curriculum. All have come from outstanding classroom experiences before joining the Academy’s faculty. Our head of school sees the hiring process as one of the most important of her responsibilities.
- What opportunities do the children have to be outdoors?
This is a priority at the Academy. All children have a daily morning recess which takes place on our rooftop playground unless weather prohibits it. Nursery students also have a recess after lunch each day. In PreK-Grade 2, they have a physical education class three times a week, which happens in Central Park as much as possible. We believe fervently in children’s need to move, to play, and to breathe in fresh air as much as possible.
- How do you use the cultural offerings of the city as a supplement to the classroom?
The Academy’s relationship with Central Park and the neighboring museums creates an invaluable extension of our classrooms. Going to the park or visiting an exhibit isn’t just a field trip for our students; they are places in which they routinely have classes. It’s not uncommon to hear our young musicians rehearsing in the park, to see our physical education classes taking full advantage of the meadows and play spaces, and to find even our youngest students expanding a theme or unit of study at The Met, The Guggenheim, The Cooper Hewitt, or The Jewish Museum.
- Do you have a lunch program?
We provide daily snacks and a healthy, appealing lunch each day. We see lunch as another classroom-- a place where we talk about nutrition, food sources, and how to take care of our bodies. We also work to expose children to a range of foods in order to expand their palettes and to develop an appreciation for a variety of dishes.
- What are the hours of the school day?
We begin instruction promptly at 8:30, and the day concludes at 3:30. Nursery students have the option of going home before lunch at 11:45 if they enroll in a half-day program.
- Are there after-school activities?
The Academy runs its own extended day program from 3:30-5:00 for an extra fee. A range of activities is offered throughout the year and will be published on the school’s website and through parent communications. Soccer, art, and music classes are consistently offered throughout the year.
- Do the students wear uniforms?
They do, as a way to create an even greater sense of community and because parents seem to love the ease of a standard uniform. The uniforms are purchased through Lands' End, which we’ve found makes durable clothing at reasonable prices.
- What are ways in which parents can get involved?
Parents are frequent volunteers in our library, where their work makes a significant difference in the shelving and cataloging of our collection. They often go to museums or performances with their child’s class, and returning parents are paired with new parents to be another source of information. The Academy parent body is a warm and friendly group of dedicated families who often create social activities for children and adults throughout the year.
- Is there a relationship between the former New York International School, which was located at 4 East 90th Street, and the International Academy of New York?
There is no relationship between the schools, beyond the leadership of our Head of School, Shelley Borror Jackson. Ms. Jackson, who was the founding Head of The New York International School, partnered with a new board, eager to continue the curriculum and ethos she started at The New York International School. The curriculum, much of the faculty and staff, as well as the current location remain the same.
- Are you a non-profit school?
Yes, the Academy is a 501(c)(3) entity.
- Will the school stay at 4 East 90th Street?
The school will remain at this location for the 2017-18 school year while the trustees seek a permanent location for the Academy’s future.