Coordinator wants to share love of languages
Arizona Daily Star
May 9, 2009




School's goal: Help kids find their way in an international workplace, setting

By Loni Nannini

Tucson, Arizona | Published:

AshleyHaines, who grew up bilingual and in the evolving global community, is trying to ensure that Tucson children have that same opportunity.

"I grew up speaking Spanish, and I know it will be an advantage in life and in the job market," said Haines, 22 and a recent University of Arizona graduate. "The International School of Tucson is giving kids a great thing to be able to speak another language."

She is coordinator of the Third Annual Fundraiser for the International School of Tucson.

The centrally located private school, which opened in August 2005, offers an international program taught by an international faculty. The goal is to provide education and values for an international society through full language immersion that results in students who are bilingual and biliterate. Students can choose a course of study in French-English, German-English or Spanish-English. Currently the International School serves students from ages 3 to 10; an extra grade is being added each year.

Founder and Head of School Robert Young said the focus is less on achieving benchmarks and memorizing facts than on shaping future citizens prepared to live in a global society.

"We think it doesn't matter what the children study —whether it is cats, dogs, horses or whatever — what matters is the kind of people they are," Young said. "We are trying to teach general human values that cut across all cultures: appreciation, commitment, confidence, cooperation, creativity, curiosity, empathy, enthusiasm, independence, integrity, respect and tolerance."

The majority of the 104 students have at least one foreign parent. About one-third receive some form of financial assistance.

Young views the school as an important alternative to public, private and charter schools, and an economic asset in a competitive international market.

"If we want to keep local businesses that have international aspirations — we have companies here that export to Spain, Germany, Europe and other countries — then we need to offer an international education," he said.

Haines became involved with the school while pursuing her bachelor's degree in Spanish and communications. She exemplifies the diverse and dynamic group of volunteers, patrons and parents involved with the school, Young said. Haines said community service is an important part of education for every child and an important example to model as an adult.

"If everyone would do their part for the community as a whole, the world would be a better place," Haines said.

Contact Loni Nannini at