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Community Spotlight Series - The International School of Americas (ISA)

The International School of Americas (ISA) is a magnet school for grades 9-12, founded on research recommending a small, intimate school environment with high standards for student and faculty achievement, which has worked for over 20 years to provide students with a new, more personal take on education. In this pursuit, they have worked to encourage global citizenship and social agency among their students. These efforts have seen them win many awards including a Silver Medalist School for U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best High Schools” list.

ISA places a focus upon creating global citizens and educators take an innovative approach to learning with an emphasis on engaging students through a multicultural curriculum. Teachers and staff prioritize learning from a global perspective rather than a US-centric worldview, offering hands-on experiences such as travel excursions, internship opportunities, and community service activities.

The value the school places on cultivating students to become impactful global citizens has been a key component of the partnership between the International School of the Americas and the San Antonio Council for International Visitors (SACIV). Over the past few years, ISA has collaborated with SACIV to host dozens of educators, information technology leaders, journalists, and other professionals from around the globe, including Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. The faculty, staff, and students have warmly welcomed many International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) participants to their campus, providing them with countless meaningful opportunities to interact with American youth and discuss relevant issues such as civic mindedness, community engagement, and accountability in media.

In 2016, students found meeting with a delegation from Kazakhstan, who traveled to San Antonio as part of the IVLP initiative on “American Youth: Inspiring Leadership & Civic Participation”, particularly meaningful. ISA leadership welcomed these visitors to campus to share with them about the school’s unique curriculum, which heavily emphasizes social awareness, civic education, and student community service. The visitors found these efforts in myriad forms extremely impressive and especially valued the opportunity to meet with students to further discuss the impact these projects had had on them. In turn, the students also enjoyed being able to speak to these young leaders from Central Asia, a region of the world they were eager to learn more about.

More recently, in September of 2019, a group of information technology leaders from Europe, met with ISA representatives for another successful exchange. Both students and participants had profound conversations about four main topics: government, IT, journalism, and law enforcement. Students were divided into smaller groups and had a chance to rotate around the classroom, allowing them to speak with each visitor individually. ISA faculty, students, and IVLP participants cited that the opportunity was a truly fruitful learning experience.

The mutually beneficial nature of these two-way exchanges was noted by Mr. Steve Magadance, Principal of ISA, who stated that “Our experience with SACIV has been really fun and interesting because we have been able to provide our students with the opportunity to visit with international guests. We hope to continue to have international exchange experiences with SACIV!”

Similarly, Ruth Gonzalez, a visitor from Paraguay who visited ISA while in San Antonio during the summer of 2018, remarked that “the meeting with the International School of the Americas was something I’ll never forget . . . I am an educator and meeting with other teachers and hearing what works for them gave me a perspective on what I can do in my classroom. Furthermore, getting to know students and seeing what their passion is was a beautiful experience as well.”

As the US Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program recognizes its 80th anniversary, it is clear that the global connections the program creates has a significant impact on our local community, as well as abroad. The San Antonio Council for International Visitors aims to create productive dialogues on a global scale, but this can only be achieved with help from our inspiring community resources such as the International School of Americas. As ISA continues to foster global citizens, we look forward to continuing our partnership!

Stay tuned for next week’s post as we continue to recognize our valuable community partners and highlight their commitment to connecting with our international visitors, building lasting relationships and creating positive change around the world.

If you would like to learn more about the International School of Americas, please visit the ISA website.

Fun fact: SACIV’s very own Cecilia Cross, Executive Director, is an alumna of ISA, graduating in 2008! In fact, Mr. Magadance was her then economics teacher during her Senior year. Cecilia’s growth towards global stewardship, which has manifested throughout her academic and professional career, is a testament to the success of ISA’s international pedagogy and unique educational environment.

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