Trinity Valley School’s founder, Mr. Stephen Seleny, developed our school with the goal of educating young Texans with a European-influenced system. He wanted the students to see the world through lenses different than their own. Our curriculum, K-12, maintains that focus, and the Global Initiatives Program has enabled us to develop it further.
TVS Educators are always creating new ways to help their students learn about different parts of the world. Below are a few highlights (but there are many, many more examples from everyday lessons).
Click on links below or scroll down to learn more:
World LanguagesKindergarten – 4th
Communicating with people from different cultures is a core component of a TVS education. Below is an outline of our World Languages offerings:
: Spanish and Mandarin Chinese (both are required)5th
: One semester of Spanish and one of Chinese6th:
Mandarin Chinese 7th – 8th: Latin (required) and Spanish or Mandarin9th – 12th
: Spanish I-AP, Chinese I-AP, French I-AP, or
Beginning in 9th grade, students may have the option of taking other languages through Virtual High School—a rigorous online program with which we are closely connected. All Upper School students are required to take at least 3 years of the same language for graduation (exceeding the state requirements).
Every year, 9-12th grade French classes celebrate Mardi Gras as part of class!
Lower School Examples
Kindergarteners take “trips” to the United Kingdom (click here to see previous Virtual Exchanges that enhanced those lessons), France, Japan, and other parts of the globe.
1st graders learn about a number of religious holidays (e.g., Eid al Fitr, Chanukkah, Los Posadas, Kwanzaa…) as a way of experiencing other cultures and traditions. Students also learn basic greetings in different languages and use maps to begin exploring our world’s linguistic and geographic diversity.
2nd graders spend weeks learning about their own heritage with stories from their family and ancestors, sharing of family/international recipes, and other activities that help the students connect with their own multicultural identities. Students also relate to various cultures while reading and discussing Pourquoi Tales.
Language classes engage students in the cultures of Mexico, Spain, and China by including activities and performances in which students use language, performance, and creative thinking skills.
In 2013, Music classes celebrated “December Around the World” in a 1-hour performance that included all grades (K-4). Students sang songs in Japanese, Danish, and German, and performances and costumes represented our school’s international diversity.
Our Director of Global Initiatives has also led lessons in the Lower School on “School in Japan”, “The ocean after the Great Tohoku Earthquake of Japan”, and he has read stories to students in Japanese and talked about languages.
Middle School Examples
During African American History month, 5th grade Music classes include units on African and African American music (including rhythms, instruments, and dance). 6th graders also “tour the world” of music from Ghana, Japan, China, Korea, Iran, Egypt, Jamaica, Mexico…
5th graders take an Ancient Civilizations course that focuses on hands-on learning about—mainly—ancient India, Mesopotamia, China, Egypt, Greece and Rome.
6th graders take a Global Studies class that further develops their geography skills and gets them discussing a variety of contemporary global issues. One sample activity addressed the benefits and drawbacks of outsourcing jobs to countries such as India and China. Different groups took on different perspectives, such as workers, companies, or universities, from both the United States and India or China, and they had to debate from that standpoint. See also the Virtual Exchanges page to learn more about how this course connects our students to people around the world.
8th grade English, History, and Humanities classes have been learning together with students at St. George’s School for Girls in Edinburgh, Scotland every year since 2011. See also the Virtual Exchanges page to learn more about how this course connects our students to people around the world.
For several years our Director of Global Initiatives has lead 8th grade History and Humanities classes in lessons the WWII's Pacific Front and about Japan’s current constitution.
World Languages classes integrate lessons on cultures in addition to language acquisition. As an example, 7th grade Spanish classes learned about (and celebrated) Mexican Independence Day, they watched a live Skype of the “St. Nikolaus parade” in Salzburg, they listened to music from the Andes Mountains, and they studied about mariachi, Latin American long songs and poems for Valentines, Easter traditions from Sevilla, Spain, and had cooking lessons with traditional ingredients from Mexico and Spain.
Upper School Examples
In addition to course offerings such as World Languages, Human Geography, World History, Asian History, Religion in Culture, Global Leadership, 20th Century Conflicts, AP Art History, and AP European History, many teachers include lessons and units that encourage students to see themselves as belonging to something greater than themselves (i.e., North America, the Western Hemisphere, the World, the Universe). A few examples include:
In the 9th grade history course “In Search of Humanity”, students discuss throughout the semester the “story of our shared past”. Students are expected to make connections with distant histories and distant lands as they address issues of humanity throughout the ages. Our Director of Global Initiatives has led classes on ancient and medieval Japan and China, including discussions of Confucianism and Daoism—two philosophies that remain relevant in contemporary Chinese society.
9th grade biology students discuss important global issues, such as nutrition, infectious disease, ecology, natural resources, and the origin and spread of HIV/AIDS. In 2012, our Director of Global Initiatives spoke to biology students about the effects of culture on reproduction, using China and Japan as contrasting examples. See also the Virtual Exchanges page to learn more.
9th grade English students spend a unit discussing identity, including classes led by our Director of Global Initiatives which introduced students to Japanese notions of identity as they read and discuss a short story by a Japanese author.
Creative Writing students have studied Athol Fugard’s apartheid-era masterpiece Master Harold and the Boys, which allowed students to learn both about playwriting and this important historical event in South Africa.
Drama students have learned about ancient Japanese theater styles Noh and Kabuki by reading a Noh play, practicing the “Noh walk”, and watching video clips by Japanese performers, and Art students discussed Japanese woodblock print art with our Director of Global Initiatives.
Additionally, students may request permission to take other courses with a global perspective through our connection with the Virtual High School.
TVS Educators are constantly adapting their syllabi and lessons to expose our students to different cultures and to invite students to explore on their own others’ perspectives on life and learning.
Think about it.
Talk about it.