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:
Communicating with people from different cultures is a core component of a TVS education. Below is an outline of our World Languages offerings:
Kindergarten – 4th: Spanish and Mandarin Chinese (both are required)
5th: One semester of Spanish and one of Chinese
6th: Spanish or Mandarin Chinese
7th – 8th: Latin (required) and Spanish or Mandarin
9th – 12th: Spanish I-AP, Chinese I-AP, French I-AP, or Latin II-AP
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, 9th- to 12th-grade French classes celebrate Mardi Gras as part of class!
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.
First 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.
Second 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 one-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 Education has also led lessons in the Lower School on “School in Japan” and “The Ocean after the Great Tohoku Earthquake of Japan,” and has read stories to students in Japanese and talked about languages.
During African American History month, 5th grade Music classes include units on African and African American music (including rhythms, instruments, and dance). Sixth graders also “tour the world” of music from Ghana, Japan, China, Korea, Iran, Egypt, Jamaica, Mexico…
Fifth graders take an Ancient Civilizations course that focuses on hands-on learning about—mainly—ancient India, Mesopotamia, China, Egypt, Greece and Rome.
Sixth graders take a Global Studies class that further develops their geography skills and promotes discussion of 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.
Eighth-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 Education has led 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 experienced the following:
- learned about (and celebrated) Mexican Independence Day;
- watched a live Skype of the “St. Nikolaus parade” in Salzburg;
- listened to music from the Andes Mountains;
- studied about mariachi, Latin American love songs and poems for Valentine’s, and Easter traditions from Sevilla, Spain; and
- had cooking lessons with traditional ingredients from Mexico and Spain.
In addition to course offerings such as World Languages, World History, Modern Asian History, Religion in Culture, Global Leadership, Service Learning, Social Justice, 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.
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.
Global friendships start here.