International School of Denver

International School of Denver

Serves students age 3 to grade 8
Denver, CO
A video featuring the school

Program Description

The International School of Denver (ISDenver) is a private multicultural, multilingual school, founded in 1977. The school welcomes children from age 3 through grade 8 into an inclusive, globally minded community.

ISDenver’s mission: Our inclusive, globally minded community develops highly motivated and academically successful bilingual learners. Students are interculturally adept and make positive contributions in a complex world. Our approach uniquely combines French, Spanish, and Chinese immersion education with an interdisciplinary International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme in middle school. The Chinese program was added in 2003 and is supported by the Hanban Confucius Institute. The Confucius Institute provides the school with professional development opportunities for teachers, instructional materials, Chinese teaching assistants, technology, and additional resources. All of the teachers in the Chinese program are native Chinese speakers.

From the time a student starts at ISDenver until graduation (pre-K through grade 8), approximately 60% of their educational time is spent in language immersion. Children spend nearly 90% of their day learning in Chinese in in pre-K (K1–K2) and Kindergarten (K3), with English lessons progressively added until grades 3-5, where learning evens out to approximately 50/50 between English and Chinese. In the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (MYP) for grades 6-8, students who choose to continue their Chinese studies (or start at the Novice level) spend as much as 30% of their time engaged in language acquisition, both in classes focused on language learning and in Social Studies classes taught in Chinese. MYP students also have the opportunity to add a third language to their studies, which opens the door for students in the other immersion programs (French and Spanish) to learn Chinese as well. Currently, 170 students are in the Chinese program in pre-K–grade 5, with an additional 20 studying Chinese in our Middle School at both novice and Advanced levels, and 15 Chinese instructors.

ISDenver values both language and cultural immersion. All students in the Chinese program participate in the annual Chinese New Year Festival, which includes a dragon parade, lion dances, and class-wide performances showcasing their advanced learning skills. The school is also proud to be a sponsor of Colorado's Annual Dragon Film Festival and has previously been a partner in Colorado's Dragon Boat Festival. We celebrate being a thriving international community with a variety of cultural events throughout the year, enriching our students’ and families’ experiences and honoring our diversity. 5th grade students enrolled in the Chinese program travel to China with our faculty for two weeks each year. During this time, they learn history at Tiananmen Square, visit the Great Wall of China, visit Chinese schools and engage with the students, and navigate the country using their advanced language skills. All 8th graders in the Spanish program spend ten days in Costa Rica as part of their International Baccalaureate service learning capstone project each spring. Students in the Chinese program may elect to participate in the YCT (Youth Chinese Test) for grades 1–4 or the HSK (Chinese Proficiency Test) for grades 5–8, which are tests administered by Hanban to gauge the level of Mandarin language proficiency of foreign learners of the language. The school also offers test preparation courses for the YCT and HSK and is an official testing site for Hanban.

Program Highlights

Students in pre-K through grade 5 learn in their immersion language of Spanish, French, or Chinese, often developing into fluent speakers by grade 5. Students engage across all subjects and disciplines, in all four language domains of listening, speaking, reading, and writing in both their immersion language and English. In grades 6–8, students learn through the International Baccalaureate®Middle Years Programme, an interdisciplinary, project-based learning
program with a focus on global context and impact. Grading is based on MYP (Middle Years Programme) assessment standards.


  • In order to assess students in grades 3–8 in mathematics and reading, the school uses MAP® (Measure of Academic Performance) testing. Results from recent MAP testing have demonstrated that students at ISDenver outperform their peers in the United States, and internationally, in both reading and mathematics. In grade 8 for the past three years, on average, 88% of the students exceeded grade-level expectations in math, and 90% exceeded grade-level expectations in reading.
  • Graduates continue their education at private and public schools, locally and throughout the United States. One hundred percent of graduates have been admitted to one of their top two school choices. When in high school, 85% of ISDenver graduates enroll in Honors Mathematics.

Other highlights include:

  • Challenging and rigorous academic curricula and assessments
  • Project-based learning units, where students are taught to think critically and creatively
  • An extensive library and media center featuring books in Chinese and opportunities to engage in research projects
  • Data-driven and differentiated instruction (MAP and AVANT testing)
  • Technology-equipped classrooms
  • A variety of culturally rich after-school programs, including extracurricular activities, such as outdoor education, athletics, STEAM clubs, additional language studies, and a variety of summer camps, including ones in Chinese, for children ages 3–14

Program Contacts

Kyra Gailis
Deputy Head of School and Director of Learning
(303) 340-3647

Bob Carignan
Head of School
(303) 340-3647