International School of the Peninsula

International School of the Peninsula (ISTP)

Serves students in grades pre-K–8

The video below highlights ISTP's vision for its students.

Program Description

The International School of the Peninsula (ISTP) is an independent school in the heart of the Silicon Valley in Palo Alto, California, which offers rigorous, dynamic bilingual programs in Mandarin Chinese and French to students from preschool through 8th grade.

ISTP began as a French-American school in 1979, and since then has been accredited by the French Ministry of Education, the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS), and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). ISTP serves nearly 600 students on two campuses in Palo Alto, just minutes from Stanford University and a short drive from San Francisco and San Jose.

ISTP became a truly international school in 1996, when it added its Chinese program, now one of the longest-running Mandarin immersion programs in the United States. In 2015, ISTP received a seven-year accreditation from CAIS, citing the school's "union between rigorous academics, collaboration, concepts, knowledge, and creativity; talented, highly-qualified teachers who inspire students; and reflective, collaborative, and forward-thinking" orientation and culture. In 2016, the school will celebrate 20 years of Chinese classes.

ISTP's approach is to nearly fully immerse students in Chinese in the early years (nursery, pre-kindergarten, and kindergarten) and then transition to a more balanced program in the elementary school years. The school serves a diverse international community of learners and strives to balance the traditions of Chinese and French education with the vitality, creativity, and innovation of Silicon Valley. The school maintains a wide range of dynamic connections to both Asia and Europe and to the broader global community.

Program Highlights

In addition to Chinese and English, all students at ISTP learn computer coding as a "third language" and are guided through a rigorous, yet dynamic curriculum in both languages that is structured around five Learning Standards that define the skills to be acquired by successful ISTP graduates who are "Curious, Creative, Collaborative, Confident, and Independent." Computer coding is combined with art, music, and a variety of hands-on activities that stimulate the students' design thinking in the school's brand new Maker Space.

The curriculum is developed collaboratively by classroom teachers and three Chinese Curriculum Coordinators—one each for the Early Years, Elementary School, and Middle School divisions—and their English and French counterparts. As part of the school's ongoing mission to carefully align the French and Chinese curricula and to create a consistent graduate profile for students in both programs, ISTP is starting the process to become an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School.

ISTP's Chinese program is unique in fostering connections for students to a global Chinese community. The school has robust partnerships with schools in Hangzhou, Shanghai, Chengdu, and several cities in Taiwan. ISTP students participate in experiential learning programs in China for two weeks during their 4th grade year and for two weeks in Taiwan during their 5th grade year. Students in the school's International Middle School participate in a boarding program with a school in Chengdu, Sichuan province.

In 2014, ISTP established a cooperative partnership with East China Normal University (ECNU) in Shanghai to train graduate students in the Institute for Global Chinese Language Education through a teaching internship program. ISTP teachers train and mentor these graduate students in the classroom, while ISTP administrators guide them in their research and in the completion of their masters thesis.

ISTP has been one of a small consortium of schools nationwide piloting a pioneering and innovative system for building students' Chinese literacy through the creation of leveled readers and accompanying assessments, modeled on best practices from elementary school English classrooms. In grades 6 through 8, students in the Chinese program complete rigorous courses in advanced Chinese history and literature and are taught the history of China with a global, multicultural, and dynamic view.

ISTP graduates matriculate to the finest high schools in the Silicon Valley and greater Bay Area and attend the best colleges and universities in North America, Europe, and Asia.

Program Contact

Christopher Livaccari
Elementary School Principal and Chinese Program Director

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