Verona Area International School (VAIS)
Verona Area International School
Verona Area School District, Wisconsin
Verona Area International School (VAIS) is a public charter school within the Verona Area School District, serving a little over 110 students in Kindergarten grade 5. Our staff of 7 classroom teachers, along with 25 additional staff members, allows our school to run efficiently.
VAIS is governed by a council of parents, staff, and community members. This group makes high-level decisions concerning the day-to-day operations of VAIS. Functions of the Governance Council include, but are not limited to, budget allocations, capital expenditures, grant proposals, personnel, curriculum, assessments, VAIS policies and procedures, committee responsibilities, and the goals and future of VAIS.
The mission of VAIS is to educate global citizens: to prepare children for the demands and responsibilities of global citizenship by providing the knowledge, skills, and experience needed to move naturally between different languages and cultures.
At VAIS, all kindergarten through fifth grade students spend half of their day learning in English and the other half learning in Chinese. Our curriculum follows a thematic unit approach, thus the core content is taught through a common theme that is integrated across languages and subjects. In addition, our English teachers collaborate with our Chinese teachers to coordinate lesson plans and ensure that essential vocabulary is taught in both languages.
Chinese Language Arts
Developed for the young learner with no prior exposure to Chinese, Better Chinese: My First Chinese Words is our language arts curriculum. This curriculum allows teachers to focus on subject areas relevant to students’ everyday lives, which makes learning fun. Teachers also use Level Chinese to incorporate a Chinese-guided leveled reading system.
VAIS uses Math Expressions as its math curriculum. Combining aspects of the most teaching methods with the best of traditional approaches, Math Expressions uses objects, drawings, conceptual language, and real-world situations to help students build mathematical ideas that make sense to them. Through daily "Math Talk," Math Expressions builds a community of learners with frequent opportunities to explain their mathematical thinking and thereby develop their understanding.
VAIS uses Mystery Science as its science curriculum, a hands-on program aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards. Mystery Science is based on the concept that a child’s questions should guide his or her investigations, which will lead to the development of scientific thinking. Each Mystery is aligned to a topic, performance expectations, science and engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas, and crosscutting concepts.
English Language Arts
The reading framework that VAIS follows is Daily 5. Daily 5 is a literacy structure that teaches independence and gives children the skills needed to create a lifetime love of reading and writing. It consists of ﬁve tasks that are introduced individually.
- Read to self
- Read to someone
- Listen to reading
- Work on writing
- Word work
At VAIS each child has reading goals and strategies speciﬁc to his/her individual needs and, therefore, receives individualized instruction needed to move forward and become a successful reader.
Students are engaged in an environment that promotes global citizenship. Learning an eastern language and culture that is so very different from western American language and culture provides a natural gateway for students to look beyond their community and truly appreciate a global perspective.
We follow a unique approach to Related Arts instruction. Students engage in “Global Arts” classes, where students explore a combination of music, art, and/or PE instruction with a focus on the global community. VAIS students are exposed to a variety of internationally-influenced related arts and offered an opportunity to explore them in greater depth. Some themes that students have explored include: Plays and Folk Tales across the Globe, Media and Advertising, Sports around the World, Global Architecture, and World Clothing and Textiles. Among other things, students put on plays, perform at Chinese New Year celebrations, and play games that are popular in other countries.
VAIS Visitors and Travels
VAIS partners with Wuhan Chongren Road Elementary School in Wuhan, China. This annual connection allows our students to develop the confidence and cultural empathy necessary to be global citizens. We have welcomed students from Wuhan into our homes and our school, and our school sent over 50 students and their parents to Wuhan in March, 2019, for an amazing trip of a lifetime. Many of our students had the confidence and social skills to complete a homestay.
Social Emotional Learning
Nurturing the whole child is an important part of our progressive philosophy. In the early grades, we help our students develop a positive sense of self-identity and belonging. We continue in the upper grades by providing lessons that focus on specific topics including empathy, emotion management, problem solving, child protection, and bullying prevention.
VAIS staff engage in professional development regularly, including attending conferences, such as Wisconsin Association for Foreign Language Teachers, and workshops, such as the OPI Assessment Workshop at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
VAIS, and VAIS students, have received the following awards:
- VAIS was the Recipient of the 2017 Donna Clementi award from the Wisconsin Association for Foreign Language Teachers (WAFLT).
- In 2018, several students received the Excellence in Chinese Learning Award from WAFLT in recognition of their outstanding participation in and commitment and dedication to Chinese language learning.
- In 2019, our 5th grade students received the Pathways to Biliteracy Certificate, indicating their progression toward the Wisconsin Seal of Biliteracy.
Ann Princl, Principal