YOUNG LEARNERS WITH A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE

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Rising Star Private Elementary School

“We uphold the spirit and ideals of the United Nations Charter really well,” said Dr. Judith Honor, principal of the United Nations International School campus in Queens. “This school is about diversity—of both people and cultures,” she added.
The United Nations International School, or UNIS, was founded in 1947 exclusively for United Nations’ families, but no longer requires that students have a U.N. affiliation. Families are attracted to the school, Honor said, because they seek cultural diversity and a challenging curriculum that will prepare their children for rigorous high school programs. The school’s main campus for grades kindergarten through 12 is in Manhattan.
UNIS Queens, tucked into a neighborhood in Jamaica Estates, has a total enrollment of 180 in kindergarten through 8th grade. Annual tuition is $21,000 and up 30 percent of the tuition can be covered by financial aid. There is one class at each grade level, and the school has an average class size of about 20. The faculty includes teachers from Egypt, France, Ireland, Great Britain, Canada and Algeria.
Three-quarters of the student body at UNIS Queens is drawn from international and American families. Only one-quarter of the school’s families retain an association with the United Nations. The school’s program is designed to accommodate non-English speaking students, although its global curriculum is taught in English. UNIS Queens pupils study history from a global perspective, which includes the history of both the United States and the United Nations. Honor said that students are encouraged to bring their different belief systems, knowledge and experiences to the classroom.
“We really like the international feel of the school,” said Theresa Moran, who became head of the school’s parent association this fall. Her two older children are graduates of the school, and she presently has a 2nd and 3rd grader at UNIS Queens. “It’s a very small school,” Moran said, “with only about 100 families. There’s a feeling of closeness.”
Moran said that one of the highlights of the UNIS Queens school year is the annual United Nations celebration, held in Manhattan. Both UNIS campuses participate in an international luncheon and a musical concert performed by students, who dress to represent their native countries.
“We love students who don’t speak English as their first language,” Honor said. In kindergarten through 6th grade, all students study either French or Spanish, but in 7th and 8th grades, they study both. Mother tongue instruction is available for students who come to the school already fluent in French or Spanish. In the after school program, both Chinese and Arabic are also offered.
UNIS Queens has computers in all classrooms, as well as a computer lab, an art studio, a science lab, a music room, a 12,000-volume library and a gym. About half of its graduates go on to pursue their International Baccalaureate degree in high school at the UNIS Manhattan campus. The remaining half continue their education at schools such as Stuyvesant High School, Bronx High School of Science, Brooklyn Technical High School, LaGuardia School for the Performing Arts, Townsend Harris High School and Horace Mann School.
Laura Manarel learned about UNIS Queens through other families when she began to look for an elementary school for her son, Max, four years ago. The warmth and multicultural atmosphere of the UNIS Queens appealed to her. Max started in kindergarten and is now in 3rd grade.
“The school is very open to parents,” Manarel said, “it’s the most open of any school I’ve ever seen anywhere.” She is also pleased with the school’s highly individualized instruction, and for the opportunities it offers as a result of its association with the United Nations.
Last fall, Max and his 2nd grade UNIS Queens classmates joined their UNIS Manhattan peers for a special event. The children helped celebrate the launch of  Sesame Street’s Panwapa website, designed to foster global citizenship.
“Max goes to the website all the time now,” Manarel said, “and talks with kids all over the world.”


United Nations International School, Queens
175-53 Croydon Rd.
Jamaica Estates, N.Y. 11432
718-658-6166
www.unis.org
Dr. Judith Honor, Principal

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