Consulting with John Stanford International School

by Michele Anciaux Aoki, Ph.D.

In 1997, I was invited by Karen Kodama, then principal at TOPS K-8 school in Seattle, to be part of the planning group for the first international school in Seattle. Karen had been hand-picked by Superintendent John Stanford to take his vision of a place where all children were learning languages and learning about each other's cultures and turn it into a real school. I participated in a number of initial planning meetings before being hired by Karen in January of 2000 to consult with the school on developing and launching the international school and their language immersion program. Here is a summary and timeline of the work I have completed for the school.

Jump to:  Planning | Launching | Developing Partnerships | Expanding |
Evaluating | ELLOPA | Publications

Planning the School

I was a volunteer member of the Planning and Outreach committees for the school, beginning in 1999. I recorded and disseminated summaries of the meetings in order to keep the rather disparate group of teachers, professors, and community members engaged. If

Here are links to Meeting Notes:

Feb. 22, 1999 Meeting Notes
Mar. 15, 1999 Meeting Notes
(District commitment and Visibility)
Mar. 29, 1999 Meeting Notes
(Plans for website)
Apr. 5, 1999 Meeting Notes
(Business survey, Marketing, Outreach)
Apr. 19, 1999 Meeting Notes
(Outreach at Ethnic Heritage Council)
May 10, 1999 Meeting Notes
(Plans to meet with Marilyn Hawkins about creating school brand)
May 23, 1999 Marketing Meeting Notes
(Main marketing message and audiences)
May 24, 1999 Meeting Notes
(Communications plan and public awareness)
June 28, 1999 Meeting Notes
(Business survey results (top languages now: Spanish & Japanese; in 10 years: Mandarin; Landor Branding Consultants; Fundraising)
July 26, 1999 Committee Notes
(Brochure by Landor)
Sep. 2, 1999 PR Meeting Notes
(Website, Fundraising, PR, etc.)
Oct. 4, 1999 Meeting Notes
(Partnership Action Team)
Oct. 7, 1999 Marketing Meeting Notes
(Website topics)
Oct. 12, 1999 Meeting Notes
(Website structure)
Nov. 1, 1999 Meeting Notes
(Adoption of new Social Studies Curriculum, Fundraising, PR, etc.)
Nov. 22, 1999 Port Ludlow Retreat
(UW Partnership; School, Family, Community Partnerships; World Language Standards)
Nov. 29, 1999 Meeting Notes
(Updates, Starting Points Survey)
Nov. 30, 1999 National Standards for Foreign Language
(The 5 "C's" - Communication, Culture, Connections, Comparisons, Communities)
Dec. 6, 1999 Meeting Notes
(Culture notes, Starting Points survey)
Dec. 9, 1999 Ground Breaking Ceremony
(Highlights of the ceremony at Latona School)
Jan. 19, 2000 Marketing Meeting Notes
(Options for non-profit status)
Feb. 28, 2000 Meeting Notes
(Partnership updates; Michele's visits to DC area immersion programs)
Apr. 17, 2000 Meeting Notes
(Adoption of Tahoma Social Studies Curriculum, Report on Primary Years Program, TESOL Conference)
Apr. 17, 2000 Notes on the Primary Years Programme Planner:
(Organizing Themes and Stages of the Planner)


Launching the School

My work as a paid consultant to the school began in January, 2000.

January, 2000

I completed on-site visits to two elementary, dual language immersion programs in Virginia and Maryland, meeting with the principals and teachers, visiting classrooms, reviewing curriculum, and talking with their staff about our plans for John Stanford International School. I completed reports based on questions generated by Karen and her teachers:

Decision Point:  Karen and the staff decided to implement a partial immersion model (half-day Spanish and half-day English), with separation of languages (Spanish taught by Spanish-only teacher), focusing on Math and Science as the content areas taught in Spanish.

Note: we discussed the desirability of offering a dual or two-way immersion program (with 50% Spanish native speakers), but because of the District's Assignment Plan, we were not allowed to offer preferential assignment to the school to Spanish native speakers. Our hope, by co-locating the Bilingual Orientation Center at the school, was that some native speakers from the BOC might transition into the partial immersion program when spots opened in the upper grades.

March - June, 2000

In March, 2000, we set up the World Languages Planning Team, including representatives from John Stanford and the University of Washington. I coordinated the meetings and sent out communications. My focus was on ensuring that the immersion program would be standards-based. In addition, I worked with the Spanish teacher to plan how to develop appropriate Math and Science curriculum for the immersion program.

August, 2000

The highlight of the summer was a four-day "Language Immersion Boot Camp" presented by Regla Armengol, a teacher-of-the-year from Virginia who taught in a partial immersion program in Fairfax County and also worked with native Spanish speaking students on literacy in Spanish after school. I coordinated and planned the workshop with Regla, then took extensive notes so that we would be able to share the learning in future years. While we began the workshop developing a strong theoretical understanding of language acquisition, we ended with concrete nuts-and-bolts, like how to create a letter home to parents.

September, 2000

During the first weeks of school, I developed a number of tools to help teachers communicate well with parents about the expectations of the program. See, for example:


Developing Partnerships

Early on in the planning stages, I recommended to Karen that the school join the National Network of Partnership Schools (the first Seattle school to do so). In August, 2000, I presented a one-day workshop on Action Teams for School, Family, Community Partnerships to launch the school's Action Team. The Action Team used data from its Starting Points Survey (carried out the previous spring) to identify top priority areas to work on in the school.

For an overview on School-Family-Community Partnerships, see:

Throughout the first year -- and continuing to this day -- the Action Team for School, Family, Community Partnerships has focused on helping the school succeed in its mission of connecting all of its families in meaningful ways to the school and developing full support from the business community.


Expanding the Program to Japanese

During winter, 2001, Karen hired me to coordinate the interview process for a Japanese immersion teacher. That process led to hiring of Mihoko Tsang, who proved to be an outstanding teacher.


Evaluating the Program

My contract with John Stanford International School continued throughout the first year as I helped the school evaluate the program.

September, 2000 - June, 2001

An important part of implementing a new program, such as the Spanish language partial immersion program, is to evaluate how it is going. Throughout the first year of the program, we took steps to reflect on the results of the program and the experiences of the people involved. More important, we used these reflections to guide us in what to do to improve the program.

The program evaluation includes both qualitative and quantitative aspects. Qualitative elements include looking at attitudes and experiences, for example, through questions at parent and staff meetings, and responses to surveys and questionnaires. Quantitative elements include looking at student achievement in Math and Science, as demonstrated by classroom work and assessments (tests). To evaluate how much Spanish language the children have acquired each year, we conducted special oral language interviews with the help of experts in assessing early language learning from CAL (Center for Applied Linguistics) in Washington, DC.

The links below will help you trace our progress in evaluating the Language Immersion Program. (The documents below are in PDF format which allows you to view them electronically on most computers. The freely available Adobe Acrobat reader is required to view and print PDF files.)


Family Questionnaire #1 distributed fall, 2000 (TIF)
Parent Meeting October 10, 2000
Portfolio Planning with Dr. Stephen Kerr
Concerns from Staff Meeting December 22, 2000
Language and Math meeting with Regla Armengol January 18, 2001
Observations from Regla Armengol January 19, 2001
Program Evaluation Outline - January 23, 2001
Concerns from Staff Meeting Dec 22, 2000:
January 31, 2001 milestones
Program Evaluation Planning - February 5, 2001
Program Evaluation Planning - February 6, 2001
Program Evaluation Planning - July 26, 2001
Concerns from Staff Meeting Dec 22, 2000:
March 31, 2001 milestones
Concerns from Staff Meeting Dec 22, 2000:
May 31, 2001 milestones


Early Language Listening & Oral Proficiency Assessment (ELLOPA)

I arranged for the first formal language proficiency assessment at the school in spring, 2001, by a team from the Center for Applied Linguistics. The following spring, I developed a one-day overview workshop for teachers (and instructional assistants and several UW grad students) with Dr. Manka Varghese at the UW. I then arranged for the CAL trainer to spend two days working directly with the teachers (and IAs), coaching them on their interviewing and rating skills.

In 2003, I again conducted training sessions for the teachers. (In 2004 and 2005, the teachers were able to arrange their own peer training.) Each year, I have coordinated the data collection and statistical analysis and reporting.

For a summary of results from the first two years of assessment, see:

Note: I expect to make data from the 2005 assessments available soon, after the teachers at the school have had a chance to review the results.


Publications about John Stanford International School

I have published (with Sue Ranney) two articles about John Stanford International School and Hamilton International Middle School in New Horizons for Learning (  

  • John Stanford International School in Seattle
    An article in New Horizons for Learning spring, 2001 that describes the immersion program launched at John Stanford International School in fall, 2000.
  • International Public Schools in Seattle
    An article in New Horizons for Learning spring, 2004 that describes the evolution of the Seattle international public schools and current status of language immersion in Spanish and Japanese at John Stanford International School.


  2005 Anciaux International Communication
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