Founder Dr. Jennifer Herrera has a love for travel and culture. This love of culture influenced the focus of Tucson International Academy when it was founded, and continues to influence TIA today. We bring culture to our students in three ways:

How we celebrate culture at TIA

“International travel opens up an entirely new world for students. It broadens their understanding and also gives them a lot of motivation to seek a better future for themselves.” – Dr. J

International Travel

When the kids return home with enthusiastic stories and pictures of an incredible time abroad, teachers and parents see the immediate impact the experience has had. However, the most significant and enduring effects may not be obvious until later. The students tackle challenges with enhanced confidence, greater enthusiasm, maturity in their approach to their studies, and a demonstration of deeper sensitivity to other people.

When a prep school like TIA says it brings the world to its students and brings its students to the world, we are not kidding! TIA has organized trips for students to travel to London, Paris, Japan, China, Spain, Peru, Australia, France, and many other amazing places.

Though not every student is able to travel with us, our teachers write their curriculum around the places we choose to visit for that unit so that every student has the opportunity to experience the culture and learn more about the countries we visit.

To read our travel logs, click here.

Foreign Language Program

We celebrate culture throughout the year through our unique language program. We are one of very few schools that offer Spanish and Mandarin Chinese to all students, grades K-12.

Children who study foreign language at a young age show:

  • Sharpened communication skills, including memory and listening skills
  • Increased SAT scores
  • Improved self-concept
  • Greater academic achievement

Chinese Program

Chinese is taught to all age groups. We offer formal Chinese lessons and Chinese center times, combining language instruction with cultural activities such as music, art, and field trips led by a fluent Chinese-speaking certified teacher.

We focus on basic conversation, including character writing. The older children learn how to read simple stories and write more characters. As part of an academic program, they are also introduced to Chinese history and modern China. In 2014, our students got to participate in our second trip to China and toured Beijing and Shanghai.

Spanish Program

Since 2002 we’ve had our Spanish program active and growing. We are offering Spanish-centered sessions several times a week on different levels of proficiency as well as bi-weekly formal instruction given by a native Spanish-speaking certified teacher. Language instruction is tied to cultural activities, including story telling, speaking, reading, and writing. In 2004, 15 faculty and students took a 1 day “friendship tour” to Mexico.

In 2007 and 2016, faculty and students went on a tour of Spain and Morocco.

Our language program isn’t just a part of who we are, it is central to who we are. To learn more about our language program, click here.

Cultural Festivals and Celebrations

Festivals and celebrations are integral to understanding a culture. They are rooted in the past and hold deep significance in the cultures they represent. Here are some of the festivals and celebrations we participate in every year:

Chinese New Year

These celebrations began over 4,000 years ago and the festivals last 15-23 days! At TIA, our celebration lasts just one day and includes student performances, where they get to practice their mandarin skills by singing, rapping, and reciting poetry in Mandarin Chinese!

Click here to see a past performance.

Cinco de Mayo

Traditional Mexican dances, poetry recitations, homemade Mexican food and just a whole lot of celebrating… that is a perfect way to sum up our annual Cinco de Mayo celebration! Cinco de Mayo is central to Mexican culture and so many of our families get deeply involved in making this celebration special for our whole community.

Cultural Day

Our beloved annual tradition – always celebrated the Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving. This memorable day began just over 10 years ago at the Midvale location. It was so beloved, we adopted it as a district and every year it continues to grow.

Each student selects a culture to study, oftentimes determined by their own nationality or family heritage. Our schools turn into a cultural smorgasbord of flavors and experiences as students provide food and present projects so we can all experience the wonder of other places and people.


Christmas caroling, student presentations, food, activities, and fun for the whole family! Winterfest is a highlight and something our families look forward to every year. Activities often include: balloon pop, ring toss, photo booth, and a school favorite… a pie throwing contest (where the principal’s face is a target)! This night is all about fun and building community.

We always post pictures of our festivals and celebrations on social media! Like and follow us on Facebook or Instagram to stay up to date!