Frequently Asked Questions

Charter Schools

What is a Charter School?

A Charter school is a publicly-funded, tuition free school, that is independently-operated, and public (no admission requirements or exams).

Most Charter schools choose a focus that shapes their culture and provides a focus that drives the school forward.

At Tucson International Academy our focus has always been making college come true. We believe every child deserves the right to an education that helps them discover their potential and achieve their dreams. The “International” in our name speaks to our cultural and travel focus. We provide international travel experiences, and immerse our students in international culture because we believe these experiences are absolutely essential. They help mold that future and the desires each student strives to achieve.

Why Choose a Charter School?

Let’s start by explaining what a charter school is and what it isn’t.

Like a public school, charter schools are tuition-free and open to anyone (no admission requirements or exams). Charter schools can’t teach a religious curriculum or violate anyone’s civil rights.

Public schools must follow the Arizona Education Code. This is important because, in short, it means public schools have to rigidly follow an educational structure for all students, even though not all students learn the same way or at the same pace. Charter schools, by contrast, have the autonomy and flexibility to meet students on their level, to tailor their educational approach, and to work with families to seek the best for each individual student.

This same autonomy exists for a private school, but private schools are cost-prohibitive for many families, and may not align with religious beliefs.

A charter school is in so many ways the best of both worlds.

Why Choose TIA?

Choosing where your child will go to school is one of the most challenging decisions you can make as a parent. You want a place where your child is given every opportunity to succeed. But you also want a school that nurtures your child – a school filled with teachers and staff who care about who they are, and take the time to learn their needs. At TIA, we have small class sizes (14:1 student to teacher ratios), and believe there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to education. Every child is different, which means every child learns differently. We take the time to get to know your child and your family, and we put in the extra effort to help them achieve their dreams and ambitions. Not many schools can make that commitment.

TIA is also an incredibly safe school. So many of our students sadly come to us from a larger school where they experienced bullying. Because we strive to create a strong community (we truly are a family) our school is unlike any other. Our students look out for each other and they truly are incredible children. Come visit us! You’ll see how different we are from every other school your child has attended.

International Travel

Does every student travel internationally?

Every student at TIA has the opportunity to travel internationally through our International Educational Travel experiences. These are wonderful opportunities for students to learn more about other cultures. Students who travel internationally are required to pay for their travel, however, we provide numerous fundraising opportunities to make their travel possible. We believe in personal responsibility so while we do work with students to help them, they have to have the internal motivation and drive to help themselves. We like to say this – there is no student who truly wants to travel with us who is unable to do so (they just have to be willing).

What do International trips look like? Are they structured?

We travel using Educational Travel companies. These companies are solely focused on student trips (like ours) and are therefore highly educational. That’s the best part of these trips – the kids are learning so much, while having an incredible amount of fun!

Do you need chaperones for international trips?

Absolutely! Chaperoning is a great way to bond with your child while experiencing another culture. Because we travel through educational travel companies, it is also a wonderful way for you to learn history, and soak up a new culture!

What do the students who don’t travel do while the other students and teachers are traveling?

We structure our unit around the country/countries we visit. During our time abroad, we will connect with our schools and share what we are learning. Many teachers will do virtual field trips to the places we visit, or design class projects that explore culture and history of the country/countries. When our students return, they do presentations and talk about all the things they learned during their travel. We try, as much as possible, to help those students who stay behind feel involved and included in the experience.

Why is international travel so important to TIA?

Our most significant memories come from experiences – not textbooks. Think about any scientific experiment you’ve ever done. Reading about it – or even watching it – is not nearly as memorable as the time you made a volcano, or dissected a frog. These experiences not only deeply enrich a child’s understanding, but also give them confidence, a greater enthusiasm for learning, maturity in their approach to their studies, as well as empathy and respect for other cultures. These are all important life skills that will stay with a student for life. We are also firm believers in creating lifelong learners. We want our students to be curious, always. International travel sparks a curiosity in a person that remains forever.

Many of our families want better lives for their children – which is why they send them to TIA. They want their kids to go to college and to be more successful than they were. International travel shows a child what they can accomplish through hard work and dedication, because they so often must raise the funds themselves in order to travel.

All of these are critically important life lessons and we have seen the impact of these lessons over the past few decades since TIA was founded. There is a remarkable difference between the students who take advantage of these opportunities, and those who don’t. This is why we strongly encourage our students to travel with us, and provide every opportunity for them to make that possible.

Foreign Language Program

Why does TIA require students to learn Spanish and Mandarin Chinese?

There are countless studies which show the definitive benefits of learning languages, especially at a young age. We want our students to have every opportunity possible to succeed and be the person they want to be. We want to inspire world changers and develop individuals who are lifelong learners.

For the intellectual development of a child, learning a Latin based language with its complex grammar, like Spanish, sharpens the mind. Whereas a language like Chinese deepens the mind. Chinese is the language of the future, it is spoken all over Asia as the language of trade and is becoming important in the world of computers. If a child learns English, Spanish, and Chinese, he/she can communicate with 75% of the world!

Why should children learn a foreign language?

Knowing a foreign language is an asset for a young person in today’s global economy. It greatly enhances employability and broadens the scope of careers a young person can choose from. Aside from all these benefits in travel and communication, studying a foreign language furthers the intellectual development of your child. It deepens the understanding of the English language, broadens vocabulary, and enhances writing skills. Children learn to see the connections between languages and between cultures, which leads to a better understanding of history and current events.

Can a child learn more than one foreign language?

In many multi-ethnic countries (in Switzerland, for example), children grow up being schooled in more than two languages, whereby one language is always the native (first, official) language, and the other languages are taught as foreign language. Multilingualism is a reality for many children in the world today. The human brain is capable of handling the challenge.

My child is already bilingual, does it make sense to study one of the languages as a foreign language?

Even if a child is bilingual verbally, chances are that one language might get neglected when it comes to reading and writing. Correct spelling, grammar and usage, reading and writing are part of any sincere foreign language program, that any child can benefit from.

When is the best time for children to learn a foreign language?

Very small children have the ability to learn the language of their immediate environment in a very short time. However, they cannot retain a language if the environment changes. They will absorb a new language as fast as they forget the previous one. Only when they reach school age (usually at six years of age) is their brain capable of retaining a second language.

Until children reach adolescence, they are also capable of learning any language without accent; and with constant exposure they will become and remain bilingual. The ability to learn a language accent free disappears during adolescence. And even though a foreign language can still be acquired at any point later in life, it will be a much more painful and time consuming process. It is very difficult to become truly bilingual later in life.

The biology of the human brain dictates that the best time to acquire a foreign language is between the ages of six until the onset of adolescence.


Why does TIA focus on college for every student?

Though we recognize not every student wants to pursue a college education, we believe it is every student’s right to have the opportunity to go to college. We believe every child can learn, and every child can succeed because every child has been given a unique set of talents and skills. Their uniqueness is what makes them special, and it can and should be used to better themselves and our world. For many, college will be necessary to achieve their dreams. We focus not only on getting a student into college, but helping them access scholarships and take advantage of other financial resources so they can attend and graduate.

We can’t afford to pay for college, so it’s not totally important to us?

Most families can’t afford to pay modern tuition rates at most colleges. Thankfully, there are numerous options for students that truly do help make college affordable. Our staff are incredibly knowledgeable in accessing grants, scholarships, and other financial resources so every student who wants to go to college can.