What does an International Education truly mean?

From November 18th to November 22nd, schools across the United States will celebrate the International Education Week. This upcoming event had us reflect upon our connection to this and how we try to promote cultural and language exchange.

What is the International Education Week?

Let’s start with a bit of background. The International Education Week is an initiative from the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education, created to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. It is an annual celebration of cultural diversity and international opportunities.

International Education at Tessa

A truly international education is a combination of various factors. Here at Tessa we focus on three main criteria to prepare our students to become bilingual, adaptable and active citizens: Bilingualism, Interculturalism and Diversity.


Bilingualism is maybe the first element educating our students towards a better understanding of our globalized world. Several studies and researches indicate that bilingualism has many benefits on the brain and opens unique life opportunities.



The importance of intercultural communication and understanding is often underestimated. We tend to assume human beings behave similarly in given situations. The reality is that depending on our social background, family and country, we all have different customs, standards, social mores, and even thought patterns.

At Tessa, Interculturalism is at the heart of our curriculum, and we believe immersing our students in not only one but several different cultures is a key factor in their development. At Tessa, children are introduced to other languages and cultures as soon as 2 years old. Such an exposure enhances their cultural awareness; they quickly become bilingual and culturally adaptable.


What makes a cultural immersion possible at Tessa, is the amazing diversity among our team and families. It is a big part of our identity as a school, as well as a community and we take much pride in it.

Teachers get to share their country of origin traditions during celebrations or before holidays. We also love to welcome parents at school; they explain their own traditions to the students, how they celebrate it at home and what it means to their family. With its parade and various booths, our United Nations Day celebration was as well a mean to learn from each other.

We recently started mapping that diversity among our community and it simply looks amazing!

We believe that giving your children the gift of an international education will benefit all of us as they will have a lot to offer growing up.

Learning and Teaching at Tessa is a celebration

Learning and Teaching at Tessa is a celebration.

At Tessa, we celebrate each of our transdisciplinary themes.  It is a celebration to the Learning and Teaching of approaches to learning, inquiry, concepts, language and the learner. 

The transdisciplinary model inherently promotes student agency. It encourages the integration of many ways of knowing, and perspectives from all members of the learning community, to make sense of a world that has become “too big to know.”

Our transdisciplinary themes or units last for 8 to 9 weeks. Last Friday, November 1, we had our first End of Unit Celebration on “Who We Are” unit. Parents are invited to come and see the final projects of their child. The celebration is in respective classrooms and could be presented in a performance or documentation of what the student learned throughout the exploration of the central idea, lines of inquiries and key concepts. 

In each unit, teachers at Tessa incorporate the importance of approaches to learning skills. These are a set of skills that we use when we are involved in learning. They come grouped into five sets: Thinking, Social, Self-Management, Research and Communication skills. They naturally have growth mindset occurring within them, since they cover many different behaviors, self-control as well as thinking and communication strategies. 

In other words, the Learning and Teaching celebration invites the learning community and the learner to present a summative assessment of the essential skills, concepts of inquiry to show the progression of sub-skills. Some examples of sub-skills such as critical, creative thinking, listening, speaking, emotional intelligence and mindfulness. In each transdisciplinary theme, the learner gets to improve in all these skills in the wholeness of Learning and Teaching.  

PSPE at Tessa, a “Whole Child” education

Greetings from the land of PSPE & Yoga. I first want to state that this year has unfolded as a challenging yet fulfilling constant state of engagement.  Students are working in tandem with me to create consistent routines while building their hand/eye coordination, explore capabilities in knowing their bodies and what they are capable of, learning new content each class, threading consistent movement with the new and more difficult body exploration, connecting, and evolving daily. 
As an educator, the IB/PYP approach to movement and strengthening for students at every grade level is both a breath of fresh air and fascinating. Personal, Social & Physical Education (PSPE) spans the scope of what I have personally described as  “Whole Child” education. The breadth, scope & connection in terms of academic enrichment, the emotional child, the social environment provides both the educator (myslef) as well as the student (your precious child) a safe space to reach beyond limitation.

Though I work in movement with the students, there is a commitment to folding academic inquiry and grade level curriculum into our weekly practice. This perspective (from a physical education standpoint) is cutting edge, supportive, challenging and rewarding for creative minds.  It feels like a perfect fit for me here at Tessa as it is both conducive to my passion and wildly exciting for me personally.  
I am always willing to speak with parents about student challenges, gifts and growth throughout the year.  I wholeheartedly belive in this approach to teaching and learning.  Thank you for the opportunity to teach, learn and adapt to the needs of the “whole child” as the PSPE/Yoga teacher.

What to do When Your Child Is Being Bullied

What to do When Your Child Is Being Bullied

With the majority of schools today participating in at least some form of anti-bullying policies, most parents have been made aware of the movement to stomp out the aggressive behavior. While we may be more actively approaching bully behavior today, many may still be uncertain of what to do when your child is being bullied.

Classic Bullying Behavior

When we think of classic bullying behavior, we usually envision things like stolen lunch money or toys, bruises or other signs of fighting, or clothing being ripped or destroyed. These things are considered aggressive bullying and usually fairly easy to spot. Unfortunately, bullying goes unnoticed often times because it rarely fits into this category.

Less Obvious Bullying Behavior

Bullying is usually thought of as mean-spirited behavior that is manifested through physical and verbal means. The truth is, however, bullying behavior can take on many different forms – it isn’t always taunting, teasing, or physically fighting.

While it’s certainly true that scenarios involving pushing, picking, yelling, and teasing are examples of classic bully behavior, there are other, less obvious forms of bullying as well. Often times, kids can experience the effects of bullying by way of being ignored by their peers, being left out of games and functions, and even things like whispering, and note passing.

“More often than not… bullying is difficult to spot. Most kids don’t come home from school saying, ‘I’m being bullied every day by these three kids and I’m really scared and unhappy,’” explains PBS.org.

Are There Signs Your Child Is Being Bullied?

Knowing that the signs of bullying aren’t always easy to identify, one of the best things a parent can do to help their child is to know what behavior warrants anti-bullying tactics. This may seem easier said than done, but by understanding warning signs in your child, you can help stop bullying in its tracks.

So, just what are these warning signs? Similar to the signs of bullying, there are more obvious signs your child is being bullied, as well as less obvious signs. Paying attention to your child’s behavior versus what they are verbally communicating is key to getting through a rough time.

Most Obvious Signs

The most obvious signs a child is dealing with a bully at school (or on the bus, playground, or even neighborhood after hours) are usually physical signs. Aggressive bullying is often the culprit of these type of signs and can include things like a disheveled appearance when they should otherwise be presentable, physical scars and bruises or bleeding, and complaints of aches and pains with no rational explanation for them.

Since kids don’t usually tell you when they’ve had an altercation with another child, it’s usually up to the parents to pay attention to their physical appearance. This can also include their attitude – a sudden change in attitude that involves crankiness or irritability can often point toward a bullying scenario as well.

Less Obvious Signs

If your child isn’t coming home with bruises or torn clothing, but you still feel like something is “off” with them, don’t discount bullying yet. As we mentioned earlier, there are many forms bullying can take and, as such, there are many forms their reactions can take.

Some of the less obvious signs your child is dealing with a bully can include being withdrawn, a loss of interest in things they previously loved to do, and seeming sad or depressed upon coming home. Other signs to watch out for include a change in their appetite – usually a loss of interest in eating altogether, trouble sleeping (night terrors and bad dreams included), and frequent ailments like headaches or stomach aches.

Major Red Flags

There are a wide range of signs and symptoms of bullying – all of which need addressed as soon as possible – but some may require much more immediate attention. Depending upon the individual situation, children will handle a bullying experience in their own way; however, certain behaviors should always be taken seriously as soon as they surface.

If your child’s school performance begins to change – this is a huge red flag that something is off with them, usually relating to a person or situation at school. Other major red flags that should be addressed immediately include visible signs of fear or panic when they are faced with a task (anxiety over riding the bus or fear for going to class, for example), or any form of discussion involving loss of life or suicide. Noticing any of these behaviors warrants direct and swift attention by parents and teachers.

What to do When Your Child Is Being Bullied

If you’ve noticed your child experiencing any of the above-mentioned signs of being bullied, you’re likely wondering what you can do to help them put a stop to the situation. For a parent, watching their child go through a bullying situation can be one of the most heartbreaking and difficult things to witness. Often times parents wind up feeling helpless or can end up taking steps that may make things worse for their child by accident. So how do you know what to do?

In many cases, schools and other childhood educational and care facilities will have their own form of anti-bullying policies already in place. A look through their school handbook or a discussion with their direct-care professionals can help lead you on the right path for helping your child. Outside of this, there are certain things parents can do to ensure they are taking the right steps to combat their child’s bullying experience.

Anti-Bullying Behavior at Home

There are several things parents can do at home, outside of an anti-bullying policy at school, that will help children get through being bullied. For starters, the most important thing is for parents to be vigilant about monitoring their children’s behaviors so they can quickly spot any of the signs of bullying.

Other steps parents can take to be proactive about bullying:

  • Talk to your child: ask them how things are going, share with them what you’ve noticed and gauge their response.
  • Ask, don’t assume: we may be tempted to ask them what they did to warrant a certain behavior, this can lead them to believe the bullying is warranted.
  • Talk with others in their lives: speak with others who are near your child during the bullying situations and have them help determine a “safe” person they can go to when they feel bullied.

Overall, the best thing you can do for your child if you suspect they are the victim of bullying, is to be their ally. Know what to watch for, make sure you reiterate with them that you are always there, and equip them with the tools to overcome the situation by giving them a safe space or a safe person to go to when needed.

Tessa Goes Green

Though we all may come from different neighborhoods, cities, and even countries, there is one place that all of us call “home” – Earth! Now more than ever, citizens from around the world have been paying extra attention to taking care of our planet and reducing their carbon footprint. Here at Tessa, we are proud to have joined the cause. 

Tessa’s Efforts for a Cleaner Earth

The Tessa Team is thrilled to announce that we have implemented a recycling program for our students! This program allows students in each classroom to learn firsthand both the proper way to recycle and how recycling benefits the planet. 

If you take a look into our classrooms, you will now see a few different waste bins for different purposes. Our students are being taught to distribute their waste into these bins according to material (paper, plastic, aluminum, glass, compostable materials).  

But what about waste that is not traditionally recyclable? Thanks to Ms. Ana in Spanish Pre-K 3, Tessa is now participating in TerraCycle, a program that strives to eliminate the idea of waste. This program is funded by brands, manufacturers, and retailers around the world to help people recycle hard-to-recycle waste. As part of TerraCycle, here at Tessa, we’ve started collecting dental products such as toothpaste containers and floss and are working to add more products to the list!

 How You Can Help

We truly hope that the recycling efforts we are making at Tessa inspire our students and their families to continue these efforts outside of the classroom. If you are already doing your part to recycle at home, on behalf of the rest of the planet, thank you. If you are feeling inspired to start recycling, here are a few helpful tips to get you going: 

  • Reduce your waste! Use reusable coffee mugs and straws as often as you can. Some coffee shops will even give you a discount for bringing your own cup!
  • Be sure to check your refuse provider website. Sometimes things that we might think are recyclable aren’t. Also, often times, certain materials cannot be mixed together. If this happens, the entire collection of recyclables may just end up in a landfill.
  • Rinse food and liquid containers and remove any caps prior to recycling
  • Try to use glass in place of plastic as much as possible. Glass is almost infinitely recyclable!

United Nations Day at Tessa International School

          The United Nations is an intergovernmental organization that was created after World War II to strive to prevent new international conflicts in the future. The world celebrates United Nations day every October 24 to honor the international organization promoting human rights, social progress, and world peace.

          The UN was originally formed by 51 countries.  These countries work together to maintain peace, promote sustainable development, protect human rights, uphold international law and deliver humanitarian aid to people in need.  Today there are 195 member countries!

Image result for un sustainable development goals

The UN at Tessa

The United Nations are especially close to our hearts as our vision for the future is very much in sync with theirs: to contribute to building a peaceful, collaborative world, in which we all can learn from each other. Each year we celebrate with student performances in Spanish and French and other activities related to various countries of the world. Our students and teachers are dressed in national dress representing over 20 countries worldwide.

This event also contributes to raise awareness of human diversity among our students, but also in the city: this year, Mayor Bhalla, will address the assembly! We will also have a performance of Irish folk music / international music by the talented Shan and Dan.

A few facts about the UN

United Nation’s Four Main Goals:

The United Nation’s four main purposes are to:

  1. United Nations maintains worldwide peace and security.
  2. Developing good relations among nations.
  3. Encourage cooperation between nations to solve economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian international problems.
  4. Provide a forum to bring countries together to meet the purposes and goals of the UN.

How to Celebrate UN Day!

          To celebrate, we have to think about many years of history, struggle and achievements. Today is not just a day of looking back in history, it is a day to take note of what the UN is currently doing to build a better life for everyone on the planet, and how it plans to continue like this in the future. Let’s take a moment today to consider the incredible impact that the United Nations has had in every corner of the world for more than 70 years.

Here are some ideas to celebrate UN Day:

  • This day you can wear your national costume!
  • Discuss the importance of cultural diversity with your co-workers, friends or family.
  • Post about this day on social media along with your thoughts about this day.
  • Check out if there are any cultural activities taking place in your neighborhood and attend one.
  • Organize an international potluck to explore the traditional dishes of other cultures.
  • Recycle! The UN is very committed to protecting the environment.

Exploring the biological, chemical and physical aspects of our world with the Liberty Science Center

Good morning from your Liberty Science Center community partners! During this past week’s activities, we worked with your children to continue our exploration of who we are! We did this through investigating the pieces and parts that make up a robot’s body and comparing them with what we have ourselves. For example, we looked at how while robots have batteries, we have a heart. We looked at pictures of the heart according to age appropriate children’s story books and squeezed heart shaped stress balls to investigate how our heart moves inside our body. 

Our investigations eventually led us to noticing that sometimes we have things that robots do not have. We found that while we have teeth to help us eat nutritious food, robots do not have them! Using an extra large toothbrush, your children brushed the teeth of a model mouth to think about how we take care of these special parts of our bodies and how our teeth might look different amongst the members of our family. 

Here at Liberty Science Center, we are dedicated to inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers through the power, promise, and pure fun of science and technology. As we continue our third year together, we are excited to keep bringing STEM learning opportunities that not only align with the school’s program of inquiry but also encourage your children to see themselves as scientists and engineers. We look forward to seeing them again this week!

Curriculum Night at Tessa International School

Curriculum Night is an interactive information session hosted by schools all over the country a few weeks after children get back to school every year. It takes place at all levels, from early years to high schools; in public and private schools alike.

Typically, teachers make short presentations focusing on curriculum, routines, expectations, homework assignments and the concepts, skills, and knowledge that will be addressed and attended to during the year–all of which are crucial for a successful year ahead for your child.

A blend of best educational models at Tessa:

Tessa’s mission is to prepare children to be leaders of the 21st century and happy world citizens. At Tessa, we provide a world-class education, based on the most successful international models. This means that we blend French, Spanish, and New Jersey State Standards and combine them with a progressive educational model called the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Program (PYP). We are currently a candidate school for implementing the IB PYP starting from this month and we hope to get authorized by the end of the academic year 2020-21. The authorization journey is a rigorous process and a transformative experience for the entire learning and teaching community including parents.

The IB PYP is a curriculum framework designed for students aged 3 to 12 years. The PYP transdisciplinary framework focuses on the holistic development of the child as an inquirer–both at school and beyond. The PYP practice is informed by the latest research in how students learn, how educators teach, and the principles and practice of effective assessment. The program places a powerful emphasis on inquiry-based learning.

The International Baccalaureate aims to develop students into inquirers, thinkers, communicators, knowledgeable, principled, caring, open-minded, balanced and courageous learners. To this end, the IB works with schools, governments, and international organizations to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment.

Unique Language Immersion in Early Years at Tessa:                             

At Tessa, we offer a unique opportunity to our young learners to immerse themselves in either Spanish or French stream (and Mandarin starting in September 2021) all day long. Apart from immersing themselves either in their native language or a new language, children are provided with opportunities to explore their environment and learn about their world through play and relationships with peers, teachers, family and community members.  The IB believes that young learners are intelligent, resourceful and creative individuals who grow, develop and learn at different rates. At Tessa, we aim to make it a holistic learning experience that integrates social-emotional, physical and cognitive development in a dynamic environment that promotes play, discovery and exploration.

Dual language Immersion in the PYP at Tessa:

It is believed that all learners stand to benefit from dual language immersion. Starting from Grade 1, native French or Spanish speakers maintain and develop their first language while acquiring native like linguistic skills in English language or vice versa. Besides language acquisition, children inquire and learn math, content areas (social studies, science) and specialist subjects such as visual arts, music, technology and P.E. through inquiry-based learning. Children will learn to take responsibility for their learning and construct their own understanding in a variety of content areas and strive to become life long learners.

What to Expect on the Curriculum Night at Tessa:

  • Meet the school leadership team including the founder, the Head and the Deputy Head of the school and the program coordinators.
  • Meet your child’s teacher in the classroom to gain an insight into what and how your child will be learning this year. Get a glimpse of the daily schedule, routines, and curriculum expectations for the year
  • Get familiar with your child’s learning environment. This is an opportunity for you to sit in your child’s seat literally as the presentation tends to be in your child’s homeroom. You’ll get a feel for their learning environment.
  • If you are interested in volunteering, please sign up to become a class parent.

Padmaja Naidu
PYP Coordinator
Tessa International School

At Tessa, It’s Safety First!

As parents, you take all the extra steps necessary to ensure your child is safe and healthy. High standards for classroom safety and cleanliness are reassurance that your child’s well-being is our top priority. Every child will experience the usual bumps, bruises, sniffles and sneezes from time to time. But keeping these to a minimum should be the goal. An important question you may ask is “How does your staff make safety and cleanliness a top priority for your students?” Tessa International School would like to share with you our objectives toward safety and security.

Security Features and Initiatives

  • Mr. Dan and Ms. Rotana are now regularly greeting families at the front door.
  • A double-entry door is planned behind the front door and architectural drawings are underway.
    • A second door will require parents to buzz in twice and will act as a buffer so that no person may directly enter the school without first being authorized.
  • Hoboken Police Officer Lieutenant Melissa Gigante will soon be visiting the school for a safety survey (and visit to Grade 1!).
  • The Monroe Center now has an armed guard present in the main space of the Monroe Center.
  • Tessa staff members have recently taken a CPR/FA course for certification to ensure we are properly trained in up-to-date emergency procedures.
  • Tessa has continued the Safety and Security Committee. Committee Head Alissa Reeves in conjunction with committee members Maria Cintron and Yoa Meikle are reviewing current safety procedures to denote methods of improvement.
    • Child Allergy/Medication Notes
    • First Aid/CPR responses
    • Procedures for teaching children to recognize and develop appropriate responses for emergency situations (e.g.,.- Dial 911, universal sign for choking, stranger danger, safe play with peers, attentiveness to social-emotional learning)
    • Emergency phone numbers posted in each classroom and at front desk.

Preparation and Drills (Continuing)

  • Monthly Fire Drills.
    • Fire drills are announced through our Amazon Echo Dots. Teachers gather the children and exit by the side door and congregate at one of three locations: The corner of Panello pizzeria, the front of the park on Jackson and 7th, or Hoboken Catholic Academy (inside the gym for Indoor Evacuations).
    • Dan Buck, Head of School, times the drill and collects the count of students from the teachers.
  • Lockdown Drills.
    • Lockdown drills are practiced at least twice per year.
    • Lockdown drills are communicated to staff by the Head of School. Doors are closed and locked, shades are drawn, quiet activity engaged and emergency escape routes planned.

Tips for Parents

  • Don’t forget to check Brightwheel for notices about your child and classroom. Did you know you can update your Contact Information in your child’s profile? Please check your child’s Brightwheel page to verify Emergency Contacts and Approved Pickups.
  • Practice safety and emergency procedures with your child at home.
  • Inform Alissa Reeves of any changes in your Contacts.
  • Make sure that your Universal Health form, allergy information, and flu shots are all up-to-date at the front desk.

Thank you for helping keep Tessa International School a safe and secure space for your child’s education and development.

-Alissa Reeves

Why Learn a Second (or Third) Language at Tessa?

The first question: Why learn a second (or third language)?

In the world, bilingualism is more the norm than the exception, as 75% of the world is actually bilingual (Baker, 2000) and it is on the rise. With more and more people relocating to foreign countries it is very common to have two or more languages spoken within a home.

The second question: When to learn a second language?

There is no “correct” age to learn a foreign language, as Edinburgh University researchers point out that “millions of people across the world acquire their second language later in life: in school, university, or work, or through migration or marriage.”  Knowing another language is advantageous, regardless of when you learn it. Even more encouraging is that bilingual benefits still hold for those of us who do not learn our second languages as children. However, the earlier one starts, the more beneficial it is to learn a second language. As a matter of fact,  babies can differentiate all the sounds of language before 10 -12 months, then they start to lose this capacity according to the sounds they find useful (their own language). Therefore, it’s good to expose babies to many different languages so they retain this ability.

The third question: What are the advantages of learning a second language?

1.Access to a larger world: When you learn a language you also learn the culture. Being able to speak two languages means you are able to speak to people in a different cultural and linguistic contexts. Bilinguals can use the right language with the social codes that go with the language. In other words you are able to step into another culture and better understand the subtleties of the human condition.

2.Better ability to focus : Bilinguals find it easier to focus and can avoid distractions (Dr. Judy Willis, 2012). Indeed, the part of the brain called the executive function, which is used for staying focused has proven to be stronger in bilinguals. Every time a bilingual speaks, both languages are actually active, and the brain has to work to suppress one language while the other is being used. That mechanism employs the executive function of the brain more regularly in bilinguals, which makes it become more efficient.

3.Better at multitasking : Studies have shown that people who are bilingual are better at tasks that require multitasking and focusing attention than monolinguals. Brain scans show that these bilinguals show more gray matter in the regions of their brain that are involved in executive function. The hypothesis is that the effort to constantly choose the right language at the right time provides a “mental gymnastics” for bilinguals which gives them extra practice in focusing their attention. Research even shows that learning a language helps delay Alzheimer’s disease (Dr. Ellen Bialystok).

4. Higher standardized tests and academic performance: Another one of the many benefits of learning a second language at an early age is improved test scores. Students who study foreign languages perform better on standardized tests such as the American College Test (ACT) and the SAT verbal sections. In fact, students test scores improve with the length of time they have spent learning a second language. Exercising one’s brain leads to improved planning, problem-solving, and concentrating. This brain exercise leads to improved planning, problem-solving, concentrating, and multitasking, as well as divergent and creative thinking.

5.Linguistic facilities: Being bilingual helps you learn another language. As you are constantly switching from one language to another you become accustomed to expressing yourself in a different way. Moreover, you have been exposed to two sets of sound patterns rather than one. This gives you more chances to encounter known sounds in the new language. All this combined makes learning an additional language easier.

6.Deep understanding of the concept of “language”: Bilinguals have a deeper appreciation of what is a language. They know that there is more than one way to label a word and that a word can have different connotations. As Professor Clyne says: “They [Bilinguals] have a better sense of the arbitrary nature of words, and the difference between form and meaning.”

7.Lifetime benefits:  Learn a foreign language as a child and you have a lifetime to benefit from cross-cultural friendships, broader career opportunities, exciting travel adventures and deeper insights into how others see the world.

So, to answer the question: why learn a second (or third) language at Tessa? Tessa International School, a thriving international school in Hoboken, NJ, teaches through the languages of Spanish and French in the IB-PYP model, starting at the age of 2.5. And in 2020-2021 Tessa will be offering a Mandarin track as well! Bilingualism. Excellence. Happiness. That’s the Tessa Advantage.