Located one mile south of the United Nations in Manhattan, on a site overlooking the East River, United Nations International School (UNIS) is exceptionally diverse, inclusive, and culturally rich. In fact, no other school in the world can boast of having students from over 100 countries, speaking more than 90 mother tongues, and a faculty representing over 50 nationalities. Multiculturalism and multilingualism truly define the UNIS experience. “Our Modern Languages Department has over 60 faculty members who teach 9 languages schoolwide. The robust program starts in Junior School (elementary school), and we also offer mother tongue and foreign language curriculum. Our students are offered far more than a solid grounding in classic and contemporary academic disciplines,” says Dr. Jennifer Amos, Chief Academic Officer of UNIS.
UNIS was founded in 1947 to serve the educational needs of children of United Nations staff and diplomats and others who wished for their children to have an international education. “Today, seventy-five years later, with 1,450 students from Pre-Kindergarten to Tutorial House 4 (high school senior year), we remain steadfast in our commitment to provide a premier international education with United Nations ideals and principles at its core.” Shares Dr. Amos. UNIS was one of the founding schools of the International Baccalaureate (IB) and was among those awarding the first diplomas.
Instilling the Ideals of the United Nations
Under the auspices of the United Nations and guided by its ideals, UNIS provides a rigorous international program in an inclusive and diverse learning environment focused on academic excellence. The school fosters innovation, creativity, and cross-cultural communication, educating and inspiring its students to become an active force in shaping a better world: peaceful, compassionate, and sustainable. The connection with the United Nations is a unique feature of UNIS. The school teaches students the value of promoting equality, peace, human rights, sustainability, and justice for all, aiming to become an active force in shaping a better world.
Dr. Amos shares, “We are the school of the UN, and as such, we strive to inspire our students to take action in our local and global communities.” UNIS’s international and rigorous education enables students to become cognizant of the differences among the world’s people and to work together for the benefit of humankind.
The entire community benefits from UNIS’s unique relationship with the United Nations. For instance, in the first half of the 2022-23 school year, the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates spoke on campus during World Arabic Language Day celebrations. The Ambassador of Latvia shared his unique insight into the war in Ukraine with the school’s Model UN students. “Our MS Honors Choir sang alongside the legendary Dionne Warwick in the UN Ambassadors’ Ball as their honoree, and our Junior School Principal, who is French, live-streamed with his students from the White House as a guest during President Macron’s official state. And finally, two of our students served as Ambassadors of the United States at a student leadership conference in Qatar hosted by the Qatari government and FIFA during the World Cup,” says Dr. Amos.
A Campus Designed to Offer Real-Life Experience
UNIS’s unique location opens up opportunities for its students to have real-life experiences. “We are planning to redesign two floors of our five-story building, and this will create additional common spaces for students, more flexible seating in classrooms, more collaborative spaces for teachers, and more natural light throughout the entire school,” shares Dr. Amos. The school’s construction plans center around a Global Learning Center, where a traditional library meets a global connection through technology in the large space and in smaller, glass-enclosed work and meeting spaces.
At UNIS, class sizes, and student-to-teacher ratios vary depending on the division. However, the average class size is 18. “We do differentiate and provide instruction to meet each individual’s needs. We utilize an inquiry-based approach to education, as well as a Reading and Writing Workshop model, which helps teachers get to know each of their children better as learners,” pinpoints Dr. Amos. UNIS also partners closely with Parent Association, both schoolwide and by division. The school has several committees within the PA that help in specialized ways. For example, the Bridge2UN Committee is a tremendous resource in expanding the school’s network of connections with the UN and ultimately expanding opportunities for students in this regard. Dr. Amos says, “We also have specialized committees in Culture that promote celebrations of different cultures and DEI who strive to make our school more inclusive.”
Today, 100% of UNIS students are accepted into at least one 4-year college if they apply. “Sometimes, students will select a gap year following high school graduation, or they will fulfill their country’s obligatory military service, or they might opt for a foundation year before they begin college,” shares Dr. Amos. UNIS has five dedicated college counselors for a graduating class of 130. “Our students meet one-on-one with their college counselor beginning in their 11th-grade year. Beginning in 9th grade, the College Office offers evening programs for students and families, application workshops, guest speakers from admissions offices, and a class designed to help answer questions and share information,” explains Dr. Amos.
In its 75 years of existence, UNIS international education has inspired students worldwide to work together for the benefit of humankind. One of its students says, “UNIS is a school where we learn peace and tolerance. I have friends from all around the world. It’s so much fun!” In fact, a fun-filled learning experience that affirms the fundamental value of diversity in the education of our future leaders, activists, and innovators makes UNIS a unique institution.
For More Info: https://www.unis.org/
About Dr. Jennifer Amos, Chief Academic Officer of UNIS
Jennifer Amos joins the UNIS team with a heart for helping students to develop as critical and creative thinkers who set and achieve high goals. She holds a Ph.D. in Educational Administration with a concentration in Curriculum and Instruction from the State University of New York at Buffalo. She also holds degrees from Houghton College (B.A.) and New York State University at Albany (M.S.) A certified Reading teacher, Dr. Amos began her career as an English teacher and has extensive administrative experience in primary, secondary, and higher education.
Before joining the UNIS team, Dr. Amos served as High School Principal in the South Orangetown Central School District at Tappan Zee High School and as a PreK-12 Curriculum Coordinator and Middle/High School Principal in western New York. In these capacities, Dr. Amos has led strong instructional teams that work from a core value of doing what is best for students. Through this lens, she has shaped sustainable systems that resulted in steering students toward setting and achieving high goals in their academic pursuits and beyond.