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Our Philosophy

Irvine International Academy (IIA) is a Mandarin Immersion Charter School where students can learn in both English and Mandarin Chinese. These two languages are spoken by a substantial number of individuals around the world. IIA believes that this pairing of two languages will allow our students to become more familiar with and be able to navigate various cultural situations – the definition of the Global Citizen.
 
IIA will provide experiences for exceptional learning and personal growth to release individuals capable of leading and rationally supporting of their ideas.  By inspiring risk-taking in a supportive environment, students become teachers and lifelong learners as they engage in partnerships to achieve goals and projects.
 
IIA is a place where Learning to do the right thing is as important as acquiring book knowledge. Traditional values of humanity are restored in the classroom. By genuinely accepting others and one another’s success, students develop a true self-value based on objective accomplishments.
 
Daily instruction will emphasize multiple intelligences (Dr. Howard Gardner, Harvard), Dr. Benjamin Bloom's Taxonomy of higher-order thinking, and Gifted And Talented Education (GATE) so that our IIA students can develop problem-solving and lifelong learning skills.  

Our International Teachers speak a number of languages: Mandarin, English, Russian, Farsi, Spanish, Korean, Cantonese, and French.

IIA graduates/alumni become the person they were created to be, beacons that changes the world and the ones others depend upon.

Our History

History of Irvine International Academy
by Founder Michael Scott, PhD
 
Welcome to a dream come true: Irvine International Academy!  Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I walk around our campus when I see what I always hoped was possible- children laughing, learning, excited about life and speaking Mandarin and English. 
 
My journey to help build this school and my love for China began many years ago.
 
I am a career Elementary teacher.  I love sharing my skills and passion with other educators!  Eight times, I traveled throughout China, at my own expense, doing professional development during my school breaks.  Eric Mazur, Balkanski Professor of Physics and Applied Physics and Area Chair of Applied Physics at Harvard University, asked me to speak at a conference on Peer Instruction in Beijing.  However, my school district would not let me take the 4 days off to attend.  So, I planned early retirement to focus on China.  Dr. Lu, the top principal of China (Beijing No. 2 and 31 affiliated schools) mentioned I should begin a Mandarin Immersion school.
 
After much research and writing a 400-page petition and business plan, we first tried to present the idea of a Mandarin – English immersion school in a district in Riverside County, but it didn’t pass.  Of that original School Board, Doug Husen (attorney and Superintendent of Crossroads Christian School), Miller Zhuang (Chinese educator), and Dr. Joleen Smith (Azusa Pacific University professor of Education) stayed committed and began our process in Irvine.  We added Edward Watson, (PhD Education and parent) and businessman Glenn Rogers to enhance our expertise. During that time the Ontario-Montclair School District hired Aaron Scott and myself, to help create their Mandarin/English Immersion program. 
 
I now had been working for three years without pay (actually donating $36,000 of my own savings in the process).  Sometimes I was discouraged and thought the dream was dying.  With my son Aaron, we stood on street corners across from Irvine’s elementary schools and parks collecting signatures, eventually 160 – more than the half required for a school of 192. We submitted to Irvine USD (IUSD), but they declined our petition (IUSD had never granted a charter).  We appealed to Orange County Department of Education (OCDE), but they said we needed more Mandarin academic support. 
 
I recontacted all the leaders of California’s Mandarin schools and reconnected with Principal Steven Chuang.  He was considering leaving his current school and was interested.  This is the same process used to hire Curriculum Director Kennedy Rocker; I contacted, interviewed, then introduced them both to the IIA Board for a vote.  The Executive Director directly hires these right- and left-hand positions having confidence in them helping the school.  This process is entirely different than hiring a teacher (advertise on Edjoin and interview in front of a committee).
 
Persevering through another year and another rejection from IUSD (very common for districts to reject charters), we appealed again to OCDE.  Now with an original signing parent, Marybeth Chen, Steven Chuang as principal, plus the signatures of 9 Mandarin teachers, we were passed on January 6, 2021.  Within 10 weeks, over 384 students were signed up for Transitional Kindergarten (TK) through 5th grade.  Already, 124 new students are applying for the next year.
 
Irvine USD approved our request for this great campus at 4784 Karen Ann Lane.  IIA is proud to offer Mandarin and English immersion, STEAM science because of a Kay Family Foundation grant, and classes with Orange County Music and Dance, funded with a Larry and Helen Hoag Foundation grant.  Our Wonder Kids after school program is one of the city’s best.  As an international school, our teachers speak Farsi, Korean, Russian, Spanish, French, Mandarin, and English.
 
One of my goals is to personally model and teach our children leadership, tenacity, and perseverance to strive for their goals.  I ask you to celebrate Irvine’s first FREE, public, Mandarin/English immersion and Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) school.
 
Once again, Welcome!  And thank you 


Irvine international Academy is just that, international and opens up opportunities around the Pacific Rim.

history

Interim Executive Director’s Welcome
Welcome to Irvine International Academy!
I have been in education for nearly twenty years, having experiences in both private and public schools, as well as working abroad, in colleges and in business. Adding value to wherever I work, I am dedicated to raising the standard of excellence. I also believe in cultivating a strong supportive community. I am so thankful to be a part of IIA. As an educator, I look forward to learning, growing, and positively impacting those around me.

My journey to IIA began before my undergraduate graduation, where I volunteered at my university’s Asian Affairs Center. There I met visiting scholars from China. I volunteered to spend time with them, building our first cross-cultural relationships together. Through these connections I found a job teaching in China. I spent four years in China, teaching, and learning the language and culture. China offered such a rich history and provided me with a great learning experience. Living abroad directed my interests towards understanding different educational opportunities that would support the construction of the global citizen.

As I returned to the United States, I wanted to find a way to bring back what I learned to a diverse group of students. I felt that bilingual and multicultural education was the perfect avenue to create a cross-cultural connection. Bridging my experience abroad with academics, I received a masters degree in East Asian Studies (China focus) and a PhD in sociology (education focus). My dissertation was entitled, Loving the Language: The Choice, Marketing, and Impact of Mandarin Immersion.

Where I am now in my life, can be traced back to the decision I made to leave for China seventeen years ago. Since that time, I have participated in various types of cross-cultural relationships and understanding between China and the United States. Irvine International Academy embodies these characteristics. Getting involved with IIA in its early stages is exciting, and I welcome everyone to join me in continuing this journey together.


Sincerely,

Dr. Watson

 

Edward Watsonhead
Interim Executive Director

Principal's Welcome

Steven Chuang was born and raised in Taiwan. He went to Philadelphia in 2000 to further his study and received his Masters of Science in Education at the University of Pennsylvania in 2001, followed by teaching licenses in Mandarin Language and "Teach English as a Second Language" (ESL) in 2002.

Mr. Chuang launched his career at Philadelphia's esteemed magnet school Central High School, teaching Mandarin for 15 years. Central High School has a long history of excellence in education, including being the second oldest public high school in the United States, and having been nominated multiple times as a Blue Ribbon School. Many of Mr. Chuang's former students at Central High School have gone on to graduate from Ivy League tier universities.

During his time at Central High School, Mr. Chuang took on leadership or consulting positions helping various summer STARTALK grant programs, including one at the University of Pennsylvania, which inspired him to pursue his certification to become a principal (Cabrini University). STARTALK is a student program funded by the U.S. government to help enhance the educational experience of students learning languages which aren't commonly taught, but are considered critical to U.S. security in the 21st Century.

After receiving his certification for principalship, Mr. Chuang served as the principal of College Park Elementary School with Mandarin Immersion program and Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program in the San Mateo-Foster City School District from July 2016 to June 2020. During his tenure, College Park was identified as a 2018 California Distinguished School for its high academic performance. Principal Chuang wrote proposals that brought the prestigious STARTALK program to the San Mateo-Foster City School District for the first time. The summer programs were well received by the community, and provided enriching summer experiences for students, especially social-economically disadvantaged students and students who needed extra support to continue to learn during the summer months at no cost to their families.

Principal Chuang was inspired to join Dr. Scott and other talented team members to advocate for the Irvine community to have its first tuition-free public charter elementary Mandarin immersion school. The Orange County Department of Education Board Trustees approved the petition for this charter in part due to the strength that Principal Chuang's two decades of experience brings to the charter. Principal Chuang is energized by the challenge of bringing bilingual Mandarin education to the Irvine area, and in ensuring that the Irvine community is well served by this new unique option for students.

Superintendent's Welcome

If you are reading this, then you are anticipating the future! Almost all the Nobel Prize winners are bilingual. The best school in the County for your children is Irvine International Academy!

History of Irvine International Academy
by Founder Michael Scott, PhD, MDiv, PT
 
Welcome to a dream come true: Irvine International Academy!  Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I walk around our campus when I see what I always hoped was possible- children laughing, learning, excited about life and speaking Mandarin and English. 
 
My journey to help build this school and my love for China began many years ago.
 
I am a career Elementary teacher.  I love sharing my skills and passion with other educators!  Eight times, I traveled throughout China, at my own expense, doing professional development during my school breaks.  Eric Mazur, Balkanski Professor of Physics and Applied Physics and Area Chair of Applied Physics at Harvard University, asked me to speak at a conference on Peer Instruction in Beijing.  However, my school district would not let me take the 4 days off to attend.  So, I planned early retirement to focus on China.  Dr. Lu, the top principal of China (Beijing No. 2 and 31 affiliated schools) mentioned I should begin a Mandarin Immersion school.
 
After much research and writing a 400-page petition and business plan, we first tried to present the idea of a Mandarin – English immersion school in a district in Riverside County, but it didn’t pass.  Of that original School Board, Doug Husen (attorney and Superintendent of Crossroads Christian School), Miller Zhuang (Chinese educator), and Dr. Joleen Smith (Azusa Pacific University professor of Education) stayed committed and began our process in Irvine.  We added Edward Watson, (PhD Education and parent) and businessman Glenn Rogers to enhance our expertise. During that time the Ontario-Montclair School District hired Aaron Scott and myself, to help create their Mandarin/English Immersion program. 
 
I now had been working for three years without pay (actually donating $36,000 of my own savings in the process).  Sometimes I was discouraged and thought the dream was dying.  With my son Aaron, we stood on street corners across from Irvine’s elementary schools and parks collecting signatures, eventually 160 – more than the half required for a school of 192. We submitted to Irvine USD (IUSD), but they declined our petition (IUSD had never granted a charter).  We appealed to Orange County Department of Education (OCDE), but they said we needed more Mandarin academic support. 
 
I recontacted all the leaders of California’s Mandarin schools and reconnected with Principal Steven Chuang.  He was considering leaving his current school and was interested.  This is the same process used to hire Curriculum Director Kennedy Rocker; I contacted, interviewed, then introduced them both to the IIA Board for a vote.  The Executive Director directly hires these right- and left-hand positions having confidence in them helping the school.  This process is entirely different than hiring a teacher (advertise on Edjoin and interview in front of a committee).
 
Persevering through another year and another rejection from IUSD (very common for districts to reject charters), we appealed again to OCDE.  Now with an original signing parent, Marybeth Chen, Steven Chuang as principal, plus the signatures of 9 Mandarin teachers, we were passed on January 6, 2021.  Within 10 weeks, over 384 students were signed up for Transitional Kindergarten (TK) through 5th grade.  Already, 124 new students are applying for the next year.
 
Irvine USD approved our request for this great campus at 4784 Karen Ann Lane.  IIA is proud to offer Mandarin and English immersion, STEAM science because of a Kay Family Foundation grant, and classes with Orange County Music and Dance, funded with a Larry and Helen Hoag Foundation grant.  Our Wonder Kids after school program is one of the city’s best.  As an international school, our teachers speak Farsi, Korean, Russian, Spanish, French, Mandarin, and English.
 
One of my goals is to personally model and teach our children leadership, tenacity, and perseverance to strive for their goals.  I ask you to celebrate Irvine’s first FREE, public, Mandarin/English immersion and Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) school.
 
Once again, Welcome!  And thank you 

 



 

Michael Scott, Ph.D.head
Founder
 

Charter School Petition

Read the petition presented by Irvine International School which was granted by Orange County Board of Education in January 2021.