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What is the curriculum at ISM?
We challenge students through a rich and rigorous curriculum comprising traditional core subjects, the arts, Spanish, and physical education. Our teachers and administrators have high expectations of each student, and high expectations of themselves to help students achieve understanding at or above grade-level.

We arm children with knowledge, skills, abilities, and attitudes that will allow them to connect with the larger world throughout their lives. This includes development of broad tools for self-expression, positive interaction, and human understanding including communication, human movement, language and literacy, mathematics, visual and performing arts, science, and humanities.

In summer 2014, ISM earned authorization as Monterey County's first IB World School following three years of candidacy during which our teachers and staff completed specialized International Baccalaureate professional development and we adjusted our K-5 curriculum to fit within the framework of the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme and our grade 6-8 curriculum to align with the framework of the IB Middle Years Programme. IB schools share a common philosophy—a commitment to high quality, challenging, international education. Our IB PYP and MYP authorizations were both renewed in spring 2018.

Please see the Academics section for more information. For further information about the IB and its programs, please visit the IB website.

What instructional techniques does ISM employ?
We adhere first and foremost to the principles of inquiry-based learning and to teaching for understanding. Inquiry-based learning calls for beginning concept based units with guiding questions; facilitating student questions about the subject matter; and empowering students to research, explore, and present on the answers to their own questions.

Teaching for understanding implies putting Universal Design for Learning into effective practice, and designing units with a backwards design approach that involves identifying the central idea and methods for assessment of learning before developing guiding questions and classroom activities. Instruction is very much hands-on.

Classroom instruction assumes enthusiastic family involvement in the overall learning process at home where regular homework assignments reinforce classroom learning.




How do I know if my child’s application has been received? 
We will typically confirm that your application has been processed for inclusion in the lottery within 10 working days. If you have not received confirmation within 15 working days or by February 1, whichever is earlier, please email to request assistance. 

After the lottery, how do I know if my child has a space?
Two to three weeks after the lottery you will receive, via postal mail, a written notification of your child's placement either in a class or on our waitlist for the next academic year. If you prefer to find out sooner, you may view our facebook live page on the evening of the lottery to hear first-hand whether your child gets placed in a class or on the waitlist.

Does a student's position on the waitlist carry over from one year to the next?
No. Our charter specifies that the waitlist for a given school year is used ONLY for that school year. We also communicate this in the lottery results letters sent out each year. Every year we create new waitlists for each grade based on the lottery as guided by the preference categories (standard or equity) and order detailed in our admissions policy. Applicants on our waitlist for the previous year were given a preference in the lottery for the new year through the lottery for the 2019-2020 school year; however, we eliminated that waitlist preference starting with the lottery for the 2020-2021 school year.

Why did you eliminate the waitlist preference?
We eliminated the waitlist preference as part of our overall effort to create better access for traditionally under-served low-income and first-gen students (i.e. those who have no parent with a bachelor's degree). Some observers, including representatives of our authorizer, expressed concern that the waitlist preference provided students from more stable socioeconomic situations with an advantage, which was not our intent. Thus, as we revised our overall preferences during the charter renewal process, we chose to eliminate the waitlist preference because it no longer aligned with any specific goals or intent. 

What is the minimum age for admittance to kindergarten at ISM?
Consistent with the California Education Code, we require that a child reach the age of five on or before September 1 to be admitted to kindergarten for that school year (i.e. a student turning 5 September 1, 2023 or earlier may start kindergarten in August 2023 but a student turning 5 September 2, 2023 or later must wait until August 2024). 

Can exceptions be made to the age requirement if my child's birthday falls after September 1?
From a strictly legal sense, the California Education Code and ISM Charter allow for the possibility of enrolling a student who reaches the age of 5 after the September 1 deadline, but only on or after that student's 5th birthday and only if the ISM Board of Trustees determines that it is in the best interests of the child. In other words, the student would have to start midyear, not at the start of the year, and a strong case would have to be made for this late start.

From a practical sense, it is not possible for a child whose birthday falls after September 1 to enroll in kindergarten at ISM because we never have available space. Students cannot apply during our open enrollment window unless eligible to enroll, and, because our open enrollment window results in full classes and a long waitlist for kindergarten, we do not have additional enrollment windows in the middle of the year when the child might have become old enough to apply and enter under the legal exception.

Why doesn't ISM offer transitional kindergarten?
With 426 students in grades K-8, we have maximized use of every available space on our campus. We do not believe that we can appropriately serve transitional kindergarten students by squeezing them into either our space or our schedule. Moreover, if we were to keep the number of TK students proportional to our kindergarten enrollment of 40, given that TK-eligible covers just 3 months (25 percent) of a year, we would have just 10 TK students. This would be an impractical number for both educational quality and operational efficiency. On the other hand, admitting more than 10 TK students would give TK-eligible students a greater chance of being admitted to the school than the 75 percent of students who are not TK-eligible, which is contrary to the California Education Code requiring equal access through lottery-based admissions. Thus, because we feel it in the best interests of the TK students and all other students that we serve, ISM refers TK-eligible students to their home districts, which we believe are perfectly positioned to offer high-quality TK programs for all eligible students. We then welcome all kindergarten-eligible students, including those coming from TK programs, to apply to ISM.

Isn't transitional kindergarten required
The only sections of the ed code that refer to charter schools in relation to transitional kindergarten set conditions for a charter school to accept state financial apportionment for TK students. Essentially these sections state that charter schools need to offer TK and meet specific TK requirements IF they accept state funding for TK.

The State Board of Education has not communicated a position regarding charter schools and transitional kindergarten. Moreover, no court has rendered a clarifying decision. Given all of this, most specifically the clarity of the cited Education Code sections on the matter, ISM has not sought transitional kindergarten funding and does not offer TK.



School Hours & Attendance

What time does school begin?
The academic day begins at 8:00am. Classroom doors open by 7:53am, which allows your child to enter, get comfortable, and get organized. Teachers take attendance immediately at 8:00am. 

When can I drop my child at school?
ISM is again offering our Before-School Care program which was on hiatus through the pandemic. All students entering campus between 7:15am - 7:45am are to report to the MUR for before school care. They will also be able to participate in the free breakfast program. The exception is if they are accompanied by a parent at which point the student(s) must remain with their parent until the classrooms open at 7:53am.
The back gate will open at 7:50am every morning. We strongly suggest that all students be dropped off at the front of campus so that they can be part of our supervised before school care program. 
Kinder parents and kinder students only may use the kindergarten area playground before school starts if they are accompanied by a parent. Please do note that ISM will not provide supervision in the kindergarten playground before school. 

When should I pick my child up?
School ends at 3:15pm and pickup begins at 3:20pm in front of the school. Students line up by class on the soccer field near the parking lot. Parents picking up children must follow the line of cars by entering the driveway and turning into the parking lot prior to picking up their children in the loading zone as directed. We want to keep all children safe, so parents may not take children into their cars in any location other than the designated area. Cars should not pass to the left of the line except to exit after pickup, and are not allowed to stop or load there. This year families who want to pick up their child directly from their classroom, at the 3:15 pm dismissal time (or 2:25 pm for Kinders, and 12:55 pm on Wednesdays), can do so. The front gate will open at 3:10 pm. Parents who want to pick up their children from the back gate must provide the ISM office with written permission for their children to go to the back gate and wait for them after school.  Parents of MYP students who wish to allow their children to leave campus unsupervised must fill out that specific permission form.  Both forms are available on Parentsquare. 

You can pick up children participating in ISM's After-School International program as late as 6:00pm.

How do I handle picking my child up early?
First, you should tell your child to watch the clock to prepare to depart early. Second, you or your child should inform the teacher in person that morning or by email. Third, you should step into the front office to sign your child out at the planned time. The office staff will call the classroom when you arrive to have your child sent down. If steps one and two were covered, then you should only have to wait a couple of minutes for your child to arrive. To minimize impact on front office operations and on your child's class time, please do not ask the staff to handle informing the teacher for you or to have your child come down and wait in the office prior to your arrival. Please do allow ample time for pickup given that even the best planning and advance notice may not offset the tendency for some students to take their time getting from the classroom to the office. Make sure to supply a signed appointment note from a doctor's office after the appointment or it will be considered unexcused.

How do I inform the school when my child will be absent or late due to an appointment?
Per our attendance procedures, each morning of a child’s absence or arrival later than 9:00am, please email with your child's name and “Absent” in the subject line or enter their absence in the Absence portal. If you are unable to email, please call 831-583-2171 to report the absence.

Are there any special attendance rules?
Our attendance policy details all attendance expectations, and we have created an attendance policy summary as a shorter reference. We expect children to attend every day unless sick or needing to miss school for one of the other reasons allowed in the California Education Code. Families should schedule appointments with the doctor, dentist, etc. after the end of the school day (12:55pm on Wednesday, and 3:15pm every other school day). If absolutely necessary to attend appointments during school hours, students should miss school only for the hours of the appointment and will be required to bring a note from the appointment facility. Families should schedule vacations for weekends or school breaks.

Why are classroom doors closed at 8:00am?
In order to ensure that students entering late do not disrupt morning instruction, the classroom doors are closed promptly when the school day begins. Students arriving after this time need to go to the front office for a tardy slip before heading to the classroom.



Funding & Contributions

How is the International School of Monterey funded?
You'll find complete details on our Funding page.

What is the Family Share Program?
Get the full details on our Family Share Campaign page in the Giving section of this website.

I would like to donate a computer, printer, and peripherals. What resources will ISM accept?
Please review the technology guidelines and then contact the ISM administration for donation approval.




Are Family Hours mandatory?
How do we fulfill the Family Hours request if we are working during the school day?
What steps do I take to volunteer?
As a charter school, ISM cannot and does not require family service hours; however, we can and do request volunteer Family Hours. You'll find answers to your other questions about Family Hours in the Giving Time section of this website.




How do I keep informed about school events and activities in the classroom?
You can start right here on the website, using the homepage or Parent/Guardian Portal as your starting point to get the latest news and see schoolwide events and important dates. Using ParentSquare, our family communication platform, the school administration  will send you occasional emails and teachers will provide regular classroom updates  regarding projects, fieldtrips, and class events and dates. On top of that, you will find important academic information in ManageBac, our learning management system. All told, you will find it more challenging to manage all of the information than to find it. While we do try to make communication from the school as efficient as possible, we appreciate your understanding that you will receive and need to read a large amount of information to stay on top of what is happening at school. 

The ISM Community Connection meets monthly to plan school community-building activities, and all parents/guardians are encouraged to attend.

How do I meet other ISM families before my child begins school?
The ISM Community Connection usually hosts a schoolwide pool party in July where new families can mingle with each other and returning families. Unfortunately, the pandemic has made this large party undoable. In it's place, we encourage families to strike up conversations in-person and online to get to know each other and to learn from each other's experiences.




Are there any guidelines for dropping off and picking up students?
Given that our campus was built for 10-15 buses to drop off students rather than the 150-200 cars we typically see at the beginning and end of each day, getting students to and from school proves a challenge each day. We ask all families to do their part to make the process as smooth as possible by reading and following the guidelines in our Student drop off and pick up procedures

Is transportation provided to and from ISM?
Families are responsible for providing their own transportation to and from school. Many families participate in self-arranged carpools.

Who can park in the disabled parking spots out front?
Only those with a valid disabled parking placard or plate can park in the designated spaces. Others are subject to a substantial fine.




What are the uniform requirements?  
The ISM dress code, established to support a “positive and serious attitude about school”  is meant to “reduce distractions and disruptions caused by clothing, minimize any economic disparities between students, and promote student achievement.” Please refer to the ISM Uniform Dress Code to ensure that you know the details about shoes, shirts, jackets, etc., and the consequences for noncompliance.

Where can I get uniforms?
We've intentionally selected uniform colors that are readily available at multiple stores and at a variety of price points. Among others, you may purchase uniforms at Target, WalMart, Old Navy, The Gap, re-sale shops such as Goodwill, and online sites such as Lands End and Amazon. 




Is the International School of Monterey a private school?
No, the International School of Monterey is a public charter school. This means we receive public funds and cannot charge tuition. We must follow the California Educational Code requirements for charter schools, yet have the flexibility to offer unique and challenging educational programs and attract teachers and student families who support the school’s mission and philosophy. Most ISM parents feel that our school offers the equivalent of private school quality and experiences, and they typically become highly involved in their children's education through educational support at home, volunteer hours at the school, and financial support to cover the appreciable amount of money we spend per student beyond the state allocation.

Is there a School Lunch program?
Lunch is served daily with fresh, nutritious, and tasty fare! See our Fresh Lunch page for details.

Does ISM share the Manzanita campus?
ISM enjoys exclusive use of the entire Manzanita campus, owned by Monterey Peninsula Unified School District, and has a lease for the site effective through June 2027. The lease also designates that ISM may use the track and field within the track on the south side of the Manzanita campus throughout the school day and as scheduled for after-school sports.