2021 Niche Best Schools

International Student Support

Is English your second language? Are you anxious about living in a “foreign” country? We’ve got you covered. Through our international student support program and ESL courses, you’ll not only gain the language skills you need to thrive, but you’ll also be fully immersed and integrated into Fountain Valley’s diverse community, which includes students from 24 countries.


Fountain Valley School provides robust support to ensure that international students transition well to FVS and that their parents receive frequent communication about their child’s progress and well-being. It all begins with a two-day orientation program specifically designed to support the needs of international students AND their parents. Importantly, it provides time to recover from lengthy travel and jet lag.

A number of activities are planned to acclimate you in your first days at Fountain Valley and many are led by veteran FVS international students who serve as peer mentors. There is a session to familiarize you with cultural norms and differences in the U.S. A campus tour orients you with the lay of the land and includes a fun scavenger hunt that tests your campus knowledge and introduces you to the School’s history. You’ll also participate in fun community-building exercises and receive an orientation to FVS technology orientation, including tech etiquette. There are also shopping excursions so that you may stock up on snacks and outfit your dorm room with all the comforts you wish!

Parents also receive an orientation that is facilitated by translators. They meet their child’s adviser, get connected to the FVS technology they will be using to communicate, and have a session with the Health Center where they learn how their child will be cared for. The FVS Head of School invites all international parents into their for a social hour.


Kathleen Czop teaches ESL courses and is also available for help during free blocks and one evening each week during study hall. Mandarin faculty Xiaohong Teng also serves as an international student adviser, and she is adept at helping students navigate social, as well as the emotional and cultural transitions. Together, they are your advocates. They also work to educate the Fountain Valley faculty about students’ cultural differences and how the community can help support each student and the specific challenges they may face. 

In addition, you’ll have a faculty adviser and an advisory group to support you through every facet of school life. These people and this forum also provide great opportunities for cultural immersion. Advisee cohorts give students the opportunity to learn from each other as they support each other. You'll meet with them and your adviser once a week. Groups are small and include a cross-section of students from different grades with various interests. You’ll expand your circle of friends as you meet to discuss topics, check in with each other, play games, and enjoy treats.


International students are also supported by the Student Cultural Organization. The group meets regularly and plans monthly activities, cultural celebrations at All-School meetings, an International Potluck in the dining room, as well as off-campus events. Fountain Valley also makes a point of celebrating our international students' cultures. For example, the School rings in the Lunar New Year over several days with many colorful events that provide opportunities for students to share their traditions with the FVS community.


Approximately one-third of our international students participate in an ESL program as determined by their individual needs. Through a progressive series of courses, our goal is to help you develop the fluency you’ll need to participate in any class you choose by junior year. You’ll learn English at intermediate and advanced levels while delving into cultural concepts through literature, history, and geography. Our program is individualized, adjusting courses and curriculum specific to your progress. Classes are small, lively and interactive. All are college preparatory.


ESL English 2 prepares intermediate ESL students to analyze written material and compose analytical and descriptive essays. You will read several novels and short stories throughout the year, and develop your writing skills from paragraphs to a complete composition while increasing your vocabulary. Speaking and listening skills are honed as you investigate cultural similarities and differences between the United States and the countries that you and your peers represent. 

ESL English 3 prepares advanced English language learners to progress to mainstream English courses. Your vocabulary expands while you discuss fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Reading selections are chosen to align with mainstream sophomore and junior English course content. You’ll refine your English writing skills through narrative, descriptive and expository papers.


First year students begin with World History and Geography investigating the major themes of world history to gain an understanding of the people, events and principles that define it. Through project-based learning, presentations and essays, you’ll advance your critical and analytical writing skills by exploring a wide range of primary and secondary research sources. 

U.S. History: Origins to 1877 gives you an understanding of the people, events and principles that define the American experience. You’ll develop research skills and investigate the major themes of early U.S. history including settlement, the building of a nation, the Civil War and westward expansion. You’ll learn the organization of the three branches of the U.S. government, its election practices and dig into the Constitution, which serves as a defining document to this day.  From there, you’ll move on to “mainstream” history courses such as World Societies or Advanced  World History as a sophomore, or U.S. History as a junior.

International Support Team

List of 3 members.

  • Photo of Dorothy Strehl

    Dorothy Strehl 

    Dean of Academics & Academic Skills Center Director
    (719) 391-5355
  • Photo of Hans Gaston

    Hans Gaston 

    ELL (English Language Learning) Faculty
  • Photo of Xiuying Tan

    Xiuying Tan 

    Languages Faculty
FVS is a private, college-preparatory, co-ed, day and boarding school for grades 9-12 in Colorado Springs.
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