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German International School of Silicon Valley

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German International School of Silicon Valley

German International School of Silicon Valley
San Francisco, Mountain View, and Berkeley
United States
Motto The best of two worlds
Established November 1999 (1999-11)
Opened 2000
Principal Martin Fugmann
Grades 1–12

The German International School of Silicon Valley (GISSV) is a school educating children from pre-school to grade 12 using bilingual full immersion at sites in Mountain View, Berkeley and San Francisco in California.[1] Students graduate the school with both the German International Abitur as well as the California High School Diploma. The school is accredited with the Western Association of Schools (WASC) as well as by the German government, thus allowing graduates to study in either the USA or Europe.

The school was founded in November 1999, with teaching beginning in February 2000, originally at a conference center in Redwood City. In July 2000 the school moved to the site of the former Whisman Elementary School in Mountain View.[2]

Currently, the GISSV has close to 500 enrolled students at three locations - with graduates who qualify for both European and American Universities. Primary languages spoken at home by GISSV students include English, German, Spanish, Italian, Arabic, Korean, and Chinese. The school offers an academically rigorous, bilingual program with quality instructors and small class sizes and is unique in that it is one of only five recognized German foreign schools in the United States and the only one offering a High School Diploma on the West Coast. Advantages of being accredited as a German foreign school include report cards recognized in Germany, accredited diplomas (Abitur and High School Diploma,) and ongoing support from the German government. The GISSV is a California non-profit corporation governed by a board of directors composed of both German and American volunteers and operated in accordance with the California non-profit corporation code and the GISSV bylaws.


United by a desire for a German and California accredited curriculum, six German and American families formed and incorporated the German School of Silicon Valley (GSSV) in November 1999. Instruction began in February 2000 with 34 students. In July 2000, the school moved to the site of the former Whisman Elementary School in Mountain View and two years later, the GSSV obtained a 20-year lease with the city of Mountain View. In 2003, the GSSV officially changed its name to the German International School of Silicon Valley (GISSV) to better reflect the school’s multicultural and multi-ethnic student body combined with a pioneering multilingual school concept with the goal of serving Preschool through Grade 12 with the Abitur, while also fulfilling the requirements for a Californian High School Diploma.


Since its founding in 2000, the German International School of Silicon Valley has been active in its school development. It took part in several methods of evaluation (self-evaluation SEIS in 2005, Peer Review in 2008) and took those results to prioritize development areas. Those were used to further the quality development process.The Mission Statement, established in 2005, describes the philosophy of the school. The core educational mandate and the social and cultural role of GISSV’s international focus in the USA and especially in the Silicon Valley are stressed.The Vision contains eight guiding principles which describe the goals GISSV is striving for. It is rewritten every three to four years. The current vision was developed by representatives of students, Board, parents, administration and teaching staff in 2010.In 2011, GISSV brought all the high school students and teachers as well as parents together to define expected schoolwide learning results (ESLRs). Those show the qualities and competencies a GISSV graduate acquires during his/her time at GISSV. Based on all of those documents, the teaching staff and the administration used several conferences and workshops to determine the central focus areas of school development. The School Program gives details on how GISSV plans to fulfill those focus areas in the near future.

Bilingual Concept

The multi-lingual program of the GISSV is based on German language acquisition from pre-school through the High School Abitur and offers a bilingual education that fits the needs of international students. Depending on the age of the students, the concept is adapted to optimally meet the pedagogical needs with the student's capacity.

The GISSV's approach of early childhood education is an independent educational concept based on the 'Educational Preschool and Kindergarten Guidelines of Thuringia', Germany. The concept furthers the holistic and individual development of each student, and assures a smooth transition into GISSV's elementary school, which too bases their curriculum on the Thuringia educational concept. In the preschool and 'entry level' children play, experiment, and learn in comprehensive learning groups according to a concept called "Learning through Self-learning". Projects and carefully arranged learning environments, that tie in with the children's day-to-day lives, provide the base for educational processes.

Languages of instruction are German and English (in High School each with 50%). The following subjects are taught at GISSV:

  • German, Language and Literature (Grades 5-12)
  • English, Language and Literature (Grades 5-12)
  • Math (Grades 5-12) – German
  • 2nd foreign language French or Spanish (Grades 6-12)
  • 3rd foreign language French or Spanish (optional Grades 10-12)
  • Biology (Grades 5-12) – bilingual, German and English
  • Chemistry (Grades 7-12) – bilingual, German and English
  • Physics (Grades 6-12) – German
  • Erdkunde/Geography (Grades 5-9) – bilingual, German and English
  • Geschichte/History (Grades 5-10) – bilingual, German and English
  • Geschichte/History (Grades 11 & 12) – German
  • American History/Social Science (Grades 7-12) – English
  • Economics (Grades 9-12) – English
  • Ethics (Grades 5-9) – German
  • Arts (Grades 5-12) – German
  • Music (Grades 5-9) – German
  • PE (Grades 5-12) – GermanIT (Grade 5) – German

The German International Abitur

The five Abitur exams (three written exams and two oral exams) are in the following subjects: German Literature, European History or Economics or Math or a Natural Science or a language. German is always part of the exams. Apart from that, the areas Maths/natural sciences and social sciences have to be covered. In February of senior year, all students take the written examinations for the German International Abitur in three subjects including German. In late spring, grade 12 students have mandatory oral examinations in two subjects, which are overseen by a German educational official. The final GPA includes grades from both junior and senior years, as well as for the five Abitur exams. The final diploma that students receive after successful completion of these exams allows them to qualify for admission to Universities both in Germany and other European countries and in the United States.

Core Curriculum in High School

Subject Language of Instruction Grade 9 Grade 10 Grade 11 Grade 12
German German 4 4 4 4
English English 4 4 4 4
Spanish/French Spanish/French 4 4 4 4
Art German 1 2 2 2
Music German 1 0 0 0
Geography Bilingual 2 0 0 0
History Bilingual (grades 9-10) German (grades 11-12) 2 2 3 3
American History English 1 1 1 0
American Gov't English 0 0 0 1
Economics English 2 2 3 3
Ethics German 1 0 0 0
Mathematics German 4 4 4 4
Physics German 2 2 3 3
Biology Biligual 1 2 3 3
Chemistry Bilingual 2 2 3 3
P.E. German 2 2 2 2

Minimum periods per week for each grade - 33


In its short history, GISSV Students have earned the following awards and distinctions (among others):

  • First place winner of the "Volkswagen Group of America Student Innovation" prize
  • SIMR scholarship winner - summer of 2011 at Stanford University
  • National Hispanic Scholar Award
  • National Merit Commended student
  • DAAD full scholarship for 4 years in Germany for a non-native German speaker (an extremely prestigious award!).


See also


  1. ^ Deutsche Schulen und Kindergärten / German Schools and Kindergartens German Consulate General, San Francisco, 2011-09. Retrieved 2012-01-04.
  2. ^ History German International School of Silicon Valley. Retrieved 2012-01-04.

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