Odell, Heather-1

Ms. Odell is a Latin Subject Expert Teacher and Teacher Mentor at BASIS Independent Silicon Valley. She joined our faculty in our third year, and has been an incredibly important member of the World Languages team ever since.

When I attend BASIS Independent Silicon Valley Open Houses and admissions events, I am regularly asked variations on the following question: if my student enters our school in grade 6 or 7, can they catch up with the curriculum?

It’s an understandable question: a quick glance at our admissions materials will tell you that students in grade 5 get a head start in Latin, while students in grade 6 are already taking biology, physics, and chemistry as three different subjects. With the demanding curriculum offered at BASIS Independent Silicon Valley, it makes sense for parents to express concerns that their new students come in with a disadvantage, or may struggle in their classes. However, there are many supports and safeguards to help students succeed when they join us after grade 5.


Heather 2

Ms. Odell teaching her students a lesson on the irregular verb oe, ire which means to go in Latin

One of the most amazing things about the BASIS Curriculum, is that it is one that spirals. In a spiraling curriculum, students return to many of the same topics each year to cover those ideas in greater depth and detail. This means that a new student can enter a class such as grade 6 Latin and successfully learn everything they need to know, while a returning Bobcat has the chance to review those topics and solidify their knowledge of the basics. The instruction is differentiated for different skill levels and supported by the teacher.

Heather in ClassMs. Odell asking her class questions

Students also have student support outside the classroom. Our Dean of Lower School Programs, Ms. Kaminski, works closely with new students to help them find their way around and manage their workload; she also holds workshops on study habits and life skills for students throughout the year. All teachers schedule at least two office hours per week for students to drop by to ask questions, review material from class, or work on homework. I also have an amazing grade 8 peer tutor who attends office hours to help my grade 6 students hone their Latin translation skills. Teachers have a weekly set aside to meet with parents as well; we know that parents may have questions during this transition and we are ready to answer questions.

I’m grateful to be part of a supportive community like BASIS Independent Silicon Valley, where students, teachers, and deans all work together to help new students find their place in our community.

BASIS Independent Silicon Valley is a private middle and high school in San Jose offering students in grades 5-12 a program benchmarked to the best education systems in the world.