We are committed to creating a joyful, relationship-based community with rigorous instruction that is relevant to the development of bi-literate, globally minded students.
Zarrow is a child-centered learning community committed to the development of socially responsible global citizens who are lifelong learners! We believe in a school where everyone takes part in the love for learning through positive interactions that create a joyful community. We believe in developing inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.
Henry Zarrow International School is one of two immersion schools in the Tulsa Public Schools district and focuses on teaching English-dominant students to become bilingual in Spanish. Students from each quadrant of the city are accepted through a lottery process and begin receiving instruction primarily in Spanish beginning in kindergarten. Since students begin the process in early elementary school, their brains are physiologically primed for language learning, and they learn the second language proficiently with a near-native accent. Teachers in our school represent 13 countries and are either native Spanish speakers or demonstrate near-native proficiency. Over time, instruction in English is gradually added and, by 5th grade, students are learning 50% of the time in English and 50% of the time in Spanish.
Bilingualism increases brain cognition by utilizing the highest levels of thinking, focus, and awareness. Bilingual children who are educated in their second language have been seen to outperform single language children in their native language.
Henry Zarrow, or Mr. Henry, as he is affectionately known to most, was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin February 12, 1916. He was the first son of Sam and Rose Zarrow, immigrant parents from Latvia (Russia). When Henry was two months old, Sam and Rose established themselves in the grocery business in Tulsa in 1916.
By the time Henry was 13, he opened his own grocery store in west Tulsa. He soon began learning the used pipe business and established Sooner Pipe and Iron (later known as Sooner Pipe and Supply) when he was 22 years old. But while Mr. Henry grew to become a successful businessman, he became known as a person with a generous heart. His biggest influence for giving came from his wife Anne. The Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation is broad-based throughout Oklahoma with specific areas of interest in children’s issues, the homeless, and the poor. In addition, Mr. Zarrow is very proud of his service of more than 40 years on the board of Saint Francis Hospital. It's been said about Mr. Henry, that you will never meet a more giving or humble man. The state of Oklahoma has truly felt the impact of Henry Zarrow.
The immersion program at Zarrow International School opened in August of 2002, originally named Audubon Elementary School. Led by Principal Harriot Patterson, Audubon started with two kindergarten classes and two 1st grade classes, adding two grade levels each year until kindergarten through fifth grade were represented. The original Audubon school building was housed in the current Skelly Primary building, offering students the English as a Second Language (ESL) program known as Newcomers. In the third year of Audubon Elementary, the ESL program moved to a separate building, and Robin Postier became the principal for the next six years.
Audubon Elementary was renamed Zarrow International School after a generous donation by Tulsa philanthropist Henry Zarrow, who helped Tulsa Public Schools with a one-million-dollar challenge grant. Henry Zarrow, affectionately called Mr. Henry, was actively involved with Zarrow International School. He often visited the school and talked with the students as they walked the halls. He always asked if the school needed anything, taking a proactive approach to Zarrow International. Mr. Henry even attended the school promotion ceremonies, taking the time to congratulate each student and shake their hands. Each year, Henry Zarrow and his family were guests of honor at the school's annual PTA Spring fundraiser, and Mr. Henry was always surrounded by appreciative faculty, staff, and parents.
In the 2006-2007 school year, Zarrow International School implemented its first exchange program with a school located in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. The exchange program allowed 5th grade students the opportunity to be fully immersed in the Spanish language and culture for eight weeks. The program has evolved over the years, and today the program offers 5th grade students the opportunity to choose between a four-week exchange to Costa Rica or an eight-week exchange to Spain.
Consuelo Franklin became principal in 2010 for one year after which, Zarrow International School relocated to its current location on Hudson Avenue. The school's relocation was part of Project Schoolhouse, an initiative instituted by the former superintendent, Dr. Keith Ballard. The new facility allowed for the addition of the third kindergarten class to accommodate the increasing demand for immersion education within the Tulsa Public Schools district.
Jania Wester became principal in 2011, where she remained until May of 2015. Under Wester's leadership, she helped the school transition smoothly from the original paper application process to the lottery selection process. Principal Wester also helped to ensure that the demographics of Zarrow International School reflected those of Tulsa Public Schools while ensuring that the school standards remained high. Thirdly, Principal Wester worked to create trust between the school, families, and the staff, as well as trust between the staff and administration.
In the fall of 2014, Zarrow International School hosted, for the first time, two Amity interns as teacher assistants within our school. These interns worked with the full-time teachers within their classrooms to fulfill their internship requirements for the school year. Zarrow families graciously open up their homes to house the interns during their stay in Tulsa. Since the partnership with Amity was a wonderful experience in 2014, two additional interns were added in 2015, providing four interns within our classrooms.
Kelly Forbes became the fifth Zarrow principal in July of 2015. Mr. Forbes filled the hallways with laughter and excitement. He reinforced immersion "best practices" such as the language of the day and sheltered learning techniques to continue to elevate teaching and learning to new levels. Mr. Forbes served as principal for two years and left Zarrow International School in 2017 to teach in Thailand.
In July of 2017, Zarrow International School welcomed its current principal, Denise Marquez. Under Principal Marquez's leadership, the program continues to grow and expand. In the 2018-2019 school year, Sra. Marquez worked to get a second pre-K class at Zarrow. She also participated in developing a multicultural middle school program while working on the multilingual pathways committee in Tulsa Public Schools. Through the work of this committee, the multilingual program at Rogers Middle School was created. Student-centered learning, distributive leadership, and building solid connections mark Sra. Marquez's principalship. In 2019, Sra. Marquez led the creation of the Zarrow Learning Lab, which is highly effective at closing the gap in foundational literacy skills in Spanish and English. The lab has allowed for an increase in student achievement while providing a more equitable learning environment by using data to ensure every student has the opportunity to succeed. Sra. Marquez has created a team of teams where the administration, staff, PTA, and community work together to create a child-centered learning community committed to developing socially responsible global citizens who are life-long learners. Zarrow International School has been built on the foundation of continuous improvement and excellence in education to provide a bright future for every Zarrow student.
Henry Zarrow Principal Denise MarqueZ
I have been privileged to work as an educator for over 30 years. The first 8 years I taught both Spanish and English as a Second Language at the high school and university levels. The rest of my career I have served in a variety of teaching and educational leadership roles at university, high school, and elementary levels both in the United States and in Mexico. The commonality in the three decades of experience has been the collaboration with others to provide the best possible bilingual educational experiences for students.
I earned my bachelor of Arts and Sciences in Spanish from Oklahoma State University, and my Master of Arts in Spanish from the University of Oklahoma, and my certification in educational leadership from Northeastern State University. After teaching Spanish at Southwest Missouri State University, I moved to Mexico where I taught and held leadership roles at Instituto Politécnico Nacional and Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey where I served as administrative coordinator of the curriculum redesign project for the language department. I later provided ongoing professional development and observation/feedback on the implementation of the newly designed methodology and curriculum. I then went on from there to open my own language institute for which I designed all the plans of study, curriculum, assessments, evaluation/feedback process, and professional development for staff. After returning to Oklahoma, I designed, piloted, and implemented a successful pre-K through 6th grade Spanish program at Wesleyan Christian School in Bartlesville.
Everything I have engaged in thus far has been driven by my profound passion for bilingual education including my journey at Tulsa Public Schools as the principal at Zarrow International, which began in July of 2017.
Also, as the parent of two boys, I recognize the importance of a strong home-school connection. Parents are every child's first teacher and I believe that by working together we can make sure every student's social, emotional, and academic experiences are extraordinary.