Welcome to Copernicus International School!

We believe that the basis for a child’s successful development is joy, trust, and encouragement to try new things. We believe that children and young adults need to be challenged to realize their full potential. We believe in listening to each other and working together. We believe in our students. At CIS*, we expect everyone to become active participants in their school’s success. Our students earn the skills and knowledge that define a young person’s life by being curious together, sharing the joy of understanding, and forming genuine relationships within a diverse community. Throughout our continuous curriculum, we give our students time and space to think, try, try again, play, create, and grow.


The name CIS* is inspired by the scientist and humanist Nicolaus Copernicus, who started the Scientific Revolution by placing the Sun rather than the Earth at the center of the universe. His rational and unprejudiced discovery of reality through persistent research and hard work characterize what CIS* stands for.

We have studied and worked as teachers, administrators, and school board members in Europe, China, South America, and the United States. Between us, we have more than 30 years of experience in the international educational field.

We decided to invest our time, energy, and means in this project because of our belief that an excellent education will have the most profound impact on a young person’s future success.

However, we can only realize this school by working with partners and actively involved stakeholders. Join us and become part of this exciting project!

We hope you enjoy discovering CIS* and look forward to meeting you at one of our upcoming information sessions. Don’t hesitate to contact us directly.

Michael Holtgrave (mholtgrave@cisnyc.org)

Claudia Weisser (cweisser@cisnyc.org)

Our Mission

Copernicus International School (CIS*) offers an innovative, holistic, high-quality education to best prepare each student for tomorrow’s opportunities and challenges. Our inspirational staff and caring learning environment encourage high academic and personal achievement with an emphasis on the core values of respect, effort, and personal responsibility.

CIS* is a not-for-profit organization that will eventually become a K-12 school. We keep our tuition at a minimum in order to be affordable to as many families as possible.

Who We Are

Michael Holtgrave has 20 years of experience as a teacher and school administrator. He has worked for eleven years at the German International School New York as Assistant Head of School, the Upper School Head, and as a teacher (Mathematics, Physics). After that, he taught at Shanghai Singapore International School, where he was Head of the Science Department. Michael holds MS degrees in Mathematics and Physics from University of Münster, Germany, and an MA degree in Educational Leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Claudia Weisser has lived and worked in Brazil, Mexico, Germany, and the United States. She has an MA degree in Psychology from PUC São Paulo and has worked for global companies in Human Resources for many years. Claudia’s two children attended German and Swiss International schools in Mexico, Brazil and New York, and later graduated from top-ranked colleges in the United States. Claudia came to New York in 1985. She has been an engaged board member at international schools for more than a decade.

Claudia and Michael have been on several task forces to evaluate and improve the quality of schools. These activities included workshops and presentations on teaching methods, collaboration among teachers, and differentiated learning in diverse learning groups.

They have also participated in the evaluation, counseling, and accreditation of schools through the Klingenstein Institute at Teachers College (Columbia University), the New York State Association for Independent Schools (NYSAIS), and the German Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs (BVA).

At A Glance
  • Independent, not-for-profit, non-parochial, and co-educational school
  • To be located in Long Island City (LIC), Queens, NY
  • Launching as K-1 in September 2018, with plans to grow to K-12
  • Average class size of 20 students; approximately 500 – 600 students at full capacity
  • International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum in all grades
  • Bilingual immersion program in English/Spanish
  • Additional foreign languages offered starting in the 6th grade
  • Highly qualified and engaged teachers; offering competitive salaries and benefits
  • Modern, innovative, and dynamic teaching methods
    • Differentiated learning
    • Interdisciplinary courses
    • “Blended learning” and use of technology in all subjects
  • Additional online courses offered as electives
  • Community service featured as a fundamental component of the IB curriculum
  • Tuition set with affordability in mind
  • Seeking authorization/membership from the following associations:
    • International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO)
    • Council of International Schools (CoIS)
    • New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS)
The School

Starting with Kindergarten and grade 1, CIS* offers an innovative, holistic, high-quality education to best prepare each student for tomorrow’s challenges and opportunities. The trademarks of CIS* are high levels of interdisciplinary and collaborative work, close follow-ups on each student’s development, and a genuine love for teaching.

Our Students

We teach children and young adults to understand the world in all its cultural and linguistic diversity, local characteristics, and global contexts.

We allow every child to be unique. We foster individual talents and interests to enable our students to become self-confident and inquisitive.

We encourage a child’s innate curiosity. We appeal to the joyful aspects of understanding and the genuine relationships that arise in our multifaceted community. Learning and growth are grounded in a well-balanced, continuous curriculum that offers enough time to think, to experiment, to create, and to play.

Our Teachers

We only hire people who inspire us. Our teachers actively engage in the creation of our school’s curriculum and extracurricular activities, and they welcome the regular evaluations of their work that they receive.

We believe that only the best-prepared and most engaged teachers are able to truly connect with a student. We encourage interdisciplinary and collaborative work. Love and enthusiasm for teaching are requirements to work at CIS*.

Our Community

Our primary responsibility is to the children and their families. We will build strong partnerships, including comprehensive learning support for struggling students. Teachers, students, and parents are all encouraged to contribute their ideas.

As a community, we learn together and treat each other with respect.

We keep our tuition at a minimum so as to be affordable to as many families as possible. Our school neither starts nor ends at the front door; we will nurture relationships with local organizations, institutions, and residents to enrich our programs beyond the classroom.