Our graduates, current and former parents share their thoughts on Tartu International School. 

Ida Melltorn

My name is Ida and I am from Sweden. I studied at Tartu International School when I was in year 8-9 (2015–2017).  

Please describe your overall experience of Tartu International School.

My time at TIS was so nice; I learnt a lot, made new friends and got to experience many exciting things. I really loved the atmosphere at TIS, everyone was so helpful and understanding. We all came from different countries and cultures, but it didn’t matter, we all became good friends and enjoyed learning from each other.  

What do you think, makes TIS special?

One thing that makes TIS different from any other school I’ve been to is how the teachers go out of their way to make sure that everyone is enjoying school and that you get the help that you need to succeed. Another thing that makes TIS stand out is how close everyone at the school is. When I went there, we would spend time with everyone at the school including the younger ones. We didn’t care which grade you were in, instead we all hung out together. TIS doesn’t feel like a normal school it is more like a big friend group or like a big family.  

Where do you study now and how has TIS prepared you for that?

Right now, I study at a high school in Sweden and my time at TIS has been really useful for me here at my new school. Before coming to TIS I wasn’t the best in school, I had troubles in math and I was not the best in my class at any subject. Now, on the other hand, I am almost a year ahead of everyone in my class and I don’t find the Swedish school to be difficult anymore. Not only did I learn a lot of facts at TIS but I also learnt how to study and what I should do to make school less stressful. This has really helped me when I started my new school here in Sweden. It also helped me to become less shy and more open when it comes to meeting new people.  

So, I want to thank all of the teachers at TIS and I am so grateful that I got the opportunity to move to Estonia and go to TIS!


Jonathan Gelfman

Studied in TIS from 2009–2014
Israeli, lived half of my life in Estonia

Please describe your overall experience of Tartu International School.

I remember being as excited as I was terrified coming to my first day at TIS back in 2009: my fourth-grader self clutching a heavy Oxford English-Hebrew dictionary, I remember being curious as to what studying in such a small school in English might be like, and who my future friends might be. Little did I know that I was arriving at the doorstep of my new home, a warm community whose teachers and students shaped whom I would grow to be throughout my middle-school years. I regularly warmly remember my time at TIS: the annual summer-trips, the multitude of languages, study opportunities, my first essay, my first research project, and the ample friends I would meet: some of which I still talk with to this day.

What do you think, makes TIS special?

You might think TIS is small, and back when I arrived, the entire school (grades 1 to 9) only had 25 students! But it is precisely this coziness that fosters encouragement, creativity, leadership, friendship, responsibility, and commitment; crucial skills that are paramount for global-citizens living in the 21st century.

The teaching team in TIS applies the IB curriculum to focus on the individual and their strengths, developing the student by encouraging them to pursue their passions, all the while challenging them to become critical enquirers that are both keen and skilful across a variety of disciplines.

Where do you study now and how has TIS prepared you for your next stages of study?

Currently majoring in Mathematical, Computational, and Statistical Sciences (MCSS) with a minor in Chinese Studies at Yale-NUS College in Singapore. It is my years in TIS that gave me the tools and skills which encouraged me to challenge myself in every way in order to best prepare me for high school, university, and for life.

I truly can’t imagine where I would be nowadays if it were not for TIS!


Lari Paukkunen

I’m from Oulu, Finland and I started studying at Tartu International School in 2015 and finished ninth grade there in 2017.

Please describe your overall experience of Tartu International School.

The school is awesome and its clear advantages are the small class sizes with a friendly atmosphere that supports learning. I really enjoyed my time there with my friends and teachers.

Where do you study now and how has TIS prepared you for that?

At the moment I’m studying at Oulun Lyseon lukio’s IB Diploma Programme. The years I spent in TIS prepared me well for it. TIS thought me a lot about sciences, like physics and chemistry, but most importantly I learned to speak and write in English.


Lena Melltorn

Our two daughters started at TIS in September 2015, they were at the time 12 and 14. They spent two years at TIS, Julia in grades 7 and 8, Ida in grade 8 and 9.

Please describe your overall experience of Tartu International School.

Amazing! Our girls had never changed schools before and had no previous international experience, but from day one, our girls quickly became part of the TIS family. Students and staff are so open and welcoming to new students making the transition to a new school so smooth.

The teachers were very attentive to establishing the girls’ academic levels and how to best set their individual curriculums and support them moving ahead. It all just flowed so seamlessly. And to top it all off, the girls quickly transformed at TIS. Back home us parents had to nag them about doing homework etc, but at TIS their own motivation increased quickly, and suddenly they actually enjoyed learning and working to learn. So, their results improved a lot – without any nagging at all from us parents. There is nothing better than seeing your children so happy at school while at the same time achieving good results.

What makes TIS special?

Two things – the staff/teachers and the size of the school. The teachers are absolutely amazing, they are all so attentive to each individual student, their respective personalities and needs. Plus they all somehow incredibly manage to make learning FUN. And the academic achievements that come as a result of this are outstanding. Also the size of the school. Being small, everybody, smaller children, older children, staff etc all get to know each other really well and it all really becomes a second family.

Where do your children study now?

We have now moved back to Sweden again, where the girls once again go to regular public schools.

How did TIS help to prepare your children for their next stage in education?

Academically both girls are now way ahead of their classmates in Sweden, in some cases like for maths they are actually 2 years ahead of their classmates. The motivation for studying and learning that came during TIS years is something that has stayed with them and they are, as a result of that, finding school easier/more fun than a lot of their peers. That’s something I think will stay with them as they move through high school and on into University.

It can be sometimes also frustrating though for them, because they do compare their current schools and teachers now to when they were at TIS and they do miss TIS a lot. I think our whole family does unanimously agree that TIS, the school, its staff and students, are truly exceptional and having had the opportunity to be part of the TIS experience is truly unique and something that for sure will have a positive impact on the future of our daughters!


Grade 1 parent

United States of America

Our child started at TIS in fall 2018 and will be at TIS for one year.

Please describe your overall experience of Tartu International School.

While we have only been at TIS for a few months, but have had a great experience so far. The teachers and other staff at the school work hard to make the school day both enjoyable and educational. Not only has my first grader learned through what is taught in the classroom, but also through the many unique experiences TIS provides. Because of the small class sizes, the curriculum can be tailored to the needs and interests of each child. Staff and teachers are friendly and willing to talk to parents at any time, even when just passing in the lobby. Overall, our experience at TIS has been great and we look forward to many more adventures to come.

Our first grader came home from his first week of school and said “I like this school, we just play all day.” In talking with the teacher before school started, we were aware that she was kind and energetic and that she would be using experiences both inside and outside of the classroom to teach the children. We decided to dig a little deeper and found that they had, in fact, learned so much in just the first week! They learned about themselves, their classmates and the world around them in a way that kept them interested in learning more. The transition to a new school can be very difficult for younger children and I expected at least a few tears in the first week of school. However, I got just the opposite, with him saying he actually misses school on the weekends.

What makes TIS special?

TIS is special, because learning happens not just in the classroom, but all over the school and all over Tartu. The children participate in nature walks, museum visits, and various sporting activities. They attend plays, view artwork, and simply explore the world around them. These activities have encouraged our son to be inquisitive and he even teaches us a thing or two.


Tiia Neuvonen


Our child started in 2012 and is still studying at TIS.

Please describe your overall experience of Tartu International School.

It is a place of warm and friendly atmosphere, where acquiring new knowledge takes place in innovative and fun lessons.

What makes TIS special?

It’s absolutely student-oriented. The teachers always aim towards the best learning results, taking into account all the students’ different learning styles and preferences.

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