Prosser Creek school to implement International Baccalaureate program | SierraSun.com
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Prosser Creek school to implement International Baccalaureate program

ABHUTCHISON, Sierra Sun

Prosser Creek Charter School will begin implementing a new philosophy into its curriculum next year – a philosophy aimed at helping students to be global citizens.

The school will include the International Baccalaureate (IB) program in its curricula for all grades in the fall, and students will be encouraged to recognize relationships between school subjects and the world outside school by combining knowledge, experience and critical observation.

The International Baccalaureate Organization is a Switzerland-based nonprofit educational foundation organized by international educators more than 30 years ago. These educators had a vision that a shared academic experience emphasizing critical thinking and exposure to many different viewpoints would foster tolerance and inter-cultural understanding among young people.

“I think one of the greatest strengths is it demands a higher level of thinking,” said Prosser Creek Head of School Jayna Gaskell. “It’s getting students involved in the universe.”

There will be a Primary Years Program, designed for students between the ages 3 and 12 that focuses on the total growth of the developing child.

A Middle Years Program is designed for students between the ages 11 and 16 and provides a framework of academic challenge and life skills in line with that stage of adolescence.

The Diploma Program is designed for 11th and 12th graders as a rigorous pre-university studies program, in which students can fulfill requirements for different national education systems.

Students in the diploma program can get certificates for completing IB classes after taking examinations, as well as graduate with an IB diploma.

IB courses are similar in nature to Advanced Placement courses, which can be used as college credits at most universities.

An official IB Diploma would first be available to PCCS Class of 2003, as the program is implemented, reviewed and accredited.

“An IB Diploma weighs very strongly with universities,” Gaskell said. “It’s significantly more substantial than your regular high school diploma.”

Approximately 1,000 schools participate in the the IB program in 100 countries around the world.

The charter school is applying to the state for funding for training and materials to get the program up and running, Gaskell said.

Gail Alderson, a principal with PCCS who is helping write the grant for state funding for the program, visited two schools with accredited IB programs in California earlier this year.

One school was a charter school in inner city San Jose, the other was in an upper/middle class neighborhood public school in Scotts Valley.

She was extremely impressed with both programs.

“What I really liked about it was that most students could tell you themselves how it made their education meaningful for them,” Alderson said. “It wasn’t just the teachers talking about the program. The students had a deeper level in thinking about things and were able to look at them from different view points.”

In the IB program at all levels, five areas of interaction are embedded with in and across the different subjects offered, which include: health and social education, community services, environment, approaches to learning and Homo Faber, which means “man the maker.”

“It’s really not a curriculum, it’s a philosophy based on what makes a global citizen,” Alderson said. “It’s about what qualities make a global citizen.”

Prosser Creek will be addressing the new program at its upcoming general meetings, open to the community.

A meeting will be held in Truckee today, May 11 at 5:30 in the Truckee-Donner Public Utility District board room.

A Lakeside meeting will be held on May 18 at the Fairway Community Center in Tahoe City at 5:30 p.m. For information, call 550-2305.


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