Three middle schools in EPISD have been accepted as candidates for the prestigious International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme.
Morehead, Lincoln and Nolan Richardson middle schools are on the candidate list for the program, which focuses on creating independent thinkers.
“It’s a great feeling to finally be taking steps to implementing this program at our school. We have been working on this all year long,” Morehead IB Coordinator Rebecca Winn said. “I think this program creates the most knowledgeable lifelong learners out of our children.”
Coronado houses El Paso’s original IB program, which has been running for more than 10 years. This year, Andress High School became a candidate school for the IB program as well.
To become an IB World School, campuses must undergo a rigorous authorization process, which involves a request for candidacy, training, consultation process and verification visit.
Texas International Baccalaureate Schools (TIBS) provides training for the schools in Texas, working hand-in-hand with the international organization to implement the program. They are available to offer support to the more than 200 IB schools in Texas, including the schools that are currently in the candidate process.
“You just can’t say ‘I want to be an IB school.’ It’s open to any school that’s interested in going through the application process,” TIBS Executive Director Karen Phillips said. “We have private schools, charter schools and certainly all of our public schools, but it takes three to five years to become a fully authorized school.”
More than 180 teachers participated in the two-day training at Lincoln Middle School. The training is taught by IB workshop leaders and is divided into distinct sessions for each teaching discipline.
“The more the teachers learn about the program the more excited they get about it,” Winn said. “I’m hoping by the end of their training they will feel more comfortable with taking the next steps to implement the program.”
Global mindedness is one of the driving forces behind the program. Students are encouraged to make connections between their studies and the areal world and learn they can make an impact on a much larger scale.
Principal Haidi Appel is happy to bring the program to Lincoln, which feeds into the existing IB program at Coronado High School.
“We are very excited to be a part of the IB program because we know it’s really going to help us challenge our students,” Appel said. “We love the fact that the opportunity is for all the students, not just a select group.”
In preparation for the program, the journalism and English classes wrote letters to United Nations ambassadors and thus far received an overwhelming response.
“We’ve hear back from many of them,” Appel said. “We received flags from Brazil and Korea, and other countries have sent us music and books and other items.”
Nolan Richardson Middle School principal Joseph Manago feels the program is the perfect fit for the diverse student population at his school.
“We are over 50 percent military, so I have students that come from all over the world,” Manago said. “So for the students that are here in El Paso to be able to collaborate and share those experiences with kids who have actually lived all over the world through the IB program it’s an exciting thing.”
The teachers will take what they learn at the training and incorporate it into their lesson plans. The IB program comprises eight subject groups, which includes language acquisition, literature, individuals and societies, sciences, mathematics, arts, physical and health education and design.
“This is one of those programs that involves the whole child,” Winn said. “We are really incorporating everything that the District is trying to do with our District of Innovation goals, and we get to do it under one roof.”