IB Program is “Incredible, Inspiring & Fulfilling”

“The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. To this end the organization works with schools, governments and international organizations to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment. These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.”

When you consider world and national events, the mission statement of the International Baccalaureate (IB) sounds more relevant and important than ever. State High is approaching five years as an authorized IB World School—one of only 23 in Pennsylvania and the only one in our area— offering the Diploma Programme. The Education Foundation helped to fund its launch through donor contributions to Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit program.

Jennifer Schreiber, Ed.D., International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme Coordinator/Theory of Knowledge and Latin Teacher, said administrators began to explore the program and found there was interest among students and families. Now, two cohorts have graduated from the program in 2021 and 2022.

“Because of the pandemic, IB is not as well-known as it might otherwise have been, but students who participate are finding a lot of success,” Jennifer said. “For many of the students, they love the smaller community they feel within larger high school. The program has dedicated teachers who share classes with same group of students, so they become a tight knit learning community. It builds relationships among teachers and peers.”

“The relationships students build with each other and their teachers are significant. These relationships stem from striving for learning and striving for growth,” said Veronica Iacobazzo, 11th & 12th-grade English Teacher and IB Extended Essay Supervisor and Theory of Knowledge Teacher.

The IB World School offers curriculum to students all over the world with a global focus and a style of learning that Jennifer describes as being more student-driven and inquiry-based, giving students more agency over their experience. “IB offers a different style of learning and while it’s advanced like AP courses, it’s more focused on individual student growth and exploration of content,” Jennifer said. “College credits are available through testing, but the program assesses students differently and showcases learning in a variety of ways.”

There are six categories of curriculum within the program, and State High has teachers trained by IB in each category to deliver in-person instruction. Plus, each course includes inquiry-based learning that allows students to select a research project designed to explore their own interests and passions connected to academics.

“It gives students an opportunity to dig deeper into something they enjoy from an academic perspective,” according to Jennifer. “For example, I’ve had two students who are dancers complete the project by exploring different aspects of dance. Other students have focused on areas like film and philosophy.”

“IB inspires students to take action in their learning and community,” Veronica said. “Many of our students are leaders outside of the classroom. Most recently the diploma students channeled their energy into the You Matter campaign organized by the SCASD libraries. In our first year, students rallied with Clearwater Conservancy to promote environmental wellness for the Chesapeake Watershed.”

“In addition, students develop strong academic habits that they will need at the university-level,” Veronica continued. “For two years, students must think critically and internationally, and read and write extensively in all disciplines. They learn how to manage stress and time in a supportive environment.”

Students can sign up for the full program or take IB courses a la carte. For the upcoming year, 17 students are enrolled in the full diploma program and around 100 will take IB courses. Like AP courses, there is a fee to take the assessments for credit, which can total $700 for students doing the full program. A scholarship fund has been established through the Education Foundation to make sure the opportunity is available regardless of a student’s financial circumstances. Contributions can be made online at scasdfoundation.org

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