Last week our Board of Education meeting was on a different day than usual (Wednesday) and at a different location than normal (Slate Hill Elementary.) I know what you’re thinking…we’re really getting wild and crazy here in Worthington 🙂
In the Fall of 2007 Worthington Schools charged each elementary school with researching and determining what types of knowledge and skills their students would need to be successful adults in the 21st century. After much discussion that included parents, students, community members and staff, Slate Hill Elementary agreed that because we live in a fast paced, technological and global society, our children would need to be creative problem solvers, team players, culturally sensitive and culturally aware. Furthermore students would need to obtain the ability to determine the resources they need to obtain accurate and reliable information.
After focusing their vision, Slate Hill sought to find the resources they needed to provide this type of education to their students. After much research and discussion, the Slate Hill community adopted the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program.
The process for becoming an International Baccalaureate Primary Years school is intense. As of November 2012, Slate Hill is still a “candidate school.” Hopefully this April the school will finally achieve full accreditation.
As part of the IB program all Slate Hill students receive education in a foreign language (Spanish.) All K-6 classrooms are self-contained (students do not switch classes between different teachers for different subjects) and all teachers are required to develop inter-disciplinary units of instruction that answer the following questions:
1. What do we want students to understand?
2. What do we want the students to know about?
3. What do we want students to be able to do?
4. What do we want students to value?
5. How do we want students to act?
Creating these units of instruction takes an extraordinary amount of time and the Slate Hill staff is not exempt from the work of the rest of the school district.
Monday’s Board of Education meeting was a chance for the Slate Hill staff to showcase their progress and to explain how IB is making a difference in the lives of students. (Slate Hill’s students are very diverse. Over 110 Slate Hill students are native Spanish speakers and thus English language Learners, over 55% of Slate Hill students qualify for Federal Free or Reduced Lunch.) From their presentation it is clear that they are on the right path.
Five years have passed since this journey began. Slate Hill got a new principal three years ago (Mr. Ken Pease), and over a dozen staff members have left the school, some because IB was more than they bargained for. Not all has been easy. Finally this Spring those who are there now will finalize the journey. But, the journey of educating students at Slate Hill is a constant work in progress. As seen Wednesday evening it is a journey that is on the right track. A journey where staff are working incredibly hard and because of that hard work students are benefitting. A journey that our Board of Education, our Administration, and this community, should be very proud of.
Slate Hill will soon fly their IB flag with pride. They’ve earned it. They’re STARS!
* The picture at the top of this post hangs in the lobby of Slate Hill. It is of three current Slate Hill students and represents the student body. The picture (and three others) was completed by Noah Yoder a 25-year-old artist who currently resides in Philadelphia. Thanks Noah!