On Wednesday, the Anne Arundel County Board of Education approved an internationally minded curriculum for Germantown, Manor View and Southgate elementary schools, with plans to bring it to 12 schools over the next few years. The program will begin along with the new school year in August.
The International Baccalaureate (IB) (PYP) is a curriculum model aimed at teaching students the skills needed to become lifelong learners on a global stage, according to Mary Austin, the school system’s coordinator for the IB program.
Austin said the program gives the school system an advantage over others in the region, and implementing the program would help eliminate achievement gaps in elementary schools.
“No other school system, locally or nationally, has engaged with IB at the level that we have," Austin said.
Board member Eugene Peterson said the program would take some time to get rolling, but over the years, the public would be “amazed” with the results.
“Teachers will become more fundamentally engaged in inquiry and less engaged in ‘What’s the next question kids need to know to get through the MSA,’” Peterson said. “That’s the value of these kinds of programs.”
Principal Walter Reap of told the board that he attended an IB workshop that gave him a blueprint for how the curriculum would be implemented, and he could already see the difference it would make at his school.
Among the additional requirements of the PYP is a mandatory second-language course for the students. Austin said at the elementary level, it is essentially an introductory experience, not a full-blown language course. IB provides services in English, French and Spanish, but schools can also provide additional languages.
The school system is no stranger to the IB program. In 2003, it started at three high schools in the area: Annapolis, Meade and Old Mill. Three years later, it launched at three middle schools: Annapolis, Old Mill North and MacArthur.
The three elementary schools added to the IB program this school year will allow those students to feed directly into the upper grades’ programs as they advance, said school system spokesman Bob Mosier. Maxwell said he and his staff were working toward securing contracts for IB at nine additional elementary schools.
More detailed information on what the program will bring to the schools is available online at www.ib.org/pyp.
Two New Faces on Board
Two new members joined the school board on Wednesday, including a new student representative.
Amalie Brandenburg of Severna Park and Jillian Buck, a South River High School student, received a warm welcome for their inaugural meeting. School board members in Anne Arundel County are appointed by Gov. Martin O’Malley.
Brandenburg was appointed to replace outgoing District 33 board representative Vic Bernson, who chose not to seek another term. Buck replaces former student representative Katharine Scruggs. As a student rep, Buck will serve a one-year term on the board.
In other board member activity, Patricia Nalley was reappointed for her second term as president of the board for the year, and Andrew Pruski was appointed as vice president, taking over the mantle from Teresa Milio Birge.
Board Overhauls Advisory Panel
A new framework for the Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) was approved Wednesday. The changes will chart a new direction for the group that will advise the board regarding issues at county schools.
The former countywide CAC was composed of one member from each county school, who communicated their issues to the larger body. The new CAC will be a bit more streamlined, composed of a 29-member executive committee, the majority of which are appointed by the board.
The new CAC will include two members from each high school cluster, one for elementary schools, one for middle schools and two at-large county representatives. The rest of the members will be appointed by the board from “certain organizations,” according to board documents.
Chairman of the CAC Joanna Conti told the board on Wednesday that the changes still didn’t represent the direction she had hoped for. Last month, Conti criticized the board’s overhaul, saying it would destroy their chances for a grassroots type of organization.
“The leadership and members of the CAC continue to believe that this is not the way to create the strongest citizens advisory group,” Conti said. “On the other hand it’s within your rights to organize the CAC in whatever means that you would like to do. We will work with you to create the most effective citizens advisory committee under these terms.”
Conti’s comment elicited no reaction from board members, who moved on to approve the CAC changes unanimously.
The board is currently seeking applicants for membership on the new CAC. To obtain an application, contact Teresa Tudor at 410-222-5414 or email her at email@example.com.