Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

February 24, 2013

International school students gain worldly perspective.

Central Middle School seventh-graders decoded hieroglyphics inside an ancient Egyptian tomb Wednesday.

With flashlights in hand, students walked through the cool, dark space past mummies and ancient treasures.

Of course, the students didn’t actually trek to Egypt. In fact, they never left their school.

Humanities teacher Pat O’Brien created the tomb for her students more than a decade ago. But it’s especially useful today as the Kokomo middle school works to become an International Baccalaureate school that focuses on project-based learning and global awareness.

Intense Evaluation

By March, Central Middle School and three other Kokomo schools might join the fewer than 50 schools statewide authorized to offer the international-based curriculum that’s respected by universities around the world.

Kokomo-Center Schools has been piloting the international school model at Kokomo High School, Central Middle School and Lafayette Park and Sycamore elementary schools for two-and-a-half years.

Next month, evaluators from Minnesota, Colorado and Canada will spend more than two days at the schools to analyze their progress.

They will spend time in classrooms and interview students, teachers and parents. They will pick apart curriculum, assessments and school policies, said Central Middle School Principal Mike Sargent.

At the end of the visit, the evaluators will decide if the schools should become official International Baccalaureate schools.

Making a Decision

The program has been a long time coming in the school district.

School board members in the 1980s had looked into it, Sargent said. The last superintendent researched it.

Then, Superintendent Jeff Hauswald came along. He had some background in the program and knew how important it was, Sargent said.

The discussion shifted away from “if” the district would implement the new curriculum to “when” it would.

“We have to develop an option for students to prepare them for the 21st century,” Sargent said. “It was the desire to offer something unique for our students.”

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