“I like meeting new people from other countries,” eighth-grader Aditi Sood said. “It’s pretty exciting.”
Starting from Scratch
Sargent said teachers have worked hard to establish this program in their classrooms.
They were required to participate in 50 hours of professional development last year. They gave up nights and weekends to restructure their curriculum, the principal said.
“You’re basically throwing everything out and starting from scratch,” Sargent said. “It takes a lot of work to get there.”
The international school model emphasizes teaching the “whole student.”
Teachers are helping students become caring, curious, knowledgeable, balanced, reflective, open-minded citizens who know how to take risks, communicate well and act with integrity and honesty, Sargent said.
Teachers are also tackling skills students will need for high school and college.
They teach kids about issues like plagiarism and finding valid sources online.
“You have a lot of information to fit in 180 days,” Sargent said.
But it’s paying off. The principal said he’s already seen growth in state assessment scores for the students in the international school program.
The curriculum has been a challenge for students, though.
The International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program for students in sixth to 10th grades is more challenging academically than the Primary Years Program for elementary school students, Sargent said.
Eighth-graders are taking freshmen algebra courses, and starting in seventh grade, students take Spanish as a core class.
By the time they move to high school, they could have two semesters of Spanish and two semesters of algebra under their belts.
Every student is required to log a set number of community service hours outside of school, too.
Sargent said many volunteer at the Kokomo Rescue Mission or at the humane society. Some shovel snow away from their neighbors’ driveways.
The challenges and time commitment hasn’t deterred students from enrolling in the program, though.