The big stack of paperwork is done and filed, changes in teaching are being implemented and students are already adapting to the “community and service” way of life.
Now folks at Liberty Point International and Pueblo West High Schools are waiting for the final steps in becoming a recognized International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program.
Nicole Melster, coordinator for the program that spans both schools and grades 6-10, said she submitted the application for authorization the first of October. Now, they wait.
“We’ll be reviewed in the next month or so,” she said.
“Then they’ll send a team out in hopefully April for about three days. They’ll go through classrooms, watch teachers and make sure that we’ve implemented the program as we should.”
Melster said the site visits will also include talking with teachers, students, parents, Pueblo School District 70 staff and more to get a feel from everyone who is involved about the MYP and how it’s going.
“It’s exciting because we’re finally there,” Melster said.
Following the site visit, the evaluation team will send notice about any matters that need to be addressed. Melster will outline a plan of how to address any issues and return it to IB, upon which the program will hopefully be authorized and official.
The MYP application has been in the works for three years.
It will go hand-in-hand with the high schools IB diploma program, helping students adapt the IB ways of critical thinking, stressing the importance of community involvement and service and more.
Melster said the fact that this MYP is a partnership between both the Liberty Point International School and Pueblo West High School campuses is unique.
She said in most locations and schools, there are individual IB programs per school.
Although the IB philosophy is universal no matter the location, having a singly run program means more continuity for the students, Melster said.
“We want our kids to feed into PWHS and into the diploma program, and we want that continuous flow of kids into IB, so this way we keep things more consistent,” she explained.
However, Melster noted that students who come from Skyview Middle School or transfer from any other non-IB schools will not be lost or behind, and they can simply meld into the program with the rest of the students.
“At the MYP level, there’s not really a curriculum so much as a philosophy,” she said.
“A philosophy of teaching. Taking what you’re teaching in the classroom and connecting it to a student’s life so they understand what they need it for or why they should care.”
The community involvement aspect of IB is also important, and Melster said she’s excited to see how much the Liberty Point International students have already started to take hold of the ideas.
“Kids are in my office all the time, talking about community and service ideas. Can we do that, and go here,” she said.
“We didn’t have that before and it’s so exciting. It’s evolved and I think it’ll become bigger and better.”
Melster said the biggest hurdle so far is finding projects that middle school students can help with, since so many community service activities have an age requirement that sixth to eighth graders don’t meet.
“We’d love for anybody who knows of projects that our kids can help out with, please let us know,” Melster said.
“I think in the coming years it will get easier as more people know. And we’re already seeing the impact our kids can have.”
Middle school students are asked to complete at least nine hours of service per year.
Ninth graders should do 10 hours, and 10th graders are asked to complete 20 hours.
While Melster waits to hear back about the site visit and application, she said she and her leadership teams (in both schools) continue helping other teachers implement the IB philosophies and ideas.
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