The highly respected International Baccalaureate program (IB) will be offered to middle grades students in Mount Washington this fall, in the first year of the Mount Washington Elementary School’s expansion to a pre-K–8 program, according to school leaders.
As students enter the first-ever 6th grade class in August, they will participate in IB’s “Middle Years Programme” (MYP), a high quality, rigorous curriculum that encourages students to develop critical thinking and communication skills and to participate in creative and service-oriented activities, while developing a strong work ethic.
The MYP was recommended by the Academics & Activities Committee, a team of parents, teachers, school administrators, and education specialists who investigated nearly two dozen middle school curricula and conducted site visits to several schools in the region. This recommendation was presented in January to the MWK8 Steering Committee, composed of parents, community members, business leaders, and educational professionals, and the chairs of all MWK8 project sub-committees.
The Steering Committee unanimously voted to endorse the MYP curriculum, and MWES Principal Sue Torr and Baltimore City Public Schools have accepted the recommendation. The school has begun the process of applying for certification from the IB Organization (http://ibo.org), in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Steering Committee also endorsed the recommendation of a new name for the school: “The Mount Washington School.” The name will take effect once the middle grades expansion begins with the 2011–2012 school year.
“Together we will establish a premier middle grades program for the students of the Mount Washington School,” Ms. Torr said. “I am thrilled that the community has stepped forward to support this opportunity. I am proud of the staff and their eagerness to make the expansion to two campuses successful.”
The new school also will have a new Mission Statement to guide future development of the school’s programs and policies, as developed by the project’s One School Committee:
“The Mount Washington School prepares children to succeed in the local and global community by challenging all students to strive for academic excellence, to contribute to the development of strong, positive communities, and to become caring, responsible citizens.”
The IB Middle Years Programme focuses on an integration of all of content areas with an emphasis on global-mindedness and the interrelatedness of subjects. The program helps
students make connections between subjects and real world issues. The IB program has an international reputation for high quality education that has been sustained for over 35 years.
The Middle Years Programme aligns directly with the IB Diploma (High School) Programme, providing an opportunity for Mount Washington students to prepare for the most competitive high school programs and to receive early preparation for college and beyond.
The school expansion was made possible by the decision last year of the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners to lease the former Shrine of the Sacred Heart School, which closed in June, from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore. The former Shrine school building will host children in pre-Kindergarten through 2nd grade, while children in 3rd grade and above will be in the current Mount Washington Elementary School building. Baltimore City Schools is undertaking needed renovations and capital improvements to both buildings to accommodate the new configuration.
The Steering Committee has launched a campaign to raise $500,000 for additional needs, including some of the startup and training costs to implement the IB MYP, technology in the classrooms, media and science centers, and improved outdoor play spaces. Many in the community, including all of the Steering Committee members, have already contributed to the campaign.
The expansion of the school will provide Mount Washington School families, for the first time, with an excellent middle school program within the neighborhood. The expansion will start in Fall 2011 with the addition of a 6th grade and will add one grade for each of the next two years.
“As the principal,” Ms. Torr added, “there is nothing more rewarding than to know our students will be prepared to achieve anything they set their minds to.”