Columbus schools to make IB the curriculum standard


Carmen K. Sisson



The Columbus Municipal School District will soon be one step closer to offering the rigorous International Baccalaureate curriculum for students in all grades. Columbus Middle School principal Cindy Wamble updated CMSD board members at last night''s meeting, telling them that this summer, 120 sixth- through 10th-grade teachers will undergo the second phase of training for the IB Middle Years program.


CMSD began offering the IB diploma program in 2007 for juniors and seniors at Columbus High School; the IB Primary Years program began being offered at Sale Elementary in January.


CMSD is currently two years into a three-year process to adopt the middle school curriculum. If the district is approved for the Middle Years program, CMSD will be the first district in the state -- and only one of 10 in the nation -- to offer the full K-12 spectrum.



The IB program was developed in Geneva, Switzerland in 1968 and is now used in 3,255 schools in 141 countries. The basic tenets of the curriculum encourage critical thinking skills, cultural awareness and lifelong learning.


IB trainers from across the globe will visit Columbus Middle School July 20-21 to administer an eight-session workshop for area teachers.


Wamble told board members that the big thing about adopting the Middle Years program is that soon it will be available to all students, not just those in advanced classes.


"This is a very rigorous curriculum that really challenges the students," she said after the meeting. "Our students will be exposed to so many different cultures."


She said along with cultural awareness will come the understanding that "just because someone is different doesn''t mean they''re wrong," which will help them grow not just academically, but in character also.


Teachers will work at each student''s skill level, making sure that even as academic demands rise, no child is left behind, she continued.


"This boils down to expectations, and right now we have really high expectations for our kids," Wamble said, adding that she thinks they will rise to meet the new challenges.


The program requires arts, health and technology components, meaning a few new classes will be available next year at Columbus Middle School, including drama, dance, and multimedia. Spanish will also be a requirement -- not an elective -- for all students.


In other news, interim superintendent Dr. Martha Liddell updated the board on the Teacher Incentive Grant, which will be implemented at Cook Elementary and Franklin Academy as part of a state-funded pilot program next year.


Liddell told the board that the performance-based compensation program could mean as much as $5,000 a year in additional pay for eligible teachers, principals and other personnel.


The board also recognized the following students and administrators: Shannon Fondren, elementary school Administrator of the Year; Frances Allen, middle school Administrator of the Year; Lindsey Killebrew, Columbus High School''s freshman with the highest GPA; Kameron Corrothers, CHS sophomore with the highest GPA; Skyler Gordon, CHS junior with the highest GPA; Rachel Stanback, CHS senior with the highest GPA and National Merit finalist; and Sparkle Jennings, CHS outstanding senior.



Carmen K. Sisson is the former news editor at The Dispatch.



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