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Ocean Avenue School Now Authorized IB World School

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Ocean Avenue School Now Authorized IB World School
Posted on 08/25/2016
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Ocean Avenue Elementary School (OAES) has been named an authorized IB World School, Primary Years Programme. OAES is now the only elementary school in Maine to attain such a distinction, and one of just a few in New England, according to OAES Principal Beverly Coursey.

“This is wonderful news,” Coursey said. “Every staff member is to be congratulated. We have much to be proud of.”

IB stands for International Baccalaureate. The International Baccalaureate Organization is a nonprofit education organization that supports learning models built on rigorous intellectual inquiry and personal growth for children. At the elementary school level, this is called the Primary Years Programme (PYP).

In all IB programs, the focus is on helping students become “internationally-minded,” taking an active, principled, positive stance toward learning and making a difference in an increasingly globalized future.

OAES worked through a rigorous multiyear authorization process to become an IB World School. “Our entire staff has worked with perseverance, and it has been the most fulfilling work of my career,” Coursey said.

After an authorization visit, IB notified the school late this summer that it had succeeded. A school-community celebration is planned for Oct. 5.

“We’re feeling very proud and we want to share our accomplishment with our community,” said Patty Shaw Sprague, the school’s IB coordinator.

In the authorization letter, IB says that OAES is now “part of a global community of schools committed to developing knowledgeable, caring young people who will be ready to negotiate their futures successfully and make contributions resulting in a more harmonious and peaceful world.” The letter said OAES will see the positive results when its students in the PYP program “graduate and undertake activities that enhance social, cultural and economic environments locally, nationally and, perhaps, internationally.”

OAES staff and parents chose the PYP program as its learning model because it “focuses on the development of the whole child through a framework that can meet every child’s academic, social, emotional, cultural and physical needs; offers a concept-based, inquiry-driven learning model that is integrated across subjects in the curriculum; encourages students to take ownership of their learning, with teachers providing initial knowledge-building, guidance around questioning, facilitation of inquiry, differentiation for all learners, and formative assessment of learning; and helps prepare students for life in a globalized world by focusing on deeper exploration of universal central ideas around which students can build their understanding of their world.”

Sprague gave an example of the student-centered, concept-based, inquiry-driven model of learning that OAES fifth-graders will be engaged in this school year. The overall concept will be climate and sustainability, she said. Students will create questions about the topic, researching the answers to those questions – not just through reading but through talking to people in the community – and then in a culminating exhibition demonstrate what they have learned to others. 

Sprague said examples of questions the students might choose to explore include: “What constitutes an ecosystem?” and “How can we share limited resources?”

Another benefit of becoming an IB World School is that OAES staff will be able to work with an IB community of educators dedicated to best practices in teaching. “We have access to other IB schools and their expertise in this kind of concept-based, inquiry-driven learning,” Sprague said.