Thumbs up for Midland Elementary’s IB program
International authorization finally arrives

       “It could have been a 'no.' ”
       When the letter from Geneva, Switzerland, arrived in the mail last week, Midland Elementary Principal Barbara Bishop said she could only hope it contained the long-awaited news that her school had received official authorization as an International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) school.
       But instead of ripping open the envelope then and there, Bishop decided to make a ceremony out of it, opening the letter in front of the entire school March 10 and coupling the event with a life lesson for the students about “working toward our goals.” If the letter is a rejection, she told the assembled students in the school gym, “we don't quit and cry, no; we roll up our sleeves and work harder.”
       “Then we opened it, and it was wonderful news,” Bishop enthused. “Now it's official. We're no longer piloting.”
       The notification, including a letter and certificate, arrived more than 2 ˝ years after IBO allowed Midland to start a pilot program and approximately eight months after Bishop had thought the authorization would come.
       “Now we've joined an elite group,” she said. “There were 31 in the United States, and we're 32.”
       An official celebration is scheduled April 26 at the school. The school district's board and top administrators will be invited. “Each class will do a performance involving their students, and the PTA will help us make an international meal,” Bishop said.
       IB is a style of education in which students are taught to learn about subjects based on open-minded questions they themselves ask.
       The “international” monicker stems from IB's beginnings in the 1960s from a group of schools attempting to create a “common curriculum and a university entry credential for geographically mobile students,” as an IBO brochure states.
       When worldwide education specialists began realizing over the years that students in the program performed at consistently higher levels, the program began expanding and being used in standard schools in various countries.
       Midland is the only elementary school in District 11 with an IB program. Those at the middle school and high school level are at North Middle and Palmer High, respectively. Students from Midland who stay in IB go to North.

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