This celebration had been eagerly anticipated by the Charter Oak community for nearly three years.
On Wednesday night, nearly 400 children, parents, faculty, administrators and elected officials gathered in the auditorium for the celebration of designation as an .
One of only five elementary schools in Connecticut to earn this designation, Charter Oak’s implementation of the International Baccalaureate program has impacted not only the students, but also the attitudes and engagement of the entire school community.
“The International Baccalaureate program has increased the rigor, relevance and relationship of everything we do,” said Principal Mary Thompson. “Student engagement has evolved to the point where you can immediately walk into the school and feel that it’s a wonderful place.”
Outgoing PTO President Laury Currier said the process of becoming an International Baccalaureate World School “has really helped bring our community together to become lifelong learners.”
Currier said the program makes Charter Oak “unique, and empowers the kids to take hold of their learning.” As a demonstration of that, during Monday’s class night, every graduating fifth grader presented a major project that they had worked on for the entire year – “almost like a thesis,” Currier said.
Assistant Principal Teresa Coursey said she was very excited about the accreditation of the International Baccalaureate program. “I truly feel that great things are accomplished by talented people, and that this was accomplished because of our talent at Charter Oak.”
The International Baccalaureate program has its own curriculum structure, which tracks perfectly with Charter Oak’s designation as a magnet school offering a global academy experience. The curriculum is explained in detail on Charter Oak’s website, and incorporates five essential elements – concepts, knowledge, skills, attitudes, and action – into transdisciplinary themes of global significance.
Charter Oak describes its new curriculum as follows: “The International Baccalaureate® Primary Years Program (PYP) is designed for students aged 3 to 12. Charter Oak International Academy serves students from grades Pre-K through 5th. The program focuses on the total growth of the developing child, touching hearts as well as minds and encompassing social, physical, emotional and cultural needs in addition to academic development. At the heart of the program’s philosophy is a commitment to structured, purposeful inquiry as the leading vehicle for learning.”
The celebration was highlighted by musical performances by Charter Oak International Academy students, as well as an overview of what it means to be an International Baccalaureate school. Food was donated by local restaurants.
Principal Thompson credited the passion of the staff and parents for this celebration of the International Baccalaureate designaton. “This could not have been done without the support of the board and the superintendent,” said Thompson.