Northville High School, Hillside Middle School and Meads Mill Middle School have been authorized by the prestigious International Baccalaureate (IB) Organization as IB World Schools offering the Middle Years Program for all Northville students in sixth through 10th grade beginning with the 2014-15 school year. The IB Middle Years Program provides a framework of academic challenge that encourages students to embrace and to understand the connections between traditional subjects and the real world, by becoming critical and reflective thinkers.
The news of the school district’s IB Middle Years Program authorization comes on the heels of the announcement in May that Northville High School is authorized to offer the IB Diploma Program for highly motivated 11th and 12th graders, also beginning with the 2014-15 school year.
“This unique and innovative approach to learning through the IB Middle Years and Diploma Programs means our middle and high school students and teachers are part of an unparalleled global network committed to developing knowledgeable, caring young people who are equipped to succeed in the 21st century and who have the tremendous potential to make the world a better place for future generations,” said Northville Public Schools Superintendent Mary Kay Gallagher. “These authorizations are the culmination of a multi-year initiative on the part of the entire school district that is a testament to the hard work of our students, staff, and leadership at Northville High School, Hillside Middle School, and Meads Mill Middle School.”
Rather than inviting participation in IB to those students interested in the Diploma Program — designed for academically talented high school juniors and seniors — Northville Public Schools has chosen to impact all learners through the IB Middle Years Program beginning in sixth grade at the district’s two middle schools and continuing through 10th grade at Northville High School.
The Middle Years Program (MYP) emphasizes intellectual, physical, social, and emotional growth through all domains of knowledge and prompts students to understand how they learn and to connect and apply that learning. Students study in eight subject areas — English language arts, a world language, social studies, sciences, math, the arts, physical education, and technology. Teachers organize the curriculum through units which emphasize inquiry through global contexts. Global contexts provide the framework for learning and give relevance and meaning to that learning. In their capstone 10th grade year, MYP students also undertake a “personal project” that allows them to demonstrate the understanding and skills developed throughout the Middle Years Program.
“The Middle Years Program strengthens learning across the domains of knowledge, while supporting the development of a strong learner profile with experiences that require students to understand themselves as learners, apply their learning, and to consider multiple perspectives to strengthen their understanding of complex issues,” said Northville IB Middle Years Coordinator Janice Henderson. “Students of today need to be able to see an issue from a variety of perspectives, collaborate as members of a global community, and be moved to action by the ‘big ideas’ from their learning that will influence their thinking 30 years from now.”
The district’s work toward authorization of the IB Diploma and Middle Years Programs also has included an in-depth course of professional development over the past four years for teachers at the middle and high school levels that strengthens their skill sets as educators as they develop IB units of study and begin sharing them with students. In addition, IB offers teachers the opportunity to be part of an international network of experts leading the field of education.
“We are truly fortunate to have a team of exceptionally talented and devoted educators and school district leaders who have worked tirelessly to bring the IB framework and philosophy alive for our students in the classroom,” Gallagher said. “We also are grateful to the Northville Educational Foundation who provided the significant funding that made this journey possible, along with our high school and middle school PTSAs, and Mothers’ Club of Northville for their generous support of the district’s efforts to advance our tradition of excellence and increase the opportunities available for our students.”
The IB Middle Years Program builds on the transformational The Leader in Me initiative taking root in the school district’s six elementary schools, based on Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and designed to teach leadership to students. The innovative, school-wide effort emphasizes a culture of student empowerment that helps unleash each child’s full potential. Applying the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, teachers and students internalize timeless leadership principles that nurture the skills students need for success in the 21st century.
“This is powerful work that fits hand-in-hand with the IB Middle Years Program and brings students, teachers, parents, and families together with a collective focus on learning in a way that lets loose the leadership capacity and potential within each learner,” Gallagher said.
The International Baccalaureate is a not-for-profit foundation, which offers high quality and challenging educational programs for worldwide and community schools. For more than 40 years, IB programs have gained a reputation for their high academic standards, for preparing students for life in a globalized 21st century, and for helping to develop citizens who will create a better, more peaceful world. Founded in 1968, there are currently more than 1 million IB students and 3,521 schools in 144 countries. For more information about the IB Programs at Northville Public Schools, visit the district website at http://www.northvilleschools.org/node/1165.