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April 7, 2017

 

Indianapolis
Public Schools prides itself on being a leader in innovative urban education,
and part of that innovation includes having schools that offer different and
unique approaches to learning.

 

There’s the
Reggio approach at Butler University Laboratory School 60, where students are
engaged in project-based learning through topics of interest.Sonja Clark, Shortridge parent

 

The Montessori
Method is used at Francis W. Parker School 56, George Washington Carver School
87 and Rousseau McClellan School 91, where students learn through hands-on, self-directed
activities.

 

And at five
IPS schools, students are being educated through the International
Baccalaureate (IB) program. The district’s four Center
for Inquiry

locations (CFI School 2, 27, 70 and 84) and Shortridge
International Baccalaureate High School
are all IB schools.

 

It’s
actually what attracted Indianapolis parent Sonja Clark to Shortridge.

 

“I like to say that (IB) is a humane way to
get a rigorous education,” says Clark, a Shortridge parent and the school’s PTSA
vice president.

 

The IB
program was founded in 1968 by the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO), a non-profit educational organization
based in Geneva, Switzerland. IB offers four different and highly respected “programmes”
of international education that develop the intellectual, personal, emotional
and social skills needed to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world.

 

Shortridge,
under the leadership of Principal Shane O’Day, is the only IPS high school
dedicated to the IB philosophy. While a
number of other high schools, including some in Indianapolis, house an IB
program in their school, they do so in addition to offering Core 40, AP and honors
choices.

 

Clark
prefers a school where everyone receives the same academic program and diploma.

 

“Shortridge can implement the IB program the
way it’s supposed to be implemented because IB is the only program in the
school,” said Clark. “Shortridge doesn’t try to fit its program into a larger
school, with other competing objectives that make it harder on the student and
teachers.”

 

When
exploring high schools for her son Thomas, now a sophomore at Shortridge, Clark
said North Central High School (located in the Washington Township district,
where the Clark family lives) was a brief consideration. Her other two children
(Benjamin, eighth grade, and Vivian, sixth grade) attend The Orchard School,
the only other school the Clark children have attended.

 

“I knew Shortridge was the right fit for many
reasons. With just under 400 students, the size is just right, not too big or
small. Block scheduling allows the students to go into more depth instead of
wasting so much time during the day transitioning. We also love that the day
starts at 9 a.m.”

 

The entire IB program is defined as being more practical
and application-based. It’s divided into three stages — the Primary Years Programme
(PYP) for Grades K-5, the Middle Years Programme (MYP) for Grades 6-10, and the
Diploma Programme (DP) for Grades 11 and 12 — that have a broad spectrum of
subjects designed to lead to all-around development.

 

Even the IB exams are different than in most schools. The exams are designed
to test a students’ knowledge and not their memory or speed. The goal of the IB
curriculum is to focus on “how to learn” rather than “what to learn.”

 

The purpose of IB is to produce global citizens. “Mr. O’Day really focuses on what’s best for
the students,” says Clark. “The school counselors start preparing parents and
students for college during their freshman year. It’s so helpful, especially
with your first college-bound kid. “

 

Overall,
Clark is pleased with her school choice.

 
“I love the
school culture of being surrounded by diverse students who are also driven to
learn and go to college,” said Clark. “The challenge of the IB is
in the quality of assignments, and not in the amount of homework assigned. The long-term projects they are required to
do really helps them prepare for the rigor of college.”