For the past 11 years, Parkland High School has been the destination for Forsyth County students pursuing an International Baccalaureate diploma. Now, school officials are working to broaden Parkland’s horizons with an additional IB program aimed at students pursuing career-related education.
Parkland is starting the application process to become certified for IB’s Career-related Programme, with plans to offer the course track designed for juniors and seniors to the first class of 11th-grade students in the 2017-18 school year.
More often than not, the IB Diploma Programme has attracted a certain kind of student — driven, self-motivated.
“They’re (the kids) who want to be doctors, lawyers,” said Laurel Lokant, Parkland’s IB coordinator and IB French teacher.
Many students, who don’t necessarily fit that mold, incorrectly assume that IB is closed to them, Lokant said.
In an effort to change perceptions, Parkland is trying to bring more students under the IB umbrella.
“We want to make sure all students interested in IB have the opportunity to access it,” Principal Spencer Hardy said.
Searching for students
First, Lokant reached out to current sophomores who were not pursuing the Diploma Programme in their junior year but had been identified as good candidates for the rigorous, college-preparatory curriculum.
All 78 of those students signed up for the Diploma Programme next year.
There are still students, though, who won’t be interested in the commitment of the full Diploma Programme, or who already have an interest in a specific career — or technical-education track.
That’s where the Career-related Programme fits. Students choose two Diploma Programme courses, but they complete different core coursework that includes a course on personal and professional skills.
They also investigate an ethical issue and participate in a service learning project. They can take a deeper dive into a specific career-field, like information technology or JROTC.
Parkland has also begun the process of training all of its teachers, in all grades, in IB teaching methods. Every Parkland student will be introduced to IB principles in ninth grade, which Hardy said will hopefully translate into more students interested in one of the IB tracks by the time they reach their junior year.
“We recognized the strategies and methods used for IB are just good teaching,” Hardy said. “Why not have that available for all our students, not just a select few?”
Hardy said the hope is that eventually all Parkland students will be choosing one of the two IB tracks to follow.
Nearly 100 interested
For now, though, the school will be pleased to start the Career-related Programme with about 60 students in the 2017-18 school year and grow from there. As the program grows, so, too, will the number of career fields from which students can choose.
Already, an informal survey of current freshmen — the first class that will be eligible for the Career-related Programme — turned up nearly 100 interested students.
School officials presented the plan to the school board’s curriculum committee earlier this month. Board members gave Parkland the green light to move forward with the application.
“Go for it,” said Lori Clark, the committee chairwoman. “We are behind you.”
Because Parkland is already an IB school, adding the second program will not be as rigorous as opening an entirely new site — a process that often takes three or more years.
The Career-related Programme is the latest offered by the International Baccalaureate organization. Underpinning each of the four IB tracks is a globally focused education grounded in academic rigor and stressing each student’s personal development. Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools previously offered the Primary Years Programme at Ashley Elementary School, but it was removed in 2014. Eventually, school system officials hope to reopen that program at Speas Elementary School.
The Middle Years Programme, for students in sixth through 10th grades, is offered at Paisley IB Magnet School.
Once the Speas’ program opens, students will have the option to participate in IB at various levels — from taking a single IB course in high school to completing the entire IB continuum from elementary though graduation.