Lake Forest Hills Elementary seeks IB program

Rather than just learning that quilt begins with the letter Q, Kayla Maze better understands cultures around the world.

The Lake Forest Hills Elementary kindergartner helped her classmates create a paper quilt with a series of pictures displaying the globe, a map of the United States and the people of China.

"I did the one with the Earth and the world," Kayla bragged.

Principal Sonya Bailey wants to promote global awareness among her pupils this year as she prepares to offer the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme at the school. Last month, school officials completed the first phase of the application process to offer challenging, international programs to pupils in kindergarten through fifth grade.

"Our new motto is, 'We're building a better world one student at a time,' " Bailey said. "Our focus will be opening their minds to the world and their community."

The Academy of Richmond County is the only other school in the county that offers the IB program. Once the program is authorized, Lake Forest Hills would be one of 16 public elementary schools in Georgia to offer the Primary Years Programme, according to the state Department of Education.

It takes about three years to complete the process, and the application process costs $20,000, Bailey said. The school's PTA raised $15,000 this school year to go toward the Application A process, which costs $9,500, she said. Application B will cost another $9,500, along with the cost of training certified staff, Bailey said. Training will begin later this year and will cost $25,000. Conducting the training on-site will help the school save as much as $50,000, Bailey said.

"We have gotten grants in the past to fund our Spanish and art programs," she said. "We're hoping we can raise the funds and get support behind us for this."

She said she hopes to have the funds raised, the training complete and the program authorized by 2012. The school would be able to accept applications from up to 50 out-of-zone pupils for the program.

Every pupil at Lake Forest Hills takes 30 minutes of Spanish each day, Bailey said. Teachers also incorporate other international themes into their lesson plans, she said.

An IB consultant will be assigned to the school in fall to observe and offer insight on IB curriculum.

Kindergarten teacher Catie Boyd said introducing information about international cultures and geography has already had an effect on her pupils.

"They're learning about homes around the world, and they get so excited about learning about how other people live," Boyd said.

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