Supporters tout benefits of planned Dexter High School International Baccalaureate program
Dexter High School is on track to adopt the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme for 11th and 12-graders in the 2012-13 school year, and Monday parents got a chance to learn more about it. The program had been considered for next school year but last fall, Superintendent Mary Marshall, along with members of the school board, agreed to take an additional year of planning to implement the program.
The program provides a curriculm, which its website describes as "an academically challenging and balanced program ... that prepares students ... for success at university and life beyond." On Monday night, I.B. trained teachers, alumni of I.B. programs and an undergraduate admissions counselor and a professor from the University of Michigan participated in a round-table discussion at the high school.
"To have I.B. as an option is a benefit to our district," Marshall told the audience of about 50 people.
I.B. Diploma Programme coordinator Kim Lund, chairwoman of world languages at Dexter high school and a trained teacher in I.B. French, said that prior to teaching, she was an engineer who traveled around the world.
"Employers look for well-rounded employees with perspective," she said. "I.B. is for students who want to know how things work and why they are the way they are."
She said that in the I.B. foreign language program, there are no textbooks. Students learn from poems and song lyrics.
"You learn in context," she explained. "Students might have to write a brochure or have a debate. It mimics how we learn our first language."
Advanced placement mathematics teacher Dewey Scott said I.B. mathematics has more focus on probability and statistics than regular math, as well as a big focus on vectors (geometric objects that have both length and direction,) but does not go into as much depth as AP calculus.
AP U.S. history teacher Angela Chea, who is trained to teach I.B. world history, said I.B. is for students who are curious and motivated to learn new things.
"I grew up in a community with little diversity, and when I went to college many ideas shocked me," she said. "But I embraced the experience and traveled and studied foreign languages. A lot of students in Dexter haven't been exposed to ideas and people from other backgrounds. I.B. will open other options for them."
University of Michigan undergraduate student Ethan Stockdale was an I.B. diploma recipient in high school and said that taking I.B. classes is similar to being in college.
"In I.B., we analyzed and compared and contrasted things and it required more critical thinking," he said. "It helped me meet people interested in more academic things. C.A.S. (the Creativity, Action and Service component of the I.B. Diploma Programme) forced me to work with other people."
Moira Poe, an undergraduate admissions counselor at the University of Michigan, explained that when she reviews Dexter applicants, she compares them with other Dexter applicants, not with applicants from other schools, and looks for how students challenge themselves as well as how they do in their courses.
Michael Makin, a professor of slavic languages and literature at U-M and a Dexter parent, was adamant about the benefits of the I.B. program. He said it teaches students good writing skills and prepares them to ask good questions and not just reiterate information.
"Ultimately it is up to the undergraduate to find his or her own way," Makin told the audience. "I.B. prepares a student extremely well to find their way. You will do very well at a school like U of M if you do I.B."
The roundtable was recorded and will be posted on the Dexter High School I.B. website.