North Pointe School in Southgate launched an International Baccalaureate program for Kindergarten to Grade 4 this fall to create lifelong learners who are compassionate people who respect and celebrate differences.
The goal of the International Baccalaureate or IB program is to educate children to love learning, to ask questions and to be compassionate. It strives to promote a better and more peaceful world by promoting respect for other cultures and celebrating those differences.
Lambert Okma, 72, of Bloomfield Hills, a consultant with extensive IB experience who is working with Southgate Community School District to develop the curriculum, said he was working with Superintendent Sharon Irvine to strengthen the district.
“It’s moving forward on a variety of fronts, even things like signage on buildings to make a better impression and improve the look of buildings, and improve sports programs,” he said. “She really wants to make Southgate a top district in the Downriver area.”
Okma said Irvine knows about the IB curriculum and wants to use it as the centerpiece of his school district rejuvenation.
He said North Pointe Elementary School, 18635 Bowie St., which closed a few years ago, was chosen to launch an IB program for kindergarten through fourth grade.
“There’s a pretty rigorous application process,” Okma said. “With IB, you have to go through a full authorization process, with multiple steps, including the visit, and you have a consultant assigned to you,” he said. “So they’re at the application stage, where they’re an applicant school, and eventually you can become a full IB program.”
He said North Pointe is an elementary school program.
“The IB really took off after World War II, when these international schools around the world ended up with students from multiple countries,” Okma said. “Before World War II, most international schools served a single client population.”
He said that initially students would be taught in the language of the dominant culture and with the methods of the host country.
“So after World War II things started to change and the schools were international in the sense that they had multiple clients,” Okma said. “So now you could have Americans, Germans, British, French, Spanish and Brazilians, all a mix with the internationalization that we’ve all experienced.”
He said the IB needed a curriculum and a testing system so that its students could be recognized and able to enroll at university in their home country.
Okma said the testing system would be used in countries other than the United States to determine which higher education system students could be accepted into.
He said heads of IB schools then had to develop a curriculum for their students which, regardless of their nationality, would lead to an exam and grade which they could use to apply to a university in the country of their choice.
“So the IB is a program and a way of teaching and a way of organizing a school, with an exam at the end, called the IB Diploma,” Okma said.
He said elementary and middle school programs can accommodate children with special needs, while the high school curriculum is academically challenging.
Okma said the IB program specializes in inquiry methodology, where the whole process of education is based on exploration, research and drawing conclusions.
He said that a unit is designed with a question in mind, for which a teacher will set up a series of learning experiences for the students, which will lead them to discover the solution to the question posed.
“It’s more heavily based on thinking based on analysis and research, as opposed to absorbing existing information,” Okma said. “The IB is very holistic in its educational approach, so it tries to train children to be thinkers, researchers and excellent writers, but also to have a set of interpersonal skills.”
He said they have a learner profile, which is a set of personal characteristics that IB schools use for character development, including being a risk taker, being principled and being balanced in life. .
“It’s holistic and it emphasizes reflection and analysis, and it’s also international in the sense that the program exposes students to a global program experience,” Okma said. “A second language is mandatory.”
In addition to learning a second language, there is exposure to the history, culture, music, and literature of the language.
At the elementary level, Spanish is usually the second language taught, and North Pointe has a full-time Spanish teacher.
He said that if the program thrives at Southgate, it could be extended to college and possibly the high school diploma program. Another option would be to continue the IB program in North Pointe as a preschool through eighth grade.
Southgate accepts students from other cities under the Schools of Choice option, so the IB program will be an available option for out-of-district students.
“Obviously they want to primarily serve their existing population, but they want to be able to add programs and add expertise, and to do that they want to be able to increase their enrollment by bringing in students,” he said. declared. “So the IB continuum will be part of attracting students to Southgate.”
Okma said the IB program empowers students to succeed, thrive and make a positive difference for themselves as well as their families, communities and countries.
“It really puts them in a position to have multiple options that they can move forward with in their lives,” he said. “There’s really nothing to hold them back.”