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Teachers train so students can get advanced classes

Park High School is training teachers in preparation to offer the International Baccalaureate program in fall of 2010, and working to demonstrate to program officials that it has the administrative support and technology to be successful.

It's the next step in the school's application process to get approved to offer the program, which will allow juniors and seniors to take classes that can help them earn college credits.

Parents interested in finding out more about International Baccalaureate met in the school's media center, Nov. 17, to learn how it will affect their students.

Many Park teachers have already taken International Baccalaureate training at various sites across the country and more will be trained this year, according to Aaron Pozzini, English teacher and International Baccalaureate training coordinator.

"You can't buy an IB curriculum," he told parents. "It's not a matter of having the right books, but having the right goals. It's a culture."

With similar goals as AP, International Baccalaureate classes offer more in-depth study of subjects. "Classes are very writing-intensive, even art and chemistry," he said, in an interview Nov. 19. "There's more research and writing across the board."

Going beyond just taking advanced classes, students who commit to taking to taking all the required credits in the program must complete a 4,000-word essay, starting their work in 11th grade and completing it in their senior year.

There are also community service and language requirements that are not part of AP.

Students who complete the entire program can earn up to 33 college credits at the University of Minnesota and many other colleges across the country, according to principal Efe Agbamu.

But the program is not just for high achievers.

Students can take traditional classes in math and chemistry but also choose to take International Baccalaureate classes in art and music if that is their area of interest.

International Baccalaureate-trained teachers also teach traditional classes, Pozzini said, where students benefit from what their teachers have learned.

At Park, students will be encouraged to take an International Baccalaureate class and it might be the only one they will take. But it will give them a greater sense of accomplishment if they do well than if they had chosen a traditional class, Agbamu said.

"Park is a good school," she said. "The intent is to make it the best and push students beyond what they believe they are good at."

Judy Spooner can be reached at

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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