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Ogden elementary school earns International Baccalaureate ‘World School’ designation

By Rob Nielsen - | May 21, 2024

Photo supplied

An undated photo of Liberty Elementary School in Ogden.

OGDEN — A local elementary school officially has been affixed with a prestigious title after years of work.

In a press release, the Ogden School District announced that Liberty Elementary School is now a fully accredited International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program.

“This prestigious accreditation recognizes Liberty Elementary’s dedication to fostering a globally-minded learning environment and providing students with a comprehensive, inquiry-based education,” the release said. “Liberty Elementary now joins an elite group of schools around the world that have earned the IB World School status. The International Baccalaureate program at Liberty Elementary offers students a unique and enriching educational experience, emphasizing critical thinking, intercultural understanding, and global engagement. Through the IB curriculum, students will develop the skills and attributes necessary to thrive in an increasingly interconnected world, including communication, collaboration, and empathy.”

Lindsey Werner, PYP coordinator at Liberty Elementary School, told the Standard-Examiner that the International Baccalaureate, or IB, program is utilized worldwide.

“It was first started in Europe for international (students) that wanted to go to prestigious universities in America and Europe,” she said. “It started as a high school program, and then as they were in this rigorous program getting these kids ready for all of these things, they realized they needed to build a pathway.”

She said IB created programs for each level of schooling, including the Primary Years Program at the elementary level.

“The Primary Years Program is early years to sixth grade — the elementary program,” she said. “The whole purpose of it is to teach kids to interact and become contributing members of society. We don’t know what kinds of jobs and careers they’re going to encounter. What we can do is we can teach children how to learn, how to problem solve, how to think critically and how to act in appropriate ways that make their communities a better place.”

Liberty Elementary School Principal Keeli Espinoza told the Standard-Examiner the school has spent two years implementing and running the program.

“At Liberty, it’s really changed the way our teachers teach and our students learn every day,” she said. “The curriculum that typically is like language, arts, math and science in siloed areas are now integrated within units. Students are able to read articles, do science and math based on a unit of inquiry or units based on a theory they’re working on.”

IB programs in Ogden are not exclusive to Liberty Elementary. Mount Ogden Middle School has been working on implementing the Middle Years Program into its curriculum, and Ogden High School offers IB-affiliated classes as well.

Espinoza said there’s a major difference between how IB has been introduced into the Ogden High curriculum versus at Liberty.

“It’s a whole-school model approach at Liberty,” she said. “At Ogden High, students can choose to take IB (classes). ”

She said it is possible for students outside of the school’s designated boundaries to participate.

“Our school is open to students who want to come here,” she said. “They would come on a boundary exception if they were not part of our neighborhood school boundaries. We actually do have quite a few students who elect to come to Liberty as part of our Advanced Learning Program.”

Espinoza said the change has had a dramatically positive effect on the students.

“It makes my heart happy the way education has changed for our students,” she said. “They approach coming to school in a different way. They are inquiring about the world around them. They’ll ask questions about, ‘Why does this happen?’ And they’ll really try to find out the answer. They’re more engaged with how their learning can apply to other areas of their lives. It’s been a really great shift.”

Werner said the program will empower students.

“We aren’t just teaching kids specific skills or content. We are teaching kids how to learn for themselves, advocate for themselves and be an active participant in whatever community they’re in,” she said.

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