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Peachtree Elementary becomes IB school

NORCROSS -- Peachtree Elementary School is taking a slightly different approach to education this year.

The Norcross cluster elementary school, which was authorized as an International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme school in May, has implemented frameworks that will lay the foundation for students to be active learners throughout their academic careers, principal Beverly Smith said.

"We use the word 'inquirers' a lot," Smith said. "Teachers have ... become familiar with the use of inquiry methods as an instructional strategy. We're designing lessons so students are more engaged in the units."

The IB Primary Years Programme is the official curriculum framework of the International Baccalaureate Organization. The program focuses on encouraging students to ask questions to make sense of their learning.

The school system's Academic Knowledge and Skills curriculum is organized within the six IB units for each grade level. The units help students link content knowledge to their prior knowledge and to their lives and the world around them. Tests at the end of each unit help students extend their learning by putting it into action.

Brian Ginley, the school's IB coordinator, said starting the Primary Years Programme has been a two-year process that involved two applications and an authorization visit. A large part of the preparation involved organizing the school system's existing curriculum into the frameworks and training teachers to understand how the frameworks work.

By becoming an authorized IB school, Peachtree Elementary can provide its students the opportunity to participate in the full IB continuum as they continue their education at Pinckneyville Middle's IB Middle Years Programme and in Norcross High's IB Diploma Programme. Summerour Middle, also in the Norcross Cluster, offers the IB Middle Years Programme.

"By the time the students get to the high school, the diploma program can be pretty rigorous," Smith said. "By laying the groundwork and the foundation for students in the Primary Years Programme, I think it really builds that muscle ... that rigor muscle."

Peachtree Elementary is the first public school in Gwinnett County to offer the IB Primary Years Programme.