Phillips Preparatory is now officially the region’s only school to offer the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme.
And Phillips is one of only seven schools in Alabama to be designated as an International Baccalaureate World School with Middle Years.
With this designation, Phillips – located on Old Shell Road in Mobile – joins 1,266 schools in 108 countries offering the challenging curriculum that encourages students to think globally. The Middle Years Programme is a whole-school program with a flexible curriculum that promotes intercultural understanding, communication and holistic learning, according to the IB website.
Phillips’ faculty and students worked two and a half years to receive the designation, implementing IB standards in all classes.
Officials with International Baccalaureate, which is based in Switzerland, visited the school in November to observe classes, to interview students, educators and parents, and to decide whether Phillips would receive the designation. The officials determined whether students were being taught to be principled, caring and creative thinkers.
“They were looking for collaboration and for global mindedness,” said Principal Brenda Hartzog. “Students not only focus on what is going on here, but also what is going on outside of Mobile and outside of the United States.”
The IB Middle Years Programme is designed to prepare students for the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme – which is offered at Davidson and Murphy high schools – for college and beyond. The Diploma Programme aims to develop students who have excellent breadth and depth of knowledge – students who flourish physically, intellectually, emotionally and ethically, according to IB’s website.
Students in the IB Diploma Programme take tests their senior year that allow them to earn college credit. And colleges seek out students who have completed the program.
Council Traditional School, which feeds into Phillips, is one of only nine schools in Alabama that offers the IB Primary Years Programme.
“We teach them about the world so they can make differences and be informed globally,” said eighth-grade language arts teacher Nicol Woodbury. “We don’t just teach our students the curriculum, we show them how to use it in their everyday lives so that when they see things going on in the world they will have a point of reference.
“They’re not just listeners of the news or bystanders. They can do something.”
On Monday, Woodbury told her class they would begin reading “The Tempest.” They would bring into their study of the William Shakespeare classic the science fiction short story “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes and the poem “I’m Nobody! Who are you?” by Emily Dickinson and would eventually find their own identities through writing their own piece.
To start the lesson, students reviewed the definition of a tempest and were asked to think about – and write – how they handle stressful situations.
“I either walk away or convince myself that if I try to fix it, there will be a positive outcome for me,” one student volunteered.
“I pray, eat, sleep and listen to music,” said another.
“I blast music, really sad music, because I am an emotional but peaceful person and I do not want to take it out on anyone else,” said another.
Woodbury said the characters in the Tempest do not handle stress quite as well, which they will discover as they read the play this quarter.
“IB teaches you more about yourself so that you can have a mature mindset,” said student Noah Martin. “It teaches you how to communicate with others and it gives you a good mindset for life.”
Added classmate Molly Kate Blair: “The IB program here at Phillips is a great way to prepare us for college and life. We are learning a work ethic. I am mindful of what I need to do inside and outside of school.”