Park City Day School on track to become an International Baccalaureate and Round Square school
On the walls of the Park City Day School is the phrase “to prepare and inspire students to lead great and giving lives.” It is the mission of the school, and the words that drove Head of School Ian Crossland to pursue additional accreditations for the institution.
This fall, Park City Day School was named a candidate school for the International Baccalaureate program. The candidacy is for the school’s lower grades from kindergarten through fifth grade. The school was also recently announced as a candidate school for the Round Square program. Crossland said the accreditations would enhance the school’s curriculum and provide more international opportunities for students.
The International Baccalaureate program, also known as IB, uses a multi-disciplinary approach to teach core concepts. It is used in schools around the globe, but Park City Day School is one of a handful of schools in the state on the path of accreditation, said Melanie Ogan-Pickens, spokesperson for the school. Round Square is another international program that connects schools around the globe through resources and events.
Park City Day School has two and a half years to roll out the IB program in the lower school. The school will then undergo an evaluation to receive its full accreditation status, Crossland said. The school plans to apply for candidacy for its middle school program this year.
The school began looking into both the IB and Round Square programs around the time that Crossland stepped into his role in the summer of 2017. He said both programs align with Park City Day School’s values. He also has experience helping Colegio Los Nogales in Colombia, where he served as head of school, become a Round Square school.
The lower school plans to jump into IB at the start of the new year, after the school’s staff undergoes a two-day training with an IB trainer over winter break. Teachers will learn about the IB curriculum, which is organized into components called units of inquiry. The units are centered on questions, which are weaved into lessons across disciplines.
“Our work is to take these big ideas and fit our curriculum into that,” he said.
Brad McCutcheon, the lower school director, said the IB program should not be a major shift for the school, because so many of IB’s principles already line up with Park City Day School. But, he said, it provides the school with research-proven curriculum, which will elevate the learning environment.
He is excited to see more cross-disciplinary projects and partnership with schools around the world.
“If they are studying Africa, they can get on Skype with a school in Africa that also does IB, and they can have that common language and partnership,” he said.
There is an annual membership fee to be a part of IB, as well as fees for supplies and training. Crossland said the school is using its fund for professional development to go toward IB teacher training.
“We feel like it is a really good investment in enhancing the quality of our education,” he said.
The school is also pursuing accreditation from Round Square, an international organization of schools that organizes conferences and student exchanges.
Park City Day School first became involved in Round Square after it was invited to participate in an exchange last school year. Park City Day School hosted students from Bogota, Colombia, and Park City students traveled to Colombia for a conference.
The school will be a candidate for the program for about two years, after which it will apply to be a global member of Round Square. The program emphasizes experiential learning and is led by the motto, “There is more in you than you think.” The program’s ideals include democracy, environmentalism, leadership and service, among others.
“Round Square was a really natural fit, because our school has always been cut from the same cloth,” Crossland said.
Jessie Levesque, an English and communications teacher at the school, said she was ecstatic to get the news at the end of November that Park City Day School had been approved as a Round Square candidate. She is a proponent of experiential learning, which she said will be taught through student exchanges and other experiences.
“What can bring something to life more than being in the middle of it?” she said. “I think it’s just going to make us better at what we do.”
She will help lead a service and environmentalism-themed trip to the Galapagos Islands with two other Round Square schools in February. Park City Day School will also be participating in a student exchange, as it welcomes students from Colegio Los Nogales and sends some middle school students to the Colombian school.
The school is also invited to a Round Square conference in England in the summer.
Crossland said Round Square and IB will help the school accomplish its mission, because it connects the school to institutions around the world. He said implementing the new programs at the same time will be challenging, but less so because of their shared values. The difference is that IB is focused on curriculum and Round Square is more about the social-emotional development of students, he said.
“We want our students to leave here prepared, and inspired. And to prepare and inspire them we have to challenge them, we have to put them in different contexts, we have to give them opportunities to fail, to experience different things and be nervous about it,” he said.
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