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World-Class Education

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When a first grade class at Peachtree Elementary School noticed that a storm drain at their school was covered with debris, they took action and cleared it to protect the environment. (Courtesy of Peachtree Elementary School.)

IB Programme takes local schools to an international level

Several Gwinnett Public Schools in Peachtree Corners offer an innovative, challenging program to eligible students — the prestigious International Baccalaureate® (IB) Programme. The Programme is respected world-wide and has become a factor in drawing corporate interest and talent to the area.

Developed in 1968, the IB Programme was designed to establish preparatory school standards recognized by European universities and to prepare students for higher-level studies. The program has been in authorized American schools since 1980.

What’s different about the program is that it promotes inquiry and encourages students to think critically and challenge assumptions. And it’s cohesive. Courses in the IB Programme don’t stand alone; critical thinking builds between subjects and looks at the whole curriculum. This approach encourages students to consider subjects in local, national and global contexts.

Peachtree Elementary School was authorized as an IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) school in May 2010. It was one of the first public elementary schools to achieve authorization in Georgia.

Brian Ginley, IB Coordinator at Peachtree Elementary, explained that the IB Programme is a framework for organizing curriculum and instructional practices. Designed for students aged 3-12, the PYP challenges students to think for themselves and take responsibility for their learning as they investigate local and global issues.

“It’s not a specific curriculum,” he said. “Peachtree Elementary organizes the Gwinnett County Academic Knowledge and Skills in transdisciplinary units that are conceptually based. The PYP promotes the use of inquiry as an instructional tool to foster student questioning and taking ownership of their learning.”

Earning the authorization created a continuum from Peachtree Elementary to the Middle Years Programme at Pinckneyville Middle School and Norcross High School, and the Diploma Programme at Norcross High School. That means students can attend classes in the IB Programme from Kindergarten through 12th grade to earn an IB diploma, which is recognized and respected by the world’s leading universities.

IB students at Norcross High School (Math Class) Courtesy of Gwinnett County Public Schools

Sloan Roach, Gwinnett County Public Schools Executive Director of Communication and Media Relations, said that Norcross High School began offering the IB Programme in 1999 as a means of providing additional rigor to its students.

“As a leading International Baccalaureate school, Norcross High offers the Diploma Programme and Middle Years Programme,” Roach explained. “Both Pinckneyville and Summerour middle schools participate in the Middle Years Programme and Peachtree Elementary offers the Primary Years Programme, providing a K-12 IB opportunity for students in the Norcross Cluster.” The school system also offers IB opportunities in the Shiloh Cluster, she added.

Students at Norcross High School who participate in the IB Programme throughout their school experience have an extremely high success rate when compared to the state, national and world passage rates, according to Roach. “At Norcross in May 2018, 95% of our students received a passing score on IB exams compared to 61% in Georgia, 69% in the U.S. and 78% in the world,” she said.

Norcross High Principal Will Bishop and his IB team shared their insights. They said that students who have been through the IB Programme, when they return from college, report how well prepared they are compared to their classmates, even those who are going to elite colleges.

“They believe they’re getting a top-notch education at Norcross High School,” they said. “Like the students, parents feel that their children are well prepared to perform at top-level colleges. They believe critical thinking applies to life beyond school.”

And what do the teachers think about the IB program? Teachers enjoy the inquiry approach to learning. “I make the doing easy, but the thinking hard,” said teacher Natalie Dixon.

The community at large benefits, too. As sophomores, Norcross High students have the opportunity to complete a personal project. In fact, several projects have turned into events that improve local communities, such as the Blue Devil Run.

The IB Programme PYP also encourages elementary school students to take action and make positive differences. Ginley gave an example from one of Peachtree Elementary’s first-grade classes.

“This spring, during a recess, the students observed that the storm drain was covered by debris from a recent rain. They wondered if this might have a negative effect on animals,” he said. “The students took action by clearing the debris from the storm drain. This is just one example of our students looking to make Peachtree Elementary and our world a better place for all.” ■

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Education

Record number of Cornerstone Students Qualify for Duke TIP

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Half of the 7th grade students at Cornerstone Christian Academy in Peachtree Corners qualified for the highly selective Duke University Talent Identification Program (Duke TIP). That’s the highest number of qualifying students in school history.

The Duke TIP supports academically talented students in grades 4 through 12. The non-profit organization offers above-grade-level testing, enrichment resources, residential summer programs, online courses and more. To qualify, students must score at or above the 95th percentile on accepted tests.

Twenty-seven students are being recognized. Congratulations go to: Sean Balderas, Landon Clement, Jack Coates, Ella Floyd, Rayna Garland, Hannah Gartin, Alice Griffin, Madeline House, Julia Jackovich, Melina Jackson (not pictured), Ethan Lewis, Philip Liebenberg, Alana Magley, Jack Merrill, Matthew Mitchell, Parker Moore, Eleanor Moran, JJ Neeb, Andrew Schemmel, Connor Schenke, Manuel Schlicht, Patrick Stephens, Emily Wallace, Lizzie West, Allie West, Kendall White and Caroline Yates.

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Education

Meet New York Times Bestselling Author Karen Abbott

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Karen Abbott is the author of Sin in the Second City, American Rose, and Liar Temptress Soldier Spy, which was named one of the best books of 2014 by Library Journal, Christian Science Monitor, and Amazon. She has written for The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, newyorker.com, and other publications. Her next book, The Ghosts of Eden Park, tells the story of “the Bootleg King, the women who pursued him, and the murder that shocked jazz-age America.”

Join Gwinnett County Public Library and meet Karen Abbott on Friday, August 30 at 7:00 pm at the Peachtree Corners Branch, 5570 Spalding Drive, Peachtree Corners, GA 30092. Free and open to the public.

For more information, please visit www.gwinnettpl.org or call 770-978-5154.

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Arts

Photo/Video Workshop for Kids: From Shutterbug to Social Media Influencer

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Date:  Thursday  August 29, 2019

Location: City Hall

Time: 6 to 9 pm

Level:  All levels

Ages: 8 to 18 (Parents welcome to join as well) Must live or work in Peachtree Corners.

In this seminar for youth (and their parents), we will be discussing the basics of modern photography and video production – the tools, the techniques, and the costs of equipment, software, and training. We will also be discussing how to create compelling images and video for school, competition or social media. We will take a real look at the opportunities and the dangers of social media and how to best protect your children if they are producing content for social media.

We will have an extended Q&A session with professional photographers and filmmakers as well as social media experts. For questions or to register contact Jim Stone at jstone@tytancreates.com

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