Leroy Drive Elementary first to achieve IB program

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Before retiring this year as principal of Leroy Drive Elementary in Northglenn, Jill Roth had one major goal to accomplish.

After a rigorous application process, she hoped to have full authorization from the International Baccalaureate Organization to offer the IB Primary Years Programme at her school. Her goal was met this school year and now Leroy Drive is the only elementary school in the Adams 12 Five Star Schools District to offer an IB program to elementary aged students.

“It’s been bittersweet. I’m thrilled that this is in place and that was my goal to make sure this was up and going before I retired,” Roth said. “I feel very confident with our the coordinator and the teachers’ knowledge that they have it and can continue on. I have trust in them.”

The application process began during the 2009-10 school year. It wasn’t until last December that the school was notified of full authorization. The IB Primary Years Programme is for students ages three to 12 and focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both in the classroom and in the world outside.

Bianca Porter, Primary Years Programme coordinator at Leroy Drive, said the inquiry-based programme also focuses on reflection and action, teaching students to be thinkers and communicators, internationally-minded and knowledgeable. As an inquiry-based programme, Porter said the teachers are now teaching transdisciplinary lessons, linking different subjects and skills together, no longer teaching in different segments for each subject.

“I meet with each grade level to help them write their units of inquiry and reflect with the teachers upon their units,” she said. “Many times teachers teach and teach but never have time to reflect. But there is a whole reflection component with the programme for the teachers.”

Currently in Adams 12 there is an IB programme at Century Middle School, the International School at Thornton Middle and at Thornton High School. Thornton High School is also offering the middle years programme for students in ninth and 10th grades as well. Roger Dowd, Adams 12 district director of advanced academic and gifted services, said with the addition of the primary years programme, the district now has an IB continuum for all grade levels.

“We also have three more elementary schools in the candidacy phase right now, Coronado Hills, Thornton Elementary and McElwain Elementary,” he said.

Dowd said the district is very proud of the work the staff has put in at Leroy Drive to reach full authorization. He said now students are learning to see things from other perspectives and are given opportunities to make connections around the world.

“Teachers can also network with other IB sites and make connections and share lessons and ideas,” he said. “Students are leaning to become better problem solvers and better thinkers through a focus on inquiry and transdisciplinary learning.”

The students and staff of Leroy Drive Elementary are hosting an authorization and 50th anniversary celebration and welcome the public to attend. The celebration is from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on May 9 at the school, 1451 Leroy Drive. For more information on the IB Primary Years Programme at Leroy Drive, visit http://leroy.adams12.org.