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Education Desk: Changes Coming To Seminole’s Idyllwilde Elementary


Seminole County Schools is turning Idyllwilde Elementary into a magnet school. Idyllwilde is currently a Title One school, meaning it serves a large portion of low income students.

From our Education Desk, 90.7’s Catherine Welch talks with Seminole County School’s Kyle Hughes about the change. They start the conversation describing the student body.

Hughes: Idyllwilde Elementary is comprised of a higher percentage of families that are qualifying for free reduced lunch as compared some of other district schools.

Welch: And now Seminole County has received a grant to turn Idyllwilde into a magnet school, so what kind of a school is Idyllwilde looking to become?

Hughes: Idyllwilde is one of three schools that we received a grant for, the grant is through the magnet schools assistance program office which is a federal office of the federal department of education. Idyllwilde Elementary, Wicklow Elementary and Pine Crest Elementary will actually all be going through a process of going from traditional elementary schools into elementary magnet schools.

Idyllwilde Elementary will be incorporating the primary years program which is the elementary version of the International Baccalaureate program. Very exciting opportunities to infuse some high level thinking into all curriculum areas Idyllwilde Elementary starting in the 2018 - 2019 school year.

 Welch: For listeners who don't know what an International Baccalaureate is, what is that?

Hughes: The International Baccalaureate is an international organization, most people are familiar with the high school version of that program in which students earn an International Baccalaureate diploma as part of their high school graduation. But that organization also offers a middle school version of that program and an elementary school version. So the way the programs are structured and what the students get out of obviously is a little bit different from one level to another. But this is the beginning of a student going down that potential pathway of earning that high school International Baccalaureate diploma at the high school level. So this is the elementary version of that kind of getting started down that pathway of earning that International Baccalaureate diploma.

Welch: What does the IB diploma do for students who graduate from one of those magnet schools?

Hughes:  So the high school level that diploma death we carry some weight as you're getting into the competitive college selection process. A lot of institutions will look at that and kind of give the students a little bit of a second look with that type of diploma for graduation. So again, this is about starting students off at the elementary level, building on that on for success potentially down the road on the high school level.

Welch: An International Baccalaureate, or an IB school, does it look different if you walked into a classroom in Idyllwilde. In a year, how will it look different from what a classroom is now, and if so what would somebody see?

 Hughes: With any magnet program ideally what we're going do is infuse that theme throughout all of the classes. We really try to get our schools to “scream the theme.”

A good example is Hamilton Elementary that recently went through a similar grant process going from a traditional elementary school to the school of engineering technology. If you were to walk into Hamilton even right at the front office you know you really get the understanding that it's a school for engineering robotics. Then all through the hallways they've screamed that theme with the way they’ve named the hallways, the pictures that are on the walls, interactive's engineering stations on the walls.

So we'll look to do a similar process with these three schools, specifically at Idyllwilde, taking that theme and how are we infusing that theme in all elements of the school.

Now specific to the program itself, or the curriculum that is the primary years program, essentially there will be lessons developed for each grade level – kindergarten through 5th grade – that will take students through a different way to think about their learning. The process is outlined and prescribed by the primary years program. But those lessons can look different from school to school.

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