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Woodlands High School Named an IB Diploma School

The Greenburgh Central School District has been named a K-12 International Baccalaureate School District, making it one of only a handful of public schools in the country with a prestigious full continuum K-12 designation.

Woodlands Middle/High School learned immediately following the holidays that it had been approved as an International Diploma high school, which gives Greenburgh students the option of graduating with an IB diploma, and the ability to enroll in IB classes even if not pursuing that diploma. The Diploma Programme is open to any student ages 16 to 19, at schools that have been authorized to implement the program. Greenburgh’s other schools had already been following the IB Primary Years Programme (for children ages 3-12) and Middle Years Programme (ages 11-16) curriculum in grades K-8 for about the last decade.

As a High School graduating full IB Diploma-earning graduates, Woodlands will be joining a worldwide network of 4,964 IB schools offering 6,453 programs in 153 countries around the world. In the United States, 562 schools offer the Primary Years Programme, 652 offer the Middle Years Programme, and 945 offer the IB Diploma Programme.  With the recent authorization of Woodlands HS as an International Baccalaureate World School, Greenburgh is among only a handful of public districts in the country that offer IB programs in all its schools, according to David Weiss, the head of U.S. public schools for the IB Diploma Programme. Other districts include Falls Church City Public Schools in Virginia, Oberlin City Schools and Shaker Heights Schools in Ohio, and Summit Public Schools in Colorado.

 “I am so proud of our IB team here in Greenburgh for their dedication to pursuing and obtaining the IB designation,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Tahira A. DuPree Chase. “We have spent countless hours training our team of IB teachers, have traveled to other IB schools to learn more, and have become passionate about the program.”

The International Baccalaureate and the Diploma Programme enjoy a high level of respect and recognition among the world’s higher education institutions. For students, success in the IB often results in advanced standing, course credit, scholarships, and other admissions-related benefits at many universities. To teach the programs, schools must be authorized by the International Baccalaureate. Representatives of the foundation met with and visited Woodlands High School several times in the past year, including to meet with Greenburgh parents and faculty members.

Brendan Gallivan, Greenburgh’s Director of World Languages, International Baccalaureate Programs & English as a New Language Programs, called the Woodlands IB teaching team "caring, passionate and creative educators who worked as a team to develop an IB vision and plan to deliver compelling and valuable learning experiences to our Woodlands High School Students.”

The IB authoriziation, he said, means that “our high school is about to offer an internationally recognized program of excellence that prepares students to meet not only local standards of excellence,  but global standards of high academic achievement, deep multi-cultural understandings, and develops in our students the capacity to bring these understandings to problem solving, adaptation in an ever changing world, and living lives of meaningful participation in local and global communities."

The IB works with the higher education community to ensure IB students get the recognition they have earned, as well as to examine and further develop programs to make sure we continue to offer the best preparation for university studies and life beyond. The organization is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, and was founded in 1968.

Woodlands Principal Matthew Smith said the school has been studying and researching programs for three years that would provide “a higher level of rigor that not only reflects our students’ abilities, but also reflects our celebrated diversity.”

 “We are ecstatic that our application for candidacy has been approved,” he said. “We have the utmost confidence that our staff will implement our Diploma Programme with fidelity and that our students are ready to meet the academic challenges.”

 The Diploma Programme consists of core classes including Theory of Knowledge, the Extended Essay, and Creativity Activity and Service. Subject areas include studies in language and literature, language acquisition, individuals and societies, mathematics, and the arts.

In the United States, 1,725 schools offer at least one IB Programme curriculum, with 875 offering a Diploma Programme. But IB officials have informed Greenburgh that is it only one of nine schools in the U.S. with the full designation.

Steven Rounds, head of the Woodlands IB diploma program, said that the team of teachers there have been training for the curriculum for the past year, including over the summer. The first cohort of students to fully experience the IB program and be eligible to graduate with an IB diploma will be next year’s juniors, those in the Class of 2021.

“Bringing IB to Woodlands has been a collaborative effort among the faculty, staff, building and district administration, parents, and community,” said Mr. Rounds. “We are now in a position to offer our students a comprehensive, interdisciplinary, and globally-connected curriculum that will prepare them for the rigors of life in college and beyond. We are excited to get started in the fall.”

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Personnel Dr. Ronald Valenti called the full K-12 IB designation “a national achievement.”

“There are many top 10 lists in education,” he said. “But one top 10 list worth reaching is having each of Greenburgh’s K-8 buildings designated as IB schools and now offering a high school IB Diploma Program.”