Whittier Elementary Earns IB Authorization

Whittier Elementary Earns IB Authorization
Posted on 04/22/2024

Waukegan Community Unit School District # 60 is excited to announce that Whittier Elementary School has officially been authorized as an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School. Whittier last week earned IB  Primary Years Programme (PYP) authorization, following a more than four-year process. 

The rigorous process of securing IB authorization underscores Whittier’s dedication to providing a globally-minded education that empowers students to become active, compassionate, and lifelong learners. Staff, students, and the Whittier community took considerable time to provide professional development to teachers, restructure the school day, write IB-aligned policies, meet with community members, compile evidence of growth, and host visits from the International Baccalaureate. 

“The commitment the Whittier team has shown has been remarkable. Staff and students have worked incredibly hard to make IB a reality in Waukegan, and we're excited to continue this IB journey for years to come,” said Superintendent of Schools, Theresa Plascencia. 

With this accreditation, Whittier joins a prestigious network of schools around the world recognized for globally-minded students, along with high standards of academic rigor, cultural awareness, and social responsibility. This authorization makes Whittier Lake County’s only current IB World School and one of just 21 PYP schools in Illinois.  

“I am ecstatic to see this accomplishment! Becoming an IB school represents the commitment and vision to giving students the best experiences to learn. We have overcome many obstacles to achieve this step and I look forward to the growth we will make in the upcoming years,” said Whittier Principal, Andrew Kramer.

The IB Primary Years Programme focuses on the development of the whole child, emphasizing inquiry-based learning, intercultural understanding, and the cultivation of essential skills such as critical thinking, communication, and collaboration. The Programme challenges students to think for themselves and take responsibility for their learning as they explore local and global issues and opportunities in real-life contexts. 

Whittier was named an IB candidate school in 2021. Since then staff have worked to learn what it means to be an IB World School and transform instructional practices to align. This has included writing units that are based in local and global contexts in order to be relevant for its students, implementing inquiry-based instruction, and providing Spanish instruction for every student. 

“An IB education allows students to own their learning- they provide a teacher direction through the questions they ask and interests they bring into their classroom community. They are empowered to take action as a result of their learning, which allows our students to not just be global citizens in the future, but now. This increases both motivation and sense of community, which only leads to holistic growth for our students,” said Natalie Vanlaningham, one of the IB Coordinators at Whittier.

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