International program makes students better thinkers, communicators - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

International program makes students better thinkers, communicators

August 17, 2004

Albany-In Kathia Belgrave-Alex's Spanish class, first graders are starting out with the alphabet song.

But speaking the language will become an important part of their elementary education. That's part of the deal when they sign up for the international magnet school.

"We're trying to make sure that when they step outside the classroom, that wherever they go, their learning will be valid there and they will be able to apply," said Laytona Stephenson, the International Baccalaureate Coordinator.

More than 700 students applied this year and there's a waiting list. About 100 more students will have the opportunity to come to the school during the year.

The school is phasing in an international baccalaureate curriculum, and that means much more foreign language studies, but it also means different learning techniques like more group work, brainstorming and reflection on the knowledge they're gaining.

"They should be able to look back and know within themselves and what it meant to them," Principal Wanda Mallard.

More than half the students here are children of Marines, so some of them came from overseas schools.

"And when they come in to us, we want to be able to add on to what they've experienced and we want to let that grow some," Mallard said.

Coming here is similar to other magnet programs in Dougherty County because the lessons move faster and students, even as small as these, sign contracts they and their parents are held to.

So right now they're learning what to call their mouths, noses and heads in Spanish. But everything they're storing in their brains will turn them into more worldly adults.

posted at 11:06 p.m. by brannon.stewart@walb.com