Antrim Co. Elementary School First to Earn International Baccalaureate Status

A Northern Michigan elementary school is proud to be the first in the area to achieve a special status.

Lakeland Elementary School in Elk Rapids has been working for several years to become an "International Baccalaureate" or “IB” school.

11 schools in Northern Michigan shared a $3.3 million grant they got three years ago to adopt this new curriculum.

And now, the first of the 11 earned its IB status.

“This is how you become IB: ask more questions, be curious,” said Lakeland Elementary School second-grader Jackson Garrow.

International baccalaureate curriculum teaches students to have a global perspective.

For example, now students at Lakeland Elementary start learning Spanish in preschool.

And second-grader Jackson Garrow has a new goal: “Learning how to count to 9,000 in Spanish.”

International baccalaureate brings a question-based approach to learning.

Teachers at Lakeland have been going to workshops for the past few years to rethink what they pass on to their students.

“It’s very transparent. If you look at our hallway when you enter the school, you can see we have what we call a program of inquiry,” said Elk Rapids Schools IB Coordinator Kim Ranger. “That shows a year-long view of what every classroom is exploring. It’s concept-based.”

The goal: students will make a personal investment in their education if they’re asking questions.

“Even though we’re now having a lens of accountability as a world status it’s given us I really think a worldwide lens to look at education in our building but with a small town community feel,” Lakeland Elementary School Principal Bryan McKenna said.

It’s a teaching method the district hopes will prepare them for their future jobs in an increasingly global society.

“Through six units of inquiry and it’s helped us to get kids ready for their future. We don’t know what the jobs of the future are.”

Mill Creek Elementary School in the Elk Rapids District expects to earn its IB certification soon.