ESSEX, MD—Stemmers Run Middle School has become the first Baltimore County public school authorized by the International Baccalaureate as an IB World School for the Middle Years Programme (MYP).
In a letter to Principal Bryan Thanner, IB’s Director General Siva Kumari wrote, “As an IB World School offering the MYP, you are part of a global community of schools committed to developing knowledgeable, caring young people who will be ready to negotiate their futures successfully and make contributions resulting in a more harmonious and peaceful world. We commend your school’s educators, administrators, students and families for their active roles in choosing to offer the MYP. The positive results of this choice will become evident in your community as classes of MYP students graduate and undertake activities that enhance social, cultural and economic environments locally, nationally and, perhaps, internationally.”
Thanner explains that MYP enriches instruction for every Stemmers Run student.
“We still implement the Baltimore County Public Schools curriculum,” Thanner said. “MYP is a layer we put on top, bringing in global perspectives and real-world relevance to every subject area. MYP is inclusive of every student in the school, at every level. It is how we teach. We have already seen it improve engagement and rigor.”
Two other aspects of MYP are particularly noteworthy, according to Thanner. “IB requires that we explicitly teach skills, like collaboration, that students will need for success,” he said. “It also requires a strong character education program that culminates with every Grade 8 student planning and implementing a community service project.” The projects range widely, based on students’ interests – from marker and toothbrush recycling to food drives and volunteering at animal shelters.
“Seeing what middle school students are able to do through service gives them a lot of perspective and helps them realize their ability to make change,” Thanner said.
The process to become authorized by the IB started three years ago and involved the entire Stemmers Run Middle community.
“It began,” Thanner said, “with completing a candidate school application that was more than 75 pages long. In it, we needed to demonstrate that our school had the ability to implement the program. After being accepted as a candidate school, we then needed to implement the program and train staff for the next two years. The training requirements were significant. During the second year, the IB sent a team of representatives to Stemmers Run to determine if the school should be authorized. They spent two days in the school, meeting with every department, parent groups, and central office administrators.”
The IB is a highly rigorous academic program focused on critical and independent thinking and logical inquiry. It is offered in almost 5,000 schools globally in more than 150 countries. The MYP is described by the IB as “a challenging framework that encourages students to make practical connections between their studies and the real world.” It prepares students for the Diploma Programme (DP), which is offered in Baltimore County Public Schools at Kenwood High School (an IB World School for the DP), for which Stemmers Run Middle is a feeder school.
“The Diploma Programme is an advanced program,” Thanner explained, “only open to students who qualify for it. It is our hope that the MYP at Stemmers Run will help all students learn more about IB and encourage more students who qualify to pursue the Diploma Programme.”
International studies programs, based on the IB framework, are also offered at Wellwood International and Woodmoor elementary schools, Middle River and Windsor Mill middle schools, and New Town High School.