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Fondren Middle School celebrated its new status as an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School on Nov. 21 with music, poetry, art, and special guest speaker James Reilly, a former NASA astronaut. Fondren joins Reagan High School and Hogg Middle School in receiving official authorization in July to offer the rigorous IB Middle Years Programme (MYP).
“IB is a totally new approach to learning for us,” said Fondren MS Principal Monique Lewis. “Teachers are teaching differently, and students are learning differently. There is more collaboration among students and more open-mindedness in general.”
The focus of the MYP at Fondren is technology, foreign languages, and applying classroom instruction to real-world events through partnerships with local and national community service organizations. The school has trained staff, enhanced the school library, and updated campus technology over the past three years in order to qualify.
MYP Coordinator Robin Porter is very excited about the school’s new IB status. “We want people to see what we are doing, and how we are changing,” she said. “We are cultivating a new vision and shaping our students into well-rounded people who will go on to do great things in the world.”
The staff has been reaching out to parents, making positive phone calls to students’ homes, and even going door-to-door to meet parents and invite them into the school. PTO President and mother Tamoka Thompson said that her daughter is enjoying the new approach to teaching and learning. “My daughter is reading more and reading beyond her grade level,” she said, “and she has made so much progress in math that she is now in an AP math class.”
Fondren has a very diverse population, with students from 18 countries who speak 12 different languages. “Students at Fondren are able to learn how to interact with many cultures, which will serve them well when they get out in the world,” added Thompson.
Eighth-grader Keyra Walker is happy with the changes in the school. “There is so much diversity here,” she said. “We accept everyone, and it’s beautiful.” She is already thinking about high school and beyond. “I want to go to Lamar High School or Carnegie Vanguard,” Walker said. “After that, I want to attend Harvard or Yale and become a doctor or a lawyer.”
The IB program specifies learning in a broad base of disciplines – languages, mathematics, sciences, humanities, arts, physical education, and technology – to ensure that students have the knowledge and skills necessary for the future.
“Everyone is involved in getting our students college- and career-ready,” said Lewis. “We have a clear mission now, and we are living that mission every single day.”
Formerly, Fondren was a math and science magnet. It is one of 20 HISD schools that are part of the Apollo program.
More information on HISD schools who offer the IB program is available here: