HISD’s vision of producing global graduates grows with each new IB world school

Herrera Elementary School is officially celebrating its new status this week as an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School, the latest HISD campus to receive official authorization. Herrera joins nine other HISD elementary schools with IB authorization – Durham, Harvard, Northline, River Oaks, Roberts, Rodriguez, School at St. George Place, Twain, and Wharton Dual Language Academy. The growing number of IB schools in HISD, now a total of 17, reflects the district’s vision of preparing students to succeed in a multicultural world.

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“We are very excited about concluding our three-year journey to become an IB school,” said Principal Chris Carnes. “We want our students to have the benefits that an international program such as this can provide. Many are from working families who have lived in this community for generations, and yet they haven’t been exposed to opportunities in the Houston area, much less worldly events and cultures. We are using the program not only to increase instructional practices but to give the children exposure to cultures and countries they may not have otherwise.”

Herrera will celebrate its IB status on Friday, March 13, with a schoolwide celebration that coincides with its annual International Festival, during which the hallways are transformed into various countries. The school is a technology magnet, so students have been incorporating instructional technology into their research, which includes taking virtual tours of various countries. They have shared stories with students in other countries as well.

Achieving IB status is a demanding and lengthy process – schools must align their curriculum to IB standards and train all their teachers in the IB philosophy.

“We began by forming an IB steering committee and visiting IB campuses to see exactly what we were getting ourselves into,” said Magnet/IB/Special Ed Coordinator Melody Vizi. “We started talking to parents and teachers about the process and expectations of the program. The biggest task was getting all 56 of our teachers trained in the framework of IB, but Mr. Carnes allowed many of us to travel to Louisiana, Georgia, New York, California, and Florida for training.”

“I assisted in guiding our teachers through inquiry-based instruction,” said Assistant Principal Mandy Gutierrez. “This was scary for them at first, because it was a little unfamiliar. I helped them take a step back and embrace the idea of the students’ thought process – capitalizing on their experiences and using them as teachable moments.”

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 to be successful in the future. The IB diploma allows students to enter Texas public universities with 24 credit hours if they score 4 or higher on their IB exams.

Four HISD middle schools are authorized as IB – Fondren, Grady, Hogg, and Lanier. Reagan, Bellaire, and Lamar high schools offer the IB diploma program. For more information, visit the HISD IB website.