Friday, June 22, 2018
Education

Bishop Larkin to implement IB curriculum for middle schoolers

PORT RICHEY — Students of Bishop Larkin Catholic School fitted in dresses or khakis listened Thursday as women sang "hosanna" from the front of the sanctuary at Saint James the Apostle Catholic Church. The students whispered to one other, perhaps not realizing the enormity of the change taking place in their lives: They were graduating eighth grade, poised to leave and venture into high school.

Those students aren't the only ones experiencing a major change from the Bishop Larkin they know. The school is implementing coursework that will make it the only Pasco school to offer the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program.

Parents may be familiar with the IB degree offered to high school students. Land O'Lakes High School and Gulf High School offer that program, which requires students to participate in certain classes and projects to earn the advanced diploma.

The program offered by Bishop Larkin will be different, assistant principal Sylvia Peters said. It's not a degree program, and every student will take part since it changes the requirements of both honors and standard classes.

Sister Regina Ozuzu, the school's principal, said the Middle Years program focuses on teacher training and interdisciplinary schooling rather than degree requirements.

"In middle school, you go to science, you think about science. You go to math, you think about math," Ozuzu said.

With IB, however, students will connect lessons from various courses. Students in science class will be expected to write well, and students in English class will be expected to demonstrate a grasp of science.

The program would include extensive teacher training to instruct students that way, Peters said. Five teachers have already been to a training session in St. Petersburg, and Peters and Ozuzu will train in Atlanta soon, Peters said.

Ozuzu said the school will probably hire additional teachers for the program. She said it's too early to tell how many or for what subjects, and she expects current teachers will teach multiple subjects.

The question on many parents' minds is whether the new curriculum will induce a tuition increase.

Despite application and accreditation fees the school is shelling out, Peters said, parents will not see these costs. Tuition will stay at $4,159 per year for members of a Catholic parish and $5,530 per year for those who are not.

If more students enroll at Bishop Larkin, the school's revenues collected from tuition will increase. But Peters and Ozuzu said attracting students is not the goal of implementing IB, though Ozuzu said more students would be a blessing.

"If they want to jump on the bandwagon, the doors are open," she said with a laugh.

But Peters said the goal is to better serve the students already enrolled at the school.

It will take Bishop Larkin two to three years to earn full accreditation, Ozuzu said, at which time it will become an IB World School.

Meanwhile, Peters said, teachers will start to implement the IB curriculum. To become fully accredited, the school will need to present student projects and classes to demonstrate its commitment to the program.

The school already practices many of the IB requirements, Peters said. For example, students already study science with hands-on projects, which the IB program emphasizes.

Still, teachers will have more work creating interdisciplinary lesson plans, Ozuzu said.

Peters said because the IB program focuses on an international education, lessons about culture will be included in coursework. Students in Spanish will take the class three days a week instead of two.

In physical education, students could learn American sports as well as games from other countries and time periods, Ozuzu said.

Despite curriculum shifts, there are some basic things that won't change at Bishop Larkin.

The painted statues of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ will remain the first thing people see when they pass through the school's front door. The poster with James 4:8 about people coming closer to God will stay on the wall, as will the tapestry with swirling letters declaring, "He is risen."

"We are first and foremost a Catholic school," Ozuzu said. "We are a Catholic school adding IB."

Mary Kenney can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6247.

Comments
Hernando school officials set to discuss replacement, sever ties after firing Superintendent Lori Romano

Hernando school officials set to discuss replacement, sever ties after firing Superintendent Lori Romano

BROOKSVILLE — With dust still settling from the Hernando County School Board’s close vote to fire Superintendent Lori Romano — and days before her time as head of the district runs out — school officials and community members seem to be already movin...
Published: 06/20/18
Hernando students score slightly better on state tests

Hernando students score slightly better on state tests

BROOKSVILLE — As schools and districts across the state await their 2018 grades from the Florida Department of Education, the standardized test scores that factor into those ratings and were dropped last week show slight gains in Hernando County.The ...
Published: 06/20/18
Budget analysis projects deficit, deepened by security costs, for Pasco schools in coming year

Budget analysis projects deficit, deepened by security costs, for Pasco schools in coming year

An early analysis of the Pasco County School District’s 2018-2019 budget projects a deficit of more than a million dollars, with more than half of that coming from a shortfall in funding new school safety requirements.Costs to hire and train 53 new s...
Published: 06/20/18
New dorm still coming to USF St. Petersburg, but in a smaller package

New dorm still coming to USF St. Petersburg, but in a smaller package

ST. PETERSBURG — Originally pitched as a nine- or 10-story, 550-bed dorm for the overcrowded University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus, USF’s latest residence hall project will likely look much different by the time it’s done.For starters, it...
Published: 06/20/18
Carlton: From Sun Dome to Beer Stadium: Don’t let suds scare you

Carlton: From Sun Dome to Beer Stadium: Don’t let suds scare you

Am I missing something in the — pardon the expression — brouhaha over the renaming of the University of South Florida Sun Dome to the Yuengling Center? In trading a college arena’s longtime name for that of a big-name beer brewed ne...
Published: 06/20/18

Hillsborough school district will pursue two kinds of local taxes

TAMPA — Hillsborough County School District officials took an important step Tuesday toward asking the voters to pay higher taxes for schools that, they say, are not getting enough money from the state.The board voted 5-0 to submit a tax referendum r...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/20/18
STEM camp beats the summer doldrums for some Pasco students

STEM camp beats the summer doldrums for some Pasco students

DADE CITY —Just a few weeks into summer vacation, Pasco Middle School student Jade Neal, 14, was back at school, delving into a challenging STEM activity on force in motion, as the theme to Mission Impossible played in the background.The assignment? ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Ethan Hooper steps up with a salute to teachers

Ethan Hooper steps up with a salute to teachers

Editor’s note: Ethan Hooper wrote today’s column to give Ernest Hooper Father’s Day off.In May, I graduated from the University of Central Florida with a degree in elementary education, and I recently secured a job as a first-grade teacher with Orang...
Published: 06/18/18
AP World History course is dropping thousands of years of human events - and critics are furious

AP World History course is dropping thousands of years of human events - and critics are furious

Since 2002, the AP World History course has covered thousands of years of human activity around the planet, starting 10,000 years back. But now the College Board, which owns the Advanced Placement program, wants to cut out most of that history and st...
Published: 06/16/18
School board races attract new faces

School board races attract new faces

TAMPA — When long-time Hillsborough County School Board member Susan Valdes resigned this month from the board to run for the State House of Representatives, the decision affected more than just her seat in west Hillsborough’s District 1.It also coul...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/17/18