I am writing to you having recently returned from the International Baccalaureate Global Conference in Dublin, Ireland, with much to share about my experience there. It is always inspiring to be in a room full of educators who share the common goal of using education to make the world a better place, especially at a time when our world can feel so divided.
The stated mission of IB is to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help create a better and more peaceful world through education that builds intercultural understanding and respect.
At La Scuola, this is foundational to who we are. From the very beginning, when we decided to grow La Scuola into a full PreK-Grade 8 program, we knew we wanted a framework that would not just work alongside our established Reggio Emilia pedagogy, but actually build on and expand its core beliefs: that education is the best tool we have to bring positive change to the world; that children are capable and should have agency and ownership over their learning; that international-mindedness and global-mindedness matter.
Teaching-and-learning within this framework is not easy, but the conference was a powerful reminder of why we do it, beginning at age 3, and why it’s worth it in the long term. Students from IB schools develop transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary learning skills that allow them to make connections and uncover solutions in a way other students may not be able to. Furthermore, these skills benefit them even after they’ve graduated from Grade 8, or even high school. Top universities from around the world recognize the potential of an IB-educated student to succeed in higher education and beyond. They learn how to learn, for life.
As with many things in our world right now, education is often presented as a dichotomy: you can have academic rigor or whole-child development. You can be STEM-focused or creative. You can give back to your local community or you can be connected to communities around the world.
With the IB framework and the Reggio pedagogy as our guiding principles, and our language immersion program as a foundational part of our identity, we have found that there is no need to choose. Our students build academic knowledge alongside empathy. They design experiments that rely on artistry to succeed and they create works of art that would not be possible without an understanding of science. They are thoughtful citizens of their San Francisco and Silicon Valley communities, who also relish opportunities to write letters or video chat with students across the world.
This is what you choose for your child when you choose a La Scuola education – it is a gift you give them. It also would not be possible for us to teach this way without the dedication of our teachers. This is not easy work. The teachers who come to an IB school are those who are passionate – they are ready to put their heart and soul into what they do. We are incredibly lucky to have educators like this in each of our classrooms.
Not every school can be an IB school. It takes an incredible amount of work behind the scenes to maintain the high standards of excellence that the IB organization has for its schools, and requires a re-accreditation every four years. In fact, La Scuola is up for re–accreditation in San Francisco next year and our first accreditation in Silicon Valley, which we are prepared for. If you have any questions about this process, I encourage you to reach out.
It is so easy when we return from a trip, especially a work-related trip, to get caught up in the day-to-day that greets us back at home and forget much of what we just learned or experienced. I can safely say that will not be the case this time. The learnings and experience of being in the room with global leaders in education will stay with me for a long time.
Valentina, Imbeni, PhD
Head of School
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