Blaine County’s impressive educational system can now boast of being the only public school in Idaho to implement the International Baccalaureate Programme (IB). Established in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1968, this prestigious educational program can now be found in 147 countries worldwide. “For Idaho, this is huge,” says Julia Grafft, IB coordinator and English teacher at Wood River High School.
“It’s a 21st-century teaching method, as opposed to a set of specific courses, and every student is automatically enrolled,” explains Jane Walther, the French teacher and IB coordinator at Wood River Middle School.
After a discussion forum of over 6,000 parents, teachers and community members in 2009, Blaine County School District (BCSD) decided that four things were key for our education system: 1. A rigorous curriculum. 2. A focus on multiculturalism. 3. Addressing the needs of the “whole child”. 4. Preparing students for a 21st-century world. The IB program answered all of those concerns.
It not only helps create open-minded, well-rounded students, Julia and Jane say, but with courses like “Global Perspectives” and a required “World Language,” it shapes young citizens for the world. “For students living in a pretty rural area in Idaho, the international-minded aspects are important,” Jane says.
“Also, by addressing the ‘whole child’—meaning personally, socially, psychologically, etc.— it’s a more holistic, balanced education,” explains Julia. “It’s not only about academia, and that has always been important to Blaine County residents.” Although BCSD has currently only implemented the “Middle Years Programme,” there are discussions to include other programs and enroll students starting at age three until graduation.
“This is a program that competitive universities will recognize,” Jane says, adding that it will give our Blaine County students yet another leg up on their college applications—moving them onward, upward, into the world and “prepared for life beyond school.”