Michael Smoot’s orchestra ensemble accepted playing second fiddle to Harry Stone Montessori Academy’s big announcement on becoming an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School, one of only two in the district to receive the designation.
As his team of strings took center stage in front of a standing-room only audience for a special presentation, Smoot recalled his personal experience there. An orchestra teacher, he has spent the last 25 years teaching at Harry Stone. Throughout the years he’s watched the school evolve from a traditional elementary school to a magnet school and most recently a Montessori academy. Smoot is the only original member of the faculty from when the school transitioned to a Montessori school who still works at the campus.
It took three years for Harry Stone to complete the IB application process.
“It allows (students) to have opportunities beyond Harry Stone,” Principal Lisa Curry said. “So when they see the name ‘world school’ they know that you have been engaged.”
By becoming an IB World School, Harry Stone may begin offering the Middle Years program, a framework of learning that encourages students to become creative, critical and reflective thinkers.
“Orchestra and IB go hand-in-hand,” Smoot said. “It’s an international skill and students will learn the same techniques in Europe as they are here.”
Middle Years Programme participants will focus their education on eight subject groups integrated through five interactive areas. Students will be required to study at least two languages as well as courses in the humanities, sciences, mathematics, arts, physical education and technology. As a capstone, students will be required to complete an independent “personal project” to demonstrate the development of their skills and understanding.
In May 2014, Harry Stone hosted the IB team during an extensive review of the campus, which included interviews of students, staff, parents and various school leaders. The school was officially notified of their acceptance into the program shortly before the start of the 2014 -2015 school year.
During a video presentation, students spoke to the benefits of attending an IB school. First-year Harry Stone student Karthik Swaminathan said he liked the educational environment an IB provides.
“We’re given excellent learning opportunities, but we get better and better at each opportunity we receive,” Swaminathan said.