Mahtomedi school is first Catholic IB Primary Years Program in Midwest

| Kristi Anderson | August 28, 2013 | 4 Comments

WEB-school“What are we going to do today?” is a popular question teachers are asked, sometimes several times a day.

Lynette Loch, third-grade teacher and computer specialist at St. Jude of the Lake School in Mahtomedi, said that through their newly received International Baccalaureate authorization and Primary Years Program designation, the students answer that question for themselves.

“The IB Primary Years Program has brought a renewed energy to staff and students,” she said of the IB approach, which was integrated fully into the school’s curriculum at the start of the 2012-13 school year. “I have noticed the natural curiosity of the children flourishing. Students no longer come into the classroom asking, ‘What are we going to do today?’ Instead they come in with suggestions about what we should do that will help us gain a better understanding of our central idea.”

St. Jude of the Lake School announced July 22 that it received authorization as an International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program School. With the authorization, St. Jude became the first Catholic IB PYP School in the Midwest and just the third in the nation.

“This is a historic and exciting accomplishment for St. Jude of the Lake School,” said Cressy Epperly, principal at St. Jude. “This authorization puts us into an elite group of schools in the country.”

According to its website,, the IB Primary Years Program is a curriculum framework designed for students aged 3 to 12. It is a teaching method that emphasizes inquiry, encouraging children to ask questions, seek understanding, connect new learning to prior knowledge and become lifelong learners.

Teachers enthusiastic

Epperly explained that St. Jude staff spent the last three years pursuing and preparing for the school’s IB authorization by visiting other IB-authorized schools, attending extensive IB training courses, and gradually incorporating IB practices and principles into daily class work.

Mike Langer, IB coordinator and physical education/health teacher at St. Jude’s notes that there are many exciting aspects and benefits of the PYP.

“What I am particularly excited about is the way the program encourages and stirs the natural curiosity of children — enabling them to dig deeper into subject material and establish more meaningful learning,” he said. “Combine this with the fact that the program brings out the best in educators, in terms of collaborative creativity and resourcefulness, and the PYP is a wonderful way to both learn and teach.”

First-grade teacher Tammy Green said, “With the PYP, I notice a stronger sense of wonder with my first graders. The children take ownership of their learning as they work together to inquire about how the world works and their place in it. I am amazed at the connections and discoveries they make and the enthusiasm they express in their sharing. They are able to take learning to the next level by taking action to demonstrate understanding.”

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Category: Back to School