Fluvanna County Elementary Schools Begin New Program

By: Althea Paul
By: Althea Paul

August 30, 2006

This year, elementary schools in Fluvanna County are starting new strategies and techniques. It's all part of a program to help students become better, over-all learners.

All three elementary schools in Fluvanna County are working to become a part of it, and the program actually teaches students to be more independent when it comes to learning.

Fluvanna County is trying to make sure their elementary students will be life-long learners. The school system is taking the first step towards becoming part of the Primary Years Programme, with the International Baccalaureate Organization.

"I think [IB training] takes it to a much higher level. There's a much greater focus on inquiring, a focus on problem solving, thinking, communicating, learning how to ask your own questions," said Director of Elementary Education for Fluvanna County, Allen Cook.

Amy Hartwell is one of several teachers at Central who have gone through the initial IB training. "The children have more control over their education and the teacher becomes more of a facilitator," she said.

Hartwell said for example, when teaching the five senses to her students, they took over the board for the lesson. She explains, "They created and came up with different things that probably had I done it, they would not have [come up with]. If I directed it, they would not have been able to explore what they were able to explore."

One of the key elements is foreign language. So for the first time, county elementary schools have a language class this year, Spanish.

"It's really a critical period for foreign language learning for children, with pronunciation and the ability to think differently. It's a good way to train your mind," said Spanish Teacher, Stephen Verbos.

The program’s framework is also built on understanding certain characteristics and attitudes, such as caring and being open-minded.

Even though the school is just getting starting and slowly working in these new techniques, officials are very excited.

"We'll be able to take our school division's mission and vision and make it a reality for every child, so those just aren't words to us," said Cook.

Fluvanna school officials say it will take about two to three years until they are fully authorized.

Right now, there are only five schools in Virginia that are official IB schools.

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