Current trends in International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programs (IB PYP)

Children sit at the tables in the classroom and studying

In the wake of the worldwide pandemic, disruption to education occurred in record numbers across the globe. As a result, many schools and educators were forced to find alternative ways to keep students engaged, especially in terms of virtual learning.

It was a new environment for students and teachers, who learned to adapt together in order to make the best of a bad situation.

International Baccalaureate® (IB) schools seemed to adapt more easily to the change, as the inquiry-based curriculum the program instills had already prepared students to adjust, innovate, and flourish. Even the young Primary Years Programme (PYP) students seemed agile in acclimating to the changes, perhaps even more so than others.

Strelitz International Academy immediately realized how valuable our role was in developing knowledgeable, confident, and caring students during this traumatic period. As an IB PYP school serving Norfolk, Chesapeake, and Virginia Beach, we knew we had to do all we could to motivate our students to succeed by continuing their lifelong pursuit of knowledge.

We decided early on that the best way to accomplish that was to get students back into a hands-on environment as quickly as safely possible. We created new health and welfare guidelines and dedicated a lot of time into how to best serve our students while also protecting our faculty, staff, and administrators.

Because of our small classroom sizes and diligence at safeguarding our campus, we were able to achieve our goals without incident, to the delight of our students, our parents, and our team members.

This has created the opportunity for new emerging trends to be identified and utilized in the educational process, especially when it comes to the impact the pandemic has had and will continue to have on our organization, our communities, and on innovation as a whole.

Organization – Strelitz International Academy is a strongly knit group of educators, administrators, and parents, who can mobilize quickly and shift paradigms effectively when it comes to providing the best educational environment for the students.
Community – Lessons learned during the COVID-19 outbreak demonstrated how powerful our interactions with others can be and how big a role each individual plays in the overall safeguarding of the planet.
Innovation – Virtual learning is certainly an impressive nod to technology, but we also know that innovation does not always mean the best use of the latest gadgets. Some of the smallest adjustments in how we led our day-to-day lives during the pandemic created innovative new ways to accomplish goals.

All of these lessons can be observed by our PYP students when highlighted by our teachers, which can and will be implemented in our educational process. The beauty of inquiry-based learning is that students can learn from real-world lessons and apply them to not only how they learn and understand, but also to how they can be good citizens of the world.

As of February 2021, there were more than 7,300 IB programs offered worldwide, in more than 5,400 schools throughout 158 countries. The four program elements, including the Primary Years Programme, now reach more than 1.4 million students aged 3-19 across the globe. Between 2016 and 2020, the number of IB programs offered across the planet increased more than 33 percent and continues to rise.

Strelitz International Academy recognized many years ago the value of private school education, especially how the PYP can benefit our students and prepare them for the next stages of their lives. We’re excited to see how the education they receive here is shaping their intelligence and values.

If you’re searching for a new school for your child, we encourage you to learn more about the IB PYP and how we put it to use. Better yet, contact us on 757-424-4327 and make an appointment to stop by our campus and see the program in action. We look forward to meeting you and we’d look forward to showing you all that we have to offer.

Why Is Early Childhood Education Important?

Students Learning at Early Years Programme

The “early” in Early Childhood Education is generally defined as the period of time between when a child is born and when he or she first enters kindergarten, which is normally between the ages of 4 and 6.

During this time period, young minds are like sponges, soaking up as much knowledge as they can while also learning how to walk, talk, interact with others, and learn about “right” from “wrong.” For example, they may not understand why water boiling in a pan on the stove is dangerous, but when properly “instructed” and directed, they can learn that they should not touch it. Similarly, they can learn positive behaviors through a logical rewards and consequences that get them to understand what is expected of them as they make their way through life and take on greater responsibilities in the process.

Early Childhood Education is more than just teaching basic educational skills. It’s also a time to gain critical emotional and social aptitudes. This is why the staff, administration, and teachers of Strelitz International Academy so firmly believe in inquiry-based education—as opposed to the standardized curriculums used in public school. It’s why we chose to meet the rigorous demands of becoming an International Baccalaureate (IB®) candidate school, offering their Primary Years Programme (PYP) to students between the ages of 3 and 12 (kindergarten through 5th grade).

The IB® is an international educational foundation founded in 1968 with a mission to create a better world through education. The PYP seeks to nurture a child’s natural curiosity so they can take control of their learning. With teachers acting as collaborators to education, the environment created helps students excel in their studies as well as their personal growth, addressing the overall needs of the child as a whole.

The base for the IB’s educational programs is built on the Five Approaches to Learning, which include:
– Thinking skills
– Communications skills
– Social Skills
– Self-Management skills
– Research Skills

We understand that every child learns differently. We believe that by being an IB® program elementary school with small classroom sizes, teachers have a better opportunity to interact with each of the students and can provide additional assistance if they hit any roadblocks along the way.

Through inquiry-based learning, those students can build a better understanding of why things are the way they are, and what their responsibilities are and will be as humans–at home or school, in their communities, and as citizens of the world. This forms a lifelong love of learning that helps our students excel as they travel down their chosen paths.

It also helps children form lifelong relationships with other students that will serve them well as they move forward with their education and then into the real world. This can be instrumental in helping them get good jobs, starting businesses together, collaborating on projects, or just moral support from a trusted peer.

We invite you to come join us, learn more about our curriculum and our dedication to helping children learn so we can get their journey started.

Celebrating Jewish Holidays at Private School

Celebrating Jewish Holidays at SIA

One of the greatest things about being a Jewish Day School, a member of the Virginia Association of Independent Schools, as well as an International Baccalaureate (IB®) Primary Years Programme (PYP) candidate school servicing Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Norfolk is that we get to have a lot of fun while we learn. This includes learning about the history of the Jewish religion and culture including the customs and traditions we follow.

We saw an example of that recently when we celebrated Purim at school. Our Early Years Program students learned about and fulfilled the four mitzvot of Purim including:
–    Hearing the Megillah: Our EY students not only had an opportunity to hear the Megillah, they then set out to help make a copy of it. Each class from the toddlers to EY4 created a panel that depicted the story of Queen Esther, the heroine of the tale, when the panels were brought together. The toddlers through EY3 students got to hear the Megillah read in person by Morah Elyssa, while the EY4 classes were able to stream the reading in real time through the miracle of technology.
–    Mishloach Manot: The second mitzvah of Purim requires us to give gifts of at least two different kinds of food to others. Each class fulfilled this mitzvah by creating gift baskets filled with Purim treats that were then given to our office staff and our school security guards, Ramon and Mark.
–    Give Tzedakah: While most of our Purim celebration was about having fun while learning, the third mitzvah is teaching the importance of giving tzedakah. This is a Hebrew word meaning “righteousness,” but is commonly used to signify giving charity. This is viewed as a moral and ethical practice, which is not only good for the recipient(s), it’s an important part of building good moral character and developing good citizens of the world.
–   Have a Festive Time: You don’t need to ask Early Years students twice to have a good time, so this was the easiest mitzvah to fulfill. Our students participated in costume parades, played games, rocked out at a dance party, and enjoyed lots of delicious treats including popsicles, cotton candy, and hamantaschen, the famous cookie that is named for Haman’s ears. These cookies commemorate Esther’s victory over Haman and his plot to destroy the Jewish people.

Many special thanks for the teachers who helped make this celebration memorable and joyful for all of our students. We all had an amazing time celebrating Purim and the coming of Shabbat.

Looking for a Jewish Day school serving Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Norfolk? Come visit Strelitz International Academy and let us tell you more about our International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP). The mission of the IB program is to build a better world through education. Our mission is to enrich the life of the whole child, to develop compassionate, lifelong learners, and to promote a social and global consciousness that encompasses a profound respect for all humanity. Please join us!

Spirit Week and Day of Giving inspires extraordinary level of Parent Donations at the Strelitz International Academy

Group of Students Wear Mask to Celebrate Spirit Week

SIA returned from Winter Break to a whole school Spirit Week from January 5th through 8th, culminating in the Day of Giving on January 8th hoping to inspire parents to participate in the school’s annual donor fund (ADF) reflecting the power of community.

Spirit Week was the brainchild of SIA’s Parent Volunteer Committee and Student Government Association to highlight this important week of Giving. Students and faculty dressed up in different outfits each day, gaining momentum for parents to join together to raise necessary dollars to meet SIA’s 2020-2021 Annual Donor Fund goals.

Crazy Sock Day Celebration at SIA

Spirit week kicked off on Tuesday, January 5 with a crazy sock day. Some students wore blue and pink mismatched socks while others borrowed from their parent’s drawer and wore dress socks high up past their knees.

Sports Jersey Day Celebration at SIA

Wednesday’s “spirit wear” continued with a Sports Jersey Day. Even though you could see students wearing a mix of Jerseys from around the world, such as the Orioles, Maccabi Haifa Soccer, and ODU Basketball, our SIA students are all on the same team when it comes to their love for SIA.

Tie Dyed t-shirts Celebration at SIA

As we all wished for peace and an end to the pandemic in 2021, students rocked their Tie Dyed t-shirts, socks, and even masks on Thursday!

Friday everyone donned their favorite silly or serious hats as a hats off and thank you to all of our families participating in our Spirit week.

After a week of excitement and community, Spirit Week culminated on Friday, January 8 with SIA’s first ever Day of Giving. SIA’s Spirit Week had a record breaking 77% parent participation to the annual donor fund, and raised almost $20,000. Many of our families shared the wonderful and inspiring reasons that they choose to make an annual gift to the Strelitz International Academy.

Amy and Eliot Weinstein, parents of Avi in Kindergarten and Daniella in the Early Years program, said: “no matter the amount of tuition we can pay, or how much we can give the Annual Donor Fund in any given year, we feel it’s important to be counted amongst those families investing in the future of SIA. Our gift is our extra investment in our kids, their classmates, their teachers, the unique education and excellent programs. We are so grateful for the opportunity to be part of the SIA family, and we want to pay it forward.”

SIA raises money each year through its Annual Donor Fund that benefits the school in many ways such as supporting its flexible tuition program, to reduce tuition to meet the unique needs and circumstances for each individual family; bridging the gap between operating costs and SIA’s tuition revenue, which allows the school to keep tuition costs low; and supporting advancement and staff development towards International BaccalaureateⓇ accreditation.

Strelitz International Academy thanks all of its current families for their continual support and trust enabling our school to provide a safe and nurturing environment, Jewish ethics and values, and advanced academic standards as a candidate school for the International BaccalaureateⓇ Primary Years program. SIA looks forward to continuing Spirit Week and the Day of Giving next year as a new annual tradition.

Strelitz International Academy Students Learn About The Election Process in The U.S. and Israel

Fifth graders Ben Amitay as Vice President Joe Biden and Amelia Portnoy as Senator Kamala Harris

Would you believe that learning about politics can be fun? As an IB Candidate School, the students at SIA learn about the world through inquiries, interviews, investigations, discussions, projects and research. In response to the recent U.S. election, fifth grade learned about both the U.S. election process and the Israeli system.

The fifth grader’s first line of inquiry was the process of voting. During this unit, 5th grade created a Virginia Voter’s Guide, researched important topics, drafted a debate script using their research, and orchestrated a mock debate for the school. They met with a Voter Protection Program Community Leader to gain more insight into the voting process.

On Monday, November 2, the 5th-grade class organized a mock debate for the President/Vice Presidential team. They researched platform agendas of both major parties in the United States. The whole school tuned in virtually for the fifth-grade mock debate. The fifth grade students ended the debate stressing the importance of voting, and the next day every student in SIA had the opportunity to vote for the President of the United States at school. The fifth-grade students discovered the importance of voice and choice during this election process. Their message to other students was that it is never too early to get involved and vote!

In connection to their inquiry unit on the American voting process, SIA 5th graders learned about the Israeli political system as well. Students saw photos of an Israeli ballot and ballot box, learned how people vote in Israel and how the prime minister is chosen. After coming up with many questions about the Israeli Election Process, students met with a “community expert” who could help them get some answers! Over Zoom, they met with Israeli resident, and former Norfolk native, Rabbi Levi Margolin, to deepen their understanding of Israel’s democracy. Rabbi Margolin, who lives in Jerusalem, gave a presentation to the students on the Israeli election process and even taught the class key election vocabulary in Hebrew! The students found it fascinating that Israel has so many political parties!

The fifth grade class compared their thoughts on the pros and cons of the US political system and the Israeli political system. Students shared great points in defense of both processes as they compared and contrasted the two different election systems. Although, we will never all agree on politics, we can all agree that these students will always remember their experience learning about the U.S. and Israeli Election process!

For more information on the Strelitz International Academy, contact Carin Simon, Admissions Director, 757.424.4327, csimon@strelitzacademy.org

Strelitz International Academy Students Return To School on Campus!

First Day of School After Pandemic COVID-19 Lockdown

SIA students returned to campus for in person learning on August 24. After almost 6 months away from their school campus and their friends, SIA students were so excited to come back to school!

It was a very unique and busy summer as the Strelitz International Academy prepared to return to campus. After going virtual on March 13 along with every school in Virginia, SIA Head of School Heather Moore was determined to open school safely on August 24 as planned to be able to better meet the educational, social and emotional, and childcare needs of the Strelitz families.

As word spread that Strelitz was opening, the admissions department became flooded with inquiries. Many families who had previously been satisfied with their neighborhood public schools applied for admission to SIA. The International Baccalaureate Program, Jewish Education and face to face learning made the decision to switch an easy one for many families in Tidewater. By mid summer, many classes had waitlists.

Opening school safely is not an easy task. It requires many safety measures to be implemented, including no parents or visitors on campus, mask wearing, social distancing, desk screens and a daily health screening done by parents along with student temperature checks during carpool drop off.

Heather Moore explains, “Our COVID team began meeting in May to begin researching and planning a way to open school safely this fall. The team met regularly and developed safety protocols and ordered equipment to ensure we could open school. Once we had a plan to safely open, we opened summer childcare p for early years on July 6 to help our families who had been in need of childcare for their little ones. We created a COVID parent handbook to help everyone acclimate to the new rules that parents, faculty and children would need to follow to maintain a safe environment.”

A virtual meet and greet was planned for the Friday before classes started so that students could meet their teachers and see their classroom before the first day of school. Parents and students were so grateful to be back on campus and didn’t seem to mind this unusual start.

On the first day of school, students were ready for school with their personal assortment of cute masks to express their style, parents were patient in the drop offline, and even our littlest learners were happy to be handed off to their teachers. The students have been amazingly resilient and parents were thrilled and grateful.
SIA parent Jasmine Amitay wrote on the SIA Facebook page, “Thank you for everything you did (and keep doing) to keep our kiddos safe! The boys had the best 1st day ever!”

SIA is looking at the year a little differently and creatively planning to come together virtually for parent and family events. Many SIA community highlights such as Shabbat Singalongs and parent coffees will not be possible this school year due to SIA’s safety protocols. The Parent Volunteer Committee has met virtually and is working on a schedule of enticing virtual events for parents and families.

After 5 long months of being apart, SIA is back on campus! Students are happy to be able to see their friends, learn with their classmates and enjoy a normal routine. And their parents could not be happier!
To learn more about the Strelitz International Academy, please contact Carin Simon, Admissions Director, csimon@strelitzacademy.org or 757.424.4327

What To Expect When Strelitz International Academy (SIA) Reopens

Students are doing some experiment with Microscope

A major advantage of the International Baccalaureate® (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP) is that students are immersed in their learning environments, to not only learn by example, but also to understand through action. Because of that, we decided to open our campus this August for the fall semester and welcome returning students and faculty. We believe that because of our small class sizes, we can monitor and control their environment, to keep our students, staff, and faculty as safe as possible from the spread of COVID-19.

In order to do so, we fully took into account the need to revise our guidelines and policies regarding illness and health issues. We are utilizing resources and guidance provided by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO) to formulate our policies and procedures.

Taking into account that infants through fifth graders cannot safely wear facemasks, shields, or other personal protective equipment (PPE), and they are generally not developmentally or physically astute enough to cover coughs and sneezes, we have put together a policy that will always err on the side of caution.

The full details of our updated illness policy are available on our website and in the August 7th SIA newsletter. In a nutshell, students and staff at SIA must go home or stay home and be evaluated by a licensed health professional who can determine if further testing may be needed for the following symptoms:

– Fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, with or without other symptoms present
– Fever of 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit with other symptom of illness present or an upward trend in temperature
– Cough
– Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
– Stomach pain
– Vomiting or diarrhea
– Body aches
– Headache unrelieved by hydration/rest/cool compress
– Persistent and/or heavy nasal secretions
– Lethargy
– Unusually persistent fussiness
– Rash or skin eruptions
– Chills
– Redness/irritation/swelling of the eyelid lining with crusting, discharge, discomfort, and/or itch

Children with household members who are known to have COVID-19 must not come to school.

The bar will be set low for sending/keeping students/staff home, and it will be set very high when evaluating their return. If your student is sent home, he or she must be picked up within 45 minutes. Please plan appropriately for this possibility.

We thank you in advance for your patience and support.

What is the difference between Honors, AP®, IB®, and college classes?

Students Learning by themself at IB Classes

For high school seniors hoping to continue their education at a college or university after graduating, getting accepted to a school of higher learning can be a very competitive process. College admissions committees are looking for students who show an aptitude for scholastics, receive good grades and score well on their SATs, and strive to push the borders of their studies. In some cases, they also factor in community service or extracurricular activities.

To set themselves apart for other candidates, some students will enroll in more challenging study programs while in high school. In addition to their regular coursework, they may enroll in Honors classes, Advanced Placement classes, or take college courses at a local community college. A fourth option is to choose a school that offers an International Baccalaureate programme, which is an advanced curriculum in itself, as opposed to adding coursework to a standardized publicly dictated curriculum.

Let’s take a look at each:
Honors Classes are courses offered by individual schools that provide slightly more advanced content than traditional high school courses. While Honors Classes do look good on a transcript, there is no standardization of the classes or how they are taught.

Advanced Placement courses are authorized and regulated by The College Board, the same group that develops and administers the SAT. Schools that want to offer AP courses must go through an application process that ensures their courses meet AP standards. Individual teachers may also request approval to teach AP courses. Therefore, as a rule, college admission committees generally rank AP courses higher on an application over Honors Classes.

College Classes can be taken by students while still in high school. These courses can be helpful in preparing students for the college experience while also potentially earning credits toward college work, allowing students to skip required courses once they are full-time college students.

The International Baccalaureate is a curriculum founded with a mission of creating a better world through education. It offers coursework that focuses on teaching students to think critically and independently, and how to inquire with care and logic.

At Strelitz International Academy, we believe the International Baccalaureate is the best way to prepare students from a young age to move on to higher education, and become successful in their chosen career paths. We have invested a significant amount of time and energy into applying to and working with the IB® to be able to become a IB Primary Years Programme school. Contact us 757-424-4327 to find out more.

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