Cassandra Williams, principal of Davis Magnet Elementary School, had good reason to be smiling Aug. 17. Williams announced at a ceremony that day that Davis Magnet, on North Congress Street near downtown Jackson, had made the grade internationally. The school received official authorization as an International Baccalaureate World School.
The International Baccalaureate Organization, begun more than 40 years ago in Geneva, Switzerland, promotes high academics and international understanding, and Davis students worked hard to meet the standards. Students are taught to be active learners and engaged citizens with a practical experience of being part of an international community. There is a full-time Spanish teacher at Davis. All students receive instruction in Spanish.
Aside from foreign language courses, teachers at the Level 4 school encourage students to be more active in their learning. Kids ask questions such as "why is the sky blue?" and teachers address them.
"We want students to be inquirers, thinkers, communicators and risk-takers, to be knowledgeable, principled, caring, open-minded, well-balanced and reflective," Williams said. "A major IB component in the classroom is inquiry. We want the children to ask questions, all types of questions, about what they want to learn, and reflect on what they are learning."
"These children here are the stars of the next generation," said JPS school superintendent Earl Watkins. "Davis worked hard for this authorization. Its teachers and students should be commended."
Only schools authorized by the IBO are eligible to teach the curriculum and to register graduating seniors for the IB exams that lead to the internationally recognized IB Diploma. Eleventh and 12th graders enrolled in the IB program at Jim Hill must take the full, comprehensive IB curriculum, meaning all of their classes must be IB-level.
Davis is the only elementary school in Mississippi with this designation, and one of only 71 elementary schools in North America offering the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program.
As a magnet school, Davis Magnet Elementary enrolls students from throughout Jackson. Getting your kids into it may prove difficult, however. The school is located on a section of Congress Street known for progressive generosity, and with well-monied adopters like Dale and Associates Architects, PA and neighboring attorneys like Pigott, Reeves, Johnson & Minor, the school brims with opportunities. Open slots are hard to come by as parents catch wind of the quality of facilities.