BY KARISSA MILLER
Statesville High School Principal Sheila Jenkins believes it’s important to challenge students of all ability levels. She’s not one to accept mediocrity, and she rejects views that kids from certain socio-economic backgrounds cannot achieve at high levels.
On Monday, Jenkins shared with the Iredell-Statesville Board of Education her vision for helping all students at Statesville High School succeed.
She wants to rebrand Statesville High as an International Baccalaureate school. The IB philosophy focuses on teaching students to think critically and challenge assumptions with a local and global mindset.
Implementation of the IB program could help the district turn around its lowest-performing high school, Jenkins said. Reaching new academic growth goals would help the district avoid the possibility of the state taking over the school in the future.
In her former role as Northview IBO World Middle School principal, Jenkins routinely told the parents of incoming sixth-graders that their child would likely fail at something during their time at Northview.
She would then share the positive. “We’re going to be there to help them when they fail and to teach them what they do when they fail,” she said.
At Statesville High, some of the students “fail every day and they still don’t have the skills they need to know what to do when they fail,” Jenkins said.
“IB can help them with that,” she explained. “They can help them know that failure is just one step – not the end result that leads to them dropping out of school or saying, ‘Forget this, I’m not doing anything the rest of this class period or this semester. It doesn’t matter. I failed the EOC what does it matter. I’m not doing this.’ ”
Jenkins believes that the IB program will give students the tools to work through failure, ensuring that they can learn through trial and error and become resilient as they enter adulthood.
She asked the school board members for their support and confidence. The board has to approve the funding for an IB coordinator position, but not the program itself.
The board will weigh in on the matter and continue the discussion during its next meeting on Monday, January 13.
Superintendent Brady Johnson told the school board Monday that does not know of a better alternative for Statesville High. If board members are opposed to implementing IB at the school, board members should share their Plan B with him, Johnson said.
Jenkins said that the program would encourage teachers and students to work hard. Teachers take great pride in being IB educators and commit to that program, she added.
When IB was added to the I-SS district, it was done with the intention of offering a K-12 pathway across the county. Expanding the IB program to Statesville High would achieve that for the northern end of the county.
Current I-SS board members, however, have raised questions about the plan to add the program at Statesville High.
The IB Roadmap
♦ Incoming Northview sixth graders would be required to attend Statesville High if they want to attend IB for grades 9-12.
♦ Statesville High will begin formal IB training of staff during the 2020-2021 school year.
♦ Statesville High would apply for IB candidacy as a Middle Years Programme in Spring 2020 for ninth and 10th grades.
♦ The school would apply for IB authorization in 2021-2022 for IB MYP Programme.
♦ Statesville High would offer the IB diploma programme and career-related programs in the future.
♦ IB would be optional. Students who wish to continue at Statesville High in the traditional high school program could do so.
♦ The AP Academy will continue to be offered at Statesville High.