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### Leon County’s First International Baccalaureate Elementary School: Hartsfield Makes History

Hartsfield Elementary students are undergoing a shift in their educational experience, embracing an alternative curriculum and teaching approach aimed at fostering awareness of their impact on the world.

With the onset of the 2024 Spring semester, Hartsfield attained the status of an authorized school, marking a significant milestone for the institution.

This initiative marks a pioneering effort within the district, paving the way for students to progress towards IB programs at Fairview Middle and Rickards High.

District 2, represented by Leon County School Board chair Rosanne Wood, which includes Hartsfield, commended the dedicated efforts of the school’s leaders and teachers over the past five years in achieving authorization as an IB World School Primary Years Program. Wood expressed her delight, stating, “They did it, and it’s well worth celebrating.”

The IB PYP program emphasizes a project-based instructional approach, encouraging students to engage actively in their learning process to meet established standards effectively.

Tailored for students aged 3-12, the program employs inquiry-based learning methods deemed essential by school administrators to promote academic rigor and cultivate critical thinking skills from an early age.

Hartsfield initiated the application process for the IB PYP in 2019, receiving candidacy approval in January 2020. The integration of the IB curriculum took place during the 2021-22 academic year, coinciding with the school’s transition to a magnet school for international studies.

Situated in the Indianhead Acres neighborhood, Hartsfield holds a Title I designation, indicating its eligibility for federal assistance due to a significant portion of students coming from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

Fayon Jones, the school’s IB coordinator, emphasized the importance of providing extra support to students facing social and economic challenges, citing statistics that underscore the need for targeted interventions in such cases.

Principal John Olson affirmed that all students at Hartsfield will participate in the program, equipping them with critical thinking skills essential for their transition to middle school, offering a unique educational experience distinct from traditional classroom settings.

The primary years program not only imparts research skills but also emphasizes social skills, self-management, and foreign language acquisition, setting a strong foundation for students’ academic journey.

Through project-based learning, students in PYP classrooms are encouraged to explore learning opportunities beyond conventional methods, enabling them to demonstrate their skills through performance and project-based assessments.

Despite the school’s recent D grade performance, Principal Olson remains optimistic about the transformative impact of the new teaching approach on student outcomes.

Acknowledging the challenges faced in English language arts, math, and science assessments, Olson highlighted the collective efforts of the school and community to enhance student performance, expressing confidence in Hartsfield’s trajectory towards becoming a high-performing institution in the near future.