International Baccalaureate Organization authorizes Kent State education program

Ashley Gerenday

Kent State’s early childhood education program is the first in the world to be certified to offer an international teaching certificate authorized by the International Baccalaureate Organization.

“You’re getting something here you can’t get at any other university in Ohio or in the world right now,” said Martha Lash, associate professor and coordinator of the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program at Kent State.

Schools recognized by the International Baccalaureate Organization, a leader in education, provide consistency in curriculum for students across the world, Lash said. They encourage the child to be an inquirer and to develop an understanding for cultures all over the world.

“It gives us more of a global view on learning,” said Cailin Bartolone, sophomore early childhood education major. “We can bring in all these different views from around the world and apply that to our teaching.”

Lash said students in the program graduating in 2015 and beyond will receive the IB Primary Years Program Certificate in Teaching and Learning as an embedded part of their curriculum. This certificate will allow them to teach not only in Ohio, but also in any one of the 128 countries that offer IB World Schools.

“We’ve been told by IBPYP [International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program] principals, just having that on their certificate, if they apply there, they’ll get an interview,” Lash said. “That’s huge.”

The certificate, Lash said, combined with an education from Kent State will help students.

“Coming to graduation, a lot of schools do look at Kent state students,” Bartolone said.

Lash said that the early childhood education program admits 40 to 50 students every semester, which allows students to teach children in preschool through third grade.

The hallmark of the program, Lash said, is the time students spend in the field. This time starts in the university’s lab school, which is located near the ice arena. The lab school serves 130 families from countries all over the world.

“We have one of the best lab schools, not only in Ohio, but I would say in the nation,” Lash said. “When IB came here for our on site visit, they said [it was] one of the best in the world.”

Before graduating, students go through a five-block program. In each block, they spend time in different types of schools, Lash said.

“We don’t know where they’re going to teach, whether it’s going to be urban, suburban, rural or now in one of these world schools,” Lash said.

One of these blocks will eventually include time spent in an IB school, Lash said. Students will then have a chance to experience and practice with the IB Primary Years Program.

“This would say to any principal that students understand inquiry; they know how to do planning, they know how to work with children for developing for research,” Lash said.

Those who do not go through Kent’s program and wish to obtain the IB Primary Years Program Certificate in Teaching and Learning could spend a couple thousand dollars, according to Lash.

Lash said that while they are still making adjustments to the program, it is exciting to have this authorization.

“There will be others to come,” Lash said. “But we’ll always have that designation as the first.”

Contact Ashley Gerenday at [email protected].