New London's RMMS honored with national IB accreditation

New London — The Regional Multicultural Magnet School officially was named an International Baccalaureate school this month, an honor Principal Susan Iwanicki called a “testament to the legacy of RMMS as an innovative school."

Official approval that the school met the criteria for the IB Primary Years Program came on April 11, making it the first elementary school in the southeastern region of the state to offer an accredited IB program.

C.B. Jennings Dual Language and International Elementary Magnet and the International Education portion of Bennie Dover Jackson Middle schools are both in the candidacy phase of IB programs.

The IB Primary Years Program is offered for students ages 3 to 12 and helps “develop students’ academic, social and emotional wellbeing, focusing on international-mindedness and strong personal values,” the International Baccalaureate Organization states. “The PYP nurtures independent learning skills, encouraging every student to take responsibility for their learning.”

Students in the program outperformed non-IB students in mathematics, reading and writing in a global International Schools’ Assessment study that ran from 2009 to 2011.

Iwanicki said the school, committed to diversity and multiculturalism, already shared many aspects of the IB model.

“We will now be able to extend our hands-on approach to learning from our local programming and community partnerships to over 900 authorized PYP schools worldwide,” Iwanicki said in a statement.

RMMS, which opened in 1992 and lays claim to being the oldest interdistrict magnet elementary school in the country, is run by Old Lyme-based LEARN. About 520 students in kindergarten through fifth grade attend the school from more than 20 towns.

The school applied to IB in 2015 and was accepted as an IB Primary Years Program candidate school in 2016. It has since undergone curriculum development and review, building on programs that celebrate diversity and inclusiveness, such as the Puentes Dual Language immersion program and added more STEAM — science, technology, engineering, arts, and math — offerings.

“Recognition from the IB reflects the hard work and dedication of RMMS educators and gives a global lens to student’s learning that is so critical for creating future citizens,” said Lynne Ramage, the school’s IB coordinator, in a statement.

The school is planning a celebration for later this spring.

“We are delighted that RMMS has achieved this distinction,” said Eileen Howley, LEARN’s retiring executive director, said in a statement. “IB is a natural fit with the school’s more than 25 years of providing multicultural education to its students in southeastern Connecticut. We are all so proud of the faculty and staff and their dedication to continuous learning and strengthening the school’s program for the children and families that they serve.”

Iwanicki said work could not have been accomplished without the dedication of staff and the support of the families.

“We have always been united in our efforts to empower students to become active, compassionate, lifelong learners, but we are thoroughly excited as this authorization opens us to a whole new international level for our students,” Iwanicki said.

 g.smith@theday.com

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