Wauwatosa Catholic authorized to become International Baccalaureate World School
Leaders of Wauwatosa Catholic School have announced they've been authorized to become an International Baccalaureate school, taking part in a worldwide program designed to teach students intercultural skills and how to live in a globalized economy.
That positions Wauwatosa Catholic to become the first Catholic elementary school in the state to achieve IB status, according to school leaders.
The school, which is the result of a 2011 merger between St. Pius X and St. Bernard schools, will take part in the IB's Primary Years Programme, geared toward students ages 3 to 12. The program in the primary school years aims to prepare children for IB programs at the high school level, where students can take rigorous tests that may be accepted as credit for universities.
"It means we're recognized worldwide for our rigorous curriculum," said Karen Scharrer-Erickson, IB coordinator at Wauwatosa Catholic and a former MPS teacher.
Schools that take part in the IB program follow state requirements in addition to using the IB curricula, which mandates that all students learn a second language.
Applying for the program usually takes about four years and includes incorporating IB components into teaching standards and having staff, parents and students reviewed by IB educators.
Wauwatosa Catholic was able to achieve the authorization in a shorter time frame, starting in 2011 under the leadership of former principal Julia D'Amato. A former Milwaukee Public Schools principal, D'Amato had spearheaded the IB program at Reagan High School. Now she's a principal at St. Anthony High School, a Catholic voucher school.
Scharrer-Erickson said Wauwatosa Catholic will be one of only seven Primary Years Programme IB schools in the state.
The school stemmed the tide of declining enrollment at St. Pius X and St. Bernard after the schools merged. Tosa Catholic enrolled about 229 students from K3 to eighth grade in 2013-'14, up from 205 in 2011.
Other private schools in Milwaukee have increased enrollment in recent years in part because of participating in the city's voucher program, which offers publicly funded tuition subsidies to qualified low- and moderate-income children.
Wauwatosa Catholic does not participate in the voucher program.
Scharrer-Erickson said the authorization may provide the school with another enrollment bump.
"IB has that name behind it, and parents that know the program love it," she said. "Our parents are already talking it up now."
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