Deerwood Academy became the eighth school in Atlanta Public Schools to be awarded International Baccalaureate (IB) certification. The elementary school, located in the Ben Hill neighborhood of southwest Atlanta, became the first school in APS outside the IB pipeline that runs schools on the north side of the metro Atlanta area and culminates at North Atlanta High School. The other schools are Morris Brandon, Garden Hills, Warren T. Jackson, E. Rivers and Sarah Smith elementary schools, and Sutton Middle School.
As an IB school, Deerwood Academy offers a more globally oriented curriculum as well as projects that include E-Pal (pen-pal) relationships with students around the world. The program is divided into three phases that loosely mirror elementary, middle and high school years, respectively.
The program also emphasizes a comprehensive educational approach that encourages students to develop several character traits, including being open-minded, reflective, balanced and principled.
“In the primary (elementary) years, the focus is on developing students in to inquiring people who care about the world and different cultures and understand they’re not the only human beings on the earth,” explained Deerwood Academy IB Facilitator Shelitha Nelms, who has worked with Principal Dr. Lisa Smith on the school’s IB certification since 2006. APS announced Friday that Dr. Smith would return to be Deerwood’s principal on July 1 after being cleared in an investigation of CRCT test-answer anomalies.
Nelms credited Smith for the certification: “It was her vision in terms of what she saw for Deerwood, and then being able to mold teachers and say, ‘This is what we really want for our students.’ None of this would be possible without her.”