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Guest Blog: An IB Parent’s Journey

Guest Blog: An IB Parent’s Journey

By: Cindy Conkle

“She’s a smart egg. I can tell.”

Those words would be music to the ears of any parent, but was especially meaningful after learning that the man who

Abby and resident playing a game of checkers during Coit Creative Arts Academy’s Civic Duty field trip to Samaritas Senior Living Center.

spoke them to me is a retired teacher, principal and general educator for some twenty odd years. He was speaking about my daughter, Abby, as she sat beside him playing a game of checkers during her Civic Duty field trip to Samaritas Senior Living Center. I was honored to be able to join her and her Coit Creative Arts Academy Kindergarten classmates during their trip as part of the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum.

Civic duty is important to Coit and to me! They begin early by introducing civic duty and global learning in Kindergarten. This is because Coit is becoming a Primary Years Program, an IB elementary school.

The Samaritas Senior Living Center set up stations for our students to interact with the residents through games, drawing, storytelling, and drumming on yoga balls. And of course and most importantly to the kids, snack time. From an outsiders view, this might have been seen as just time playing, but it was really about learning from each other- students learning from the seniors and vice versa. It was about feeling the energy, seeing the smiles, and communicating with a different section of our community than many of us get to do. This is IB for a kindergarten class. The students are learning who they are, where they are in this time and place and how the world works.


Abby riding the bus during her Civic Duty Field Trip

For example, students were given a tour of the Senior Living center and were shown the gym, the wood-working shop, the rec room, library, and many other places. The students then identified the things they saw with things they also have at Coit. For instance, the mirrors in the gym are just like the mirrors in the student’s dance classroom! At the library, the senior residents can borrow books, just like at Coit. And the special activities center at the Living Center was just like at the special activities centers at school. It was fun to watch the kids identify the many similarities to their lives, but also the differences like students don’t live at or eat dinner at their school! It was awesome to see them compare and contrast their lives.

To round out the fun Civic Duty Field Trip, the kids sang “Mr. Golden Sun” as a way to say thank you for their time spent with the residents. At the end of the song, the students and residents were smiling! I especially noticed the smile on my new friend’s face. He was delighted to be surrounded by kids like the ones he had been educating for all of those years.

It’s a joy and an honor for me to be present during field trips like this one – an adventure in IB learning! I’m thankful for my daughter’s experiences thus far, and for those experiences she will have and I’m thankful to be a parent at this unique GRPS School.

Coit Creative Arts Academy is one of 13 theme schools in Grand Rapids Public Schools and is currently transitioning into a Primary Years Program that looks to develop students’ academic, social and emotional well-being, while also focusing on international-mindedness and strong personal values. Students at Coit learn through visual arts, music, dance, and performance. At Coit’s core, providing students with art-based education that incorporates the arts into ALL subjects is vital to life-long success!