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Primary Years IB program going strong at North Vista Elementary

North Vista Elementary School recently held a Principal’s Breakfast where an update was given on the school’s Primary Years International Baccalaureate Program (PYP).

North Vista PYP, in its second year as a PYP candidate school, is comprised of 40 teachers and seven other members of personnel. More than half of the total PYP staff have completed category 1 training; eight others have completed category 2 training. North Vista PYP Coordinator Holly Shirey and two PYP teachers also visited a PYP school in Lexington to see first-hand how the program was being implemented there.

PYP Display at Principal's Breakfast

Similar to the process of applying for the IB programs at Williams Middle School and Wilson High School, Florence 1 students outside the North Vista zone can apply to attend the PYP program. In the last year, 39 students outside of the North Vista zone were accepted to participate in the program.

“The IB program is growing a lot in Florence 1 Schools,” Shirey said. “We were excited to welcome nearly 40 students who applied and were accepted for this program.”

Walking down the hallways in North Vista, visitors will see many pieces of student work that reflect the units that students are studying. Each month, students delve into one IB Learner Profile trait. This trait is incorporated into their many areas of study, including classroom readings of books with storylines relating to that month’s trait.

PYP Learner Trait books on display

“Students seem to really connect to these traits when they are introduced and reinforced through reading,” Shirey said. “Within our classrooms, kindergarten through sixth grade, Learner Profile attributes are posted around the room so that students are continually reminded of the type of learner they are striving to be.”

The IB Learner Profile traits are knowledgeable, caring, balanced, inquiring, communicating, principled, risk-taking, open-minded, reflective, thinking.

As part of the internationally-minded curriculum of the International Baccalaureate program, students complete community service projects throughout the year. During the month of October students at North Vista, Williams and Wilson collected more than $900 to donate to UNICEF. 

For the 2019-2020 school year, North Vista has six goals for PYP. One of those goals relates specifically to units of inquiry, multi-week in-depth studies of a concept. PYP teachers in K-6 will teach four units of inquiry this school year and are working on writing their own units of inquiry. 

North Vista PYP staff are in on-going conversations with the International Baccalaureate Organization and the South Carolina IB Community, submitting samples of their work to IB professionals to receive feedback on ways to improve their efforts. A consultant also recently visited the school for professional development for PYP teachers regarding Concept Driven Learning.

“It is really helpful for the staff at North Vista to be able to see what is going on at other schools and to also have connections with IB professionals who can help guide us through the candidacy process,” Shirey said. “The wealth of knowledge that they can share will strengthen the program we have at North Vista. In turn, having events like the Principal’s Breakfast and interest meetings with parents help us spread the IB message and give our community a better understanding of our program.”

If you are interested in attending North Vista Elementary for PYP, please contact Holly Shirey 843-758-6310 or