ABOVE: Jack Yates Principal Tiffany Guillory, HISD Interim Superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan and Jack Yates IB Coordinator Marlon Watkins
What exciting news coming from leaders at the Houston Independent School District (HISD), as a major press conference was held last week to announce that the historic Jack Yates High School has gained the new status as an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School!
This is huge news, in that Yates now becomes only the fifth high school campus in HISD to receive the official authorization to offer the Diploma Programme.
Yates will begin offering the IB Diploma Programme to juniors and seniors at the start of the 2020-2021 school year. The IB Diploma Programme is for students ages 16 to 19 and is currently only offered at Bellaire, Chávez, Heights, and Lamar high schools.
Yates, under the leadership of Principal Tiffany Guillory, is one of nine HISD schools supported by the district as part of Interim Superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan’s initiative to expand the number of IB campuses in geographically diverse areas across the city.
“Yates’ IB authorization reflects our ongoing commitment to excellence for all students,” said Dr. Lathan. “We are determined to close student achievement gaps by providing a rigorous, meaningful, and integrated curriculum that will provide global opportunities for students.”
Founded in 1968, IB is a nonprofit international educational foundation that offers challenging educational programs for students ages 3 to 19 to help develop their intellectual, personal, emotional, and social skills to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world.
Achieving IB authorization is a demanding and lengthy process during which schools must align their curriculum to IB standards and train all their teachers in the IB philosophy. The IB diploma, which reflects a rigorous education, allows students to enter Texas public universities with 24 credit hours if they score four or higher on their IB exams.
“Every student, regardless of that student’s place in life, deserves the very best education possible,” said Karen Phillips, Executive Director for Texas IB Schools. “A student shouldn’t have to go to a special school, to a magnet school or to an academy to get a quality education. So the fact that here at Yates, we have a neighborhood school, a community school, that now has this high level of academic standard that students in the neighborhood can take advantage of.”
Former HISD Trustee Jolanda Jones spoke and was moved to tears as she talked about her father and relatives who attended Yates and all that she did to fight to help the school get back its feeder pattern and working with the JY alumni to address issues at the school.
“Five years ago this was unimaginable,” said Jones. “Yates was in IR (Improvement Required) status and in danger of closure. We worked together and worked hard and worked smart and now we are here. I am immensely thankful that I was able to support Superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan, her great team at HISD, Principal Tiffany Guillory, the JY staff, the teachers, support staff, students, parents and alumni. It was a true team effort.”
With the inclusion of the Diploma Programme at Yates, HISD currently offers 28 IB Programmes across the district. Fifteen additional campuses are seeking IB Programme status, including Foster Elementary and Cullen Middle schools. Once authorized, Foster, Cullen, and Yates will create the first continuous IB feeder pattern for this school community.
“Our students will now have access to challenging international programs and the benefits that come with the IB program,” said Marlon Watkins, Jack Yates IB Coordinator. “Two years ago, I stepped on the campus at 3703 Sampson, and now we are an authorized IB World School. This is a milestone, but it’s not the finish line. With this new IB program, we can help prepare students for living and working in a highly complex and interconnected world.”
Yates is currently accepting students via International Baccalaureate choice program transfers. Applications are due February 29 and are available online at ChooseHISD.com, and in paper form at school campuses or at HISD’s Office of School Choice located at the Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center, 4400 West 18th St., 77092.
For assistance or more information, parents and students may visit the Office of School Choice or call 713-556-6784.