Tujuanna Austin’s parents don’t push her to do well in school—she pushes herself. She’s always been driven. From her early years as a primary student in Guyana, to middle school and secondary school in Peel, Tujuanna’s determination, goal of becoming a doctor and positive outlook on life have kept her moving forward.
Since grade 7, Austin has attended the International Business and Technology (IBT) program, first at Allan A. Martin Sr. Public School in Mississauga, and now at North Park Secondary School in Brampton. The grade 12 student is incredibly involved—from sports to drama to charity work. She enjoys all aspects of school life, and the IBT program in particular.
“I think being in the program gives me an advantage,” says Austin. “We’re living in the information age—one that’s based on access to technology. In the IBT program, technology is part of every class and assignment. We use class blogs and some of our textbooks are completely electronic. The program has kept school exciting for me.”
Students in North Park’s IBT program learn the same content as students in the regular program—it’s how it’s taught that’s different. In addition to the use of technology, the program involves a lot of group work, with a strong focus on real-world application of concepts and many cross-curricular assignments. For example, students will create an iPhone application in the computer technology course, and then collaborate with students in marketing and graphic design courses to determine how to package and market the app. In accounting, students analyze the financial results of a real company.
Annalisa James, math teacher and head of IBT at North Park, believes IBT and programs like it fill an important need. “So often we focus on creating programs to support students who are at risk—this is vital and the programs are very necessary. But it’s important we don’t forget about our high-achieving students. Some of these students need something extra to keep them engaged in school. They want to be challenged and can handle more complex assignments.”
Any student can apply for the IBT program—students who are accepted do well academically, and are motivated and hard-working. Acceptance is based on grades, learning skills, a written submission and a teacher reference.
Tujuanna believes it necessary to provide options for students. “Some students want to focus more on a particular topic that interests them—like sports, arts or technology. Choice programs allow students to complete the regular curriculum, but provide that extra focus that makes them look forward to coming to school,” she notes.
Peel board schools offer various educational opportunities to help all students achieve, and many ways for students and their families to personalize their school experiences. From extra-curricular activities and unique courses, to entire programs devoted to an area of interest, the choices are vast and are designed with students’ various needs and interests in mind. Students and their families are encouraged to speak to their guidance counsellors about what options exist that may match their interests and abilities. More information about the options available, including regional programs like IBT or Specialist High Skills Major programs is available at www.peelschools.org/parents/programs