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Idlewild Elementary named International Baccalaureate World School

Lakewood school committed to international education

Idlewild Elementary School in Lakewood receives prestigious recognition. Photo courtesy of Facebook

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It's official, there's a school in Lakewood serving civilian and military students that is on the cutting edge of education.

Clover Park School District's (CPSD) Idlewild Elementary School recently announced its has authorization as an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School that implements the Primary Years Program (PYP). Idlewild is the third school in Washington to attain this designation and implement the PYP and the first in Pierce County.

"We always ask what we can give our kids that will set them apart," said Idlewild principal Jim Pfeiffer.

The PYP is designed for kindergarten through fifth-grade students encompassing social, physical, emotional and cultural needs in addition to academics.

When the staff began to look into pursuing the IB authorization, they visited the only other two schools in the state that had achieved it, which are both located in Bellingham.

Idlewild became a candidate school for the program in Spring 2012 and started the application process to become an IB World School. As part of that, Idlewild was required to teach an additional language (other than English) to its students and Spanish was selected. All Idlewild students in full-day kindergarten and through fifth-grade began classes in Spanish during the 2012-13 school year.

That final paperwork was turned in Oct. 1, 2013, and then IB World representatives visited Idlewild to meet with staff, paraeducators, students and parents in order to ensure that everything was in place to become an authorized IB World School. The notice that they were approved was just received this month.

"There is so much on educators' plates already, but everyone here was willing to accept more hours and take on more work in order to benefit the students," explained Susan Morgan, the IB program primary coordinator at Idlewild. "This is a philosophy that we all bought into."

Things have now come full circle and other schools in the state have now been visiting Idlewild to see everything in operation.  

"This is a huge accomplishment," said Pfeiffer. "Our school has always been a high-waiver school, meaning that students attend here by choice."

In fact, there are presently 420 students enrolled at Idlewild and 70 percent of those are enrolled based on a waiver. This designation will likely continue to drive the number of students seeking waivers for admittance to Idlewild, especially when it comes to the area's shifting military population.

"We are starting to see more of a military population at our school," Pfeiffer confirmed.

Nearby Harrison Preparatory School - also part of CPSD - implements the Middle Years Program, so many Idlewild students can continue with the IB approach after fifth grade. Furthermore, despite the official authorization, Morgan stated that there would still be fine-tuning as well as training and that the IB methodology is a continuous, evolving process.

"We are opening their eyes to the fact that there is a whole world out there," Morgan said. "This approach has the kids taking the extra step and being independent, it is a foundation that gives them attitudes and perceptions that will make them successful."  

For more information on Idlewild, which is at 10806 Idlewild Road SW in Lakewood, go to

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