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International School of Beaverton (ISB)

What makes the International School of Beaverton unique can't be seen on the hallway walls, or inside any classroom. It's a culture of high expectations and acceptance that isn't explicitly taught. "The way the students treat one another and go about their learning tasks is part of a school culture that I think was very carefully designed and is carried forward in a very subtle way," says Principal Jill O'Neill.

Here is an example. A 6th grade teacher doesn't tell students that they have to push in their chairs at the end of class, or when they leave the library. During the first week of school she will say, "I don't want you to be surprised when you walk into the library and all the chairs are pushed in, because that's just the way we do it at ISB." Or if a student drops their backpack full of books in the hallway, "I don't want you to think it's weird if a student drops their backpack and a lot of people bend down to help pick them up, because that's just the way it is at ISB."

Students in 6th through 10th grades are part of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme (MYP), while juniors and seniors participate in the IB Diploma Programme. "The IB Diploma program is recognized by universities as being the most rigorous curriculum in the United States. It really pushes kids to go deeper into their learning," says O'Neill. In addition to academics, the IB Diploma Programme requires students to devote 150 hours outside of school toward being well balanced, through community service, creativity and action. Students must look outside of themselves through service and be able to connect that community service with learning in the classroom. They write reflections on those activities.

O'Neill says having strong teachers is critical, "When you combine the love of children and strong content mastery, you've got an incredible equation there. Teachers are really flexible and willing to differentiate for kids."

This year, ISB is preparing to graduate its 6th class of 75 seniors.