St. Joan Antida High School has been authorized as Milwaukee’s newest International Baccalaureate (IB) World School, becoming the first girls-only high school to offer the prestigious IB Diploma program in Wisconsin. It is only one of 12 such schools in the United States. The authorization is a culmination of a three-year, in-depth analysis of the school’s written curriculum, and its ability to offer the required college-level course work. Starting with the 2015-2016 academic year, St. Joan Antida High School will begin offering students the rigorous college preparatory curriculum.
“It’s an exciting time for us,” stated Mr. Paul Gessner, SJA’s Head of School. Gessner has seen firsthand the impact that the IB’s challenging curriculum has on preparing urban youth to cultivate their potential and fully engage their future. Before assuming leadership at SJA in 2012, Mr. Gessner served for fifteen years as a teacher and administrator at Rufus King International School. “By implementing the IB Diploma Program at St. Joan Antida, we are empowering young women to excel at higher levels than a traditional curriculum allows. Poverty has never been an indicator of potential, and we want our young women to have every academic opportunity they need for success in their lives.”
To celebrate this achievement, the school will be hosting a reception on the evening of Wednesday, January 28th from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the school, located at 1341 N. Cass Street in Milwaukee. Scheduled to speak are Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Dr. Kathleen Cepelka, Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Milwaukee Archdiocese, Terrence Brown, Vice President of School Choice Wisconsin, and Sr. Anne Marie Baemmert, Provincial Leader of the Sisters of Charity of St. Joan Antida. State Senator Paul Farrow, State Representative JoCasta Zamarripa, and 4th District Alderman Bob Bauman are also scheduled to attend.
In addition to offering students high-level course work, the IB Diploma Program also places an emphasis on developing a life of inquiry, critical thinking, intercultural understanding, and leadership through service. Because the program offers challenging courses as well as international standardization, it is recognized by colleges and universities around the world as a premier academic curriculum, one that excels in preparing students for learning, working, and leading in a global economy.
“It’s time to change the discussion surrounding education in Milwaukee,” Gessner offered. “As a community, we need to stop talking about circumstances that students have, and instead should be implementing programs proven to help students overcome adversity and be prepared for higher education. In this, we can change the trajectory of poverty for our students and community. Becoming an IB World School is St. Joan Antida High School’s commitment to making that happen.”