Meet the IB teachers!

Christina Rouw (IB English & IB coordinator)

How does IB encourage students to pursue a higher level of education?

“In addition to IB being a program like AP where you’re looking at higher-level courses, IB prepares students for the coursework they’re going to do in college. For example, the assessments that we do aren’t all just in May—some of them are actually in the classroom and based on what’s actually taught in the class. Students get the opportunity to do real college-level research and college-level work in the class that is then part of their assessment. So students get to have a more genuine experience of college. In addition, a lot of universities view IB students as being higher-level students who have taken the most rigorous classes on their campus, so that opens up doors for them that maybe otherwise wouldn’t be open.”

For students who don’t know, what exactly do you do as the IB coordinator?

“I do a lot of paperwork. I do a lot of registrations. I do a lot of parent meetings—the eighth-grade parents, the ninth-grade parents, the tenth-grade parents. I also plan events for the juniors and seniors, I make sure everyone knows when the due dates are for their exams. I spend a lot of time working with the [IB] teachers, helping them set their schedules for their Internal Assessments, making sure they have the right training because they have to be trained fairly regularly. [I also have to] make sure that what we do with the IB program is aligned with the whole school’s goals.”

What are your favorite duties as a staff member of this school?

“I like to teach! I absolutely love teaching, I love being in the classroom, I love working with students, I love how insightful students are. I teach freshmen and seniors and I love seeing the growth between them, especially when I have [students] as seniors after I’ve already had them as freshmen. I don’t consider teaching itself work, it’s all the other stuff that’s work.”

What is your favorite food and why?

“Sweet or savory! Savory will go with a salmon nigiri.”

Kenneth Kakimoto (IB Math Applications)

What are some extra challenges IB students face compared to non-IB students?

“The main challenge is like in an AP class—they have to do a written test in May and they have to pass that. Then they have extra things like research papers called ‘Internal Assessments.’ Also, there are more benchmark things to pass to get to IB; you have to earn a lot more credit.”

How would you describe the way you teach your IB class?

“For any honors class like IB, since there’s so much to cover and it’s more structuring the class so that they can actually teach themselves. It’s not 100% them teaching themselves, it’s just that the more that they can learn on their own the more they can remember.”

Which of the clubs you advise is your favorite and why?

“I don’t have a favorite! I advise EcoCloset and DudeBeNice—it’s my first year! They’re both pretty organized already; it’s one of the reasons why I wanted to advise those clubs, b

because I don’t want to have to advise them that much.”

What are some of the things you like to do outside of school?

“I like to hang out with friends and family and watch sports.”

Elizabeth Orth (IB Spanish)

For what reasons would you recommend IB to students?

“IB is so worthwhile because you learn about the world around you and how what you’re learning in all of your classes combines to know what is happening outside of our community; outside of what’s here. So if we combine, say, science and foreign language or English with psychology and so forth, everything that we learn makes us think about the world around us. Also, you have such a great support system. Every IB teacher and the coordinator work really hard to individualize your learning plan so you get the best out of your high school years.”

How would you briefly describe IB for those who don’t know what it is?

“IB—International Baccalaureate—is a curriculum worldwide where all students that are in the IB program are learning the same themes and studying the same topics around the world. [Compared] to AP, which is centralized within the United States and Canada, IB is worldwide, so you gain a global perspective of becoming a global citizen. The rigor prepares you for college much more than any other program; if you graduate with an IB diploma, you are definitely college and career-ready. You will definitely excel at the college level by having [experienced] classes that mimic what a college experience is during high school.”

How has COVID impacted the way you teach?

“Now, forming groups which we would’ve readily done in class now has to be done outside. [Also, class] is more of an electronic group formed through Canvas. I am glad that we are back in school because you can actually physically talk to people, but if you want to form groups you have to do that outside or digitally. So that part has impacted the way I teach. There’s also the way I collect papers—I’m not fully digital, but instead of passing out a bunch of papers, it’s now ‘Look on Canvas’; you can annotate the worksheets on Canvas and turn them in there. And I used to [have students] turn in their notebooks, but now I don’t look at them at all. But [going digital] means that I can email students [about missing assignments], and for the good. That’s just how we teach now and how students turn in assignments and get feedback.”

Do you have any pet peeves?

“I don’t know if it’s a pet peeve, but I’ve noticed students have what I call ‘brain fog.’ I think kids are having a hard time adjusting to [being back at school] and studying. Before, they could just look up [the answers] on their computer or their phone or their book. But now [that we’re back in school,] I’m teaching kids how to study all over again. I call that ‘brain fog.’ There are also the dreaded earbuds. I call them the ‘white earrings.’ They’re so noise-canceling; kids need to decide what is important at the time that they have them. And sometimes the kids forget they have one in, and they might not even be listening to anything they just have it on. That is my biggest pet peeve: ‘the ‘white earrings.’ The earbuds. Because [wearing them] means they don’t want to listen to me; they don’t want to hear you. It annoys me more than the cellphones.”

Josipa Casey (IB Philosophy)

How does IB differentiate itself from AP classes? 

“IB is a diploma program versus just prepping for a one-time test [in AP]; it is extensive and covers a two-year time commitment by students, and it’s a holistic approach to education and to the student.”

Do you have a favorite memory of your IB class? If so, what is it?

“Each class is so unique; there’s not really one that stands out. But the class of 2020 is always going to be close to my heart because we had closed down right before they graduated. We really bonded over the pandemic; we had movie nights over Zoom [using the screen share feature] and Netflix. I’m still in touch with just about all of those kiddos and we make time to see each other on our own time, which is really neat. But as for a specific memory, that would be our retreats in the fall and our holiday party [that the cohorts of entire IB classes partake in].”

What are some ways you check for students’ understanding in your classroom?

“Pausing often and asking questions of them either asking if they have questions or something new I’m trying this year is I’m asking them to write down a question. So it forces students to really think about any questions they might have versus asking if they have any questions and they have blank stares.”

What is your favorite song and why?

“U2’s ‘Beautiful Day’. It comes from my favorite album that U2 produced and it was actually the wedding song at my wedding. After we said our vows, we were walking down the aisle and ‘Beautiful Day’ played.”

Judy Chap (IB Biology)

What inspired you to teach IB classes?

“To be perfectly honest, I was ‘voluntold.’ [2019] was actually my first year of teaching high school and the IB Biology teaching position was open, so I was basically told.”

How do you connect your lessons to the real world?

“There’s about ten IB learner profiles and the IB program’s philosophy is to teach our students to become internationally minded. So they learn about the subject and how it applies internationally. Everything they’ve learned they can connect to the real world and how it can make an impact.”

You’re a relatively new teacher at this school. What’s your favorite part about working here?

“The staff, the environment. They’re very welcoming. I feel like this is my second family and although I’m relatively new, I feel welcomed. I feel that’s a huge part of performing your best and doing your best.”

What is your favorite movie and why?

“I like romcoms. I don’t really have one favorite movie, but I do like Adam Sandler movies. Click might be one of my favorite movies just because it’s funny and it hits the emotional side as well; I’m a huge family person so when the dad died, I cried too.”

Suzanna Wann (IB Chinese)

What are the appeals of taking an IB class?

“There are some benefits of taking IB class. One is when you take the IB exam, you get college credit just like [when you take the AP test], even if it is only your second year of school. So, that is the most beneficial part of taking an IB class.”

What inspired you to teach IB?

“I enjoy teaching IB because Chinese literature is so interesting. There are a lot of good stories in it.”

Is there anything you’ve learned from your students?

“Yes! Since [there are so many] Chinese languages and cultures, no one person is able to learn everything. So I can learn from students of all different areas.”

Do you have any hobbies? If so, what are they?

“Reading. I love reading classic Chinese novels and poems.”


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