The International Community School (ICS) is a DeKalb County, Georgia Charter School
International Community School
Vision: The international Community School (ICS) seeks staff and families who are committed to the vision of creating a supportive community of students, staff and parents, learning from each other and celebrating diversity. The school seeks to build and nurture the Beloved Community that Dr. Martin Luther King envisioned.
Mission: The International Community School provides refugee, immigrant and local children with a rigorous and holistic education at the elementary school level. The school explores and celebrates cultural differences in a challenging, nurturing and intentionally multi-ethnic environment.
The International Community School was strategically designed to bring together refugee, immigrant and native-born children in an academically challenging and nurturing environment. Since founded in 2002, thousands of refugee children have come to DeKalb County. In fact, the county is home to the highest percentage of refugees in the southeastern United States. The students bring many talents but also the deep physical and spiritual wounds of war. This program addresses the unique needs of child survivors of war for supplemental educational and social services. With a low teacher/student ratio of 1 to 12, ICS provides students different opportunities to learn within the IBPYP and GPS frameworks. And unlike many other public schools, the curriculum includes art, music, drama, and physical education at least four times a week. It also includes daily classes in French or Spanish for English-proficient students. Tutoring is available during the school day and after-school, as needed. Additional programs are available for students, some free and others with costs based on the criteria from the Federal Free and Reduced Cost Meal program.
The International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program is a framework for the Georgia Performance Standards of the Quality Core Curriculum. The IBPYP is a trans-disciplinary program of international education designed to focus on the development of the whole child. In addition to academic development, it encompasses social, physical, emotional and cultural needs. The Georgia Performance Standards (GPS) are the state-mandated, standards-based curriculum for English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies.
The school serves refugee, immigrant and local children from DeKalb County, Georgia. The students represent 40 countries and 25 languages. Students also represent an economic mix seldom seen in America's schools. Approximately half of the students are refugees or immigrants, and more than half of the students receive free or reduced lunch.
ICS is a tuition free charter school. Funding comes from a variety of sources, including federal, county, and state funds supplemented by donations from individuals, foundations, businesses, faith groups, and corporations.
The staff includes homeroom teachers, special-subject teachers, program coordinators, counselors, media specialists, administrators and assistants. Because teachers and staff are from 17 countries, they understand the children's life experiences and can help provide a voice for those not yet proficient in English. Training for new and returning staff is an integral part of the school's philosophy. It begins with an orientation week with additional staff-building trainings throughout the year as needed. Topics include community building activities, on-going certification training in IBPYP skills and working within the GPS framework.
ICS has met the requirements for No Child Left Behind for the past four years, since it began. It was commended by the Georgia Board of Education this year, one of two schools for disadvantaged children to receive the commendation. ICS began tracking evaluative measures last school year, and expects to see the trends in the school over the next few years.
ICS is an award winning school where over the past three years there has been a steady rise in student scores in reading, and 85 percent of students meet or exceed expectations in English. There also has been a significant rise over the last two years in math and science scores. Also noteworthy is the school's very high attendance rate that consistently averages 98 percent because the children like school!
ICS's ability to provide a creative learning environment for a remarkably diverse student body has captured the interest of leading national media, including The New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, CNN's School for Thought and NPR. ICS is also the subject of a documentary film, "A Place in the World."
Since founded in 2002, ICS has grown to be one of the most successful charter schools in the state, with an anticipated 432 students enrolled in the fall of 2014.