Promising Practices Program

Administering Organization

The International Community School (ICS) is a DeKalb County, Georgia Charter School

Program Name

International Community School

Program Objectives and Unique Needs Addressed

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.

Values: 

  • Academic Excellence: Students follow the Georgia Performance Standards  (GPS) of the Quality Core Curriculum, which is taught within the framework of the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IBPYP).  A challenging international program, the IBPYP enables students to employ an investigative, inquiry-based approach to learning.
  • Community in Diversity: ICS seeks a diverse student body and staff in terms of national, ethnic, religious and socio-economic backgrounds. The school helps students learn about the beliefs and traditions of others and encourages a respectful environment and global perspective.
  • Service-Oriented Education: ICS expects students to become independent learners and to feel responsibility for the life of their school community and the success of all its members. The school fosters a sense of service to others within and outside the school community.
  • Family and Community Partnerships: ICS partners with parents and community organizations to provide families with the educational, social and spiritual services they will need in a multicultural society.

Program Description

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.

Programs include: 

  • School Within the School (SWS):  This is a one-on-one tutoring program for students in first through fifth grades. It began in 2002 to address the needs of refugee children with little or no schooling in their home countries and has expanded over the years to serve American-born children as well. A staff of more than 40 dedicated volunteers works from 30 minutes to an hour one or more times a week, concentrating on reading and math.
  • After School Enrichment Program: The ICS After School Enrichment Program offers a safe and caring place where at no additional cost children can do homework and play with other children daily under the supervision of qualified staff. . The program offers a diverse and interesting selection of activities, including drama, dance, woodworking, chess, introduction to refugee cultures, track and tennis. In addition, a "Smart Club" lead by AmeriCorp volunteers provides challenging lessons in science, math and the arts.
  • Saturday School: Parents of ICS students have the opportunity to participate in a Saturday ESOL class taught by ICS volunteer teachers.  By enhancing their English communication skills, parents are better able to support their children's school activities.

Resource Materials Used in 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.

Groups Served by Program

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.

Program Funding

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.

Program Staffing and Required Staff Training

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.

Program Evaluation

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.

Program Outcomes

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!  

Additional Comments

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." 

Program Contact

(404) 499-8969

http://icsgeorgia.org/

Program Dates

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.