Whitby School teachers at the Guild of International Baccalaureate Schools (GIBS) Conference in Weehawken, NJ. From left, Primary Years Program (PYP) Coordinator Diana Ljepoja, Head of Lower School Silvia Gentile, Design Teacher Phil Lohmeyer, Lower School Teacher Samantha Clark, and Middle Years Program (MYP) Coordinator Shelley Castro (Photo by Joe Curry Photography, @joecurryphotography, #joecurryphotography) (contributed photo)
Two teachers from Whitby School in Greenwich presented at the annual Guild of International Baccalaureate Schools (GIBS) Conference on October 18 and 19. The conference was hosted by GIBS, an Association of International Baccalaureate World Schools in North America Northeast, in Weehawken, NJ. Educator workshops were hosted by Middle Years Program (MYP) Design Teacher Phil Lohmeyer, of Cos Cob, and Primary Years Program (PYP) Coordinator Diana Ljepoja, of Stamford. Other Whitby participants included Head of Lower School Silvia Gentile, MYP Coordinator Shelley Castro, and Lower School Teacher Samantha Clark. Trevor Mackenzie, Canadian educator and author Dive Into Inquiry (2019) and Inquiry Mindset (2018), headlined the conference by speaking on the importance of inquiry in the classroom. Mackenzie called the conference “the ideal opportunity to meet and collaborate with IB educators from the northeast.”
Breakout sessions began with Phil Lohmeyer’s presentations about impact-driven initiatives, led alongside Whitby students. His first session, Upcycling & Cerealism: Whitby's Upper School and Lower Elementary Working Together, presented an approach to collage-making with discarded cardboard inspired by designer Michael Albert. Said Lohmeyer, “Several teachers noted that since China is no longer purchasing printed cardboard for recycling, we need to 'upcycle' these materials ourselves.” His second session, May Whitby's Force be With You: Impact of The Rookie Wookies, explained how students raised over $3,000 for UNICEF Kid Power. Said Lohmeyer of the workshops, “Whitby strives to create impact-focused student programming. It was an honor to raise awareness for potential ‘upcycling’ efforts in schools, while also recruiting others to fundraise for UNICEF Kid Power at the GIBS conference.”
Program discussions co-hosted by Diana Ljepoja centered on student agency, with a focus on voice, choice and ownership. “Student agency can be explored as the connection between the head and the heart,” said Ljepoja. She added, “When students have agency, the relationship between the teacher and students becomes a partnership. It’s important to find as many opportunities as possible for students to co-construct success criteria for their learning.” Ljepoja, a member of the GIBS Board of Directors, helped to plan the conference with President Jim Meyer, Director of Communications Jessica Gilcreast, and the GIBS board. The event featured two days of professional development opportunities for Heads of Schools, teachers, and district officials in the IB Americas region. Says Gilcreast, “Educators were able to discover new ideas, learn from IB practitioners, and leave with inspiration and renewed energy to bring back to their schools.” To learn more about future GIBS conferences in the northeast, email Diana Ljepoja at firstname.lastname@example.org, or for information about Whitby-led educator workshops, email Phil Lohmeyer at email@example.com.