Winter Haven’s Denison Middle School has been designated a Cambridge International School, becoming the first middle school in Polk County to offer curriculum affiliated with the University of Cambridge.
“This is great news for Winter Haven and Polk County as a whole,” said Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd. “At Polk County Public Schools, we’re committed to offering our students unique learning opportunities and preparing them for future success. The Cambridge curriculum engages students’ natural curiosity and fosters critical-thinking and research skills. It’s wonderful preparation for future academic study, and an exciting addition to our educational offerings.”
The Cambridge program for students ages 11-19 is made up of three stages: Cambridge Lower Secondary, Cambridge Upper Secondary and Cambridge Advanced. Each stage combines a rigorous curriculum, support for teachers and integrated assessments. To offer the Cambridge program, schools must be approved by Cambridge Assessment International Education, part of the University of Cambridge.
This school year, Denison Middle School received approval to offer the Cambridge Lower Secondary Program.
There are more than 10,000 Cambridge schools in more than 160 countries worldwide. In Polk County, the only Cambridge schools are Denison Middle School and Winter Haven High School, which offers the Cambridge Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE).
Winter Haven High School students who complete the requirements of AICE earn a specific type of diploma called an Advanced International Certificate of Education Diploma, which is recognized by the state as a more rigorous diploma than a regular high school diploma.
Fifty-seven eighth-graders are participating in Cambridge at Denison this school year. Their core academic classes ― English, math, science and Global Perspectives ― all follow the Cambridge curriculum.
“The Cambridge curriculum is helping these students develop learning strategies, life skills and knowledge that will carry over from middle school to high school, college and work,” said Denison Middle School Principal Terri Christian.
Teachers are also enjoying the opportunity to participate in Cambridge, said Anne-Christine Holby, one of the Cambridge teachers at Denison.
“Just as the students are part of a larger community, the teachers have the opportunity to participate with colleagues all over the world. The program also provides a wealth of professional development opportunities that are unique to the Cambridge program,” Holby said.
The program will be expanded for the 2019-20 school year to include sixth-grade.
Students zoned to attend Denison as a sixth-grader next year, who are interested in participating in Cambridge, will need to complete an application. Applications will be available electronically via the school’s website, beginning Nov. 1. Paper applications will also be available at Denison Middle School. Students will be accepted to the Denison Cambridge program based on the strength of their academic record and an essay.
For more information on Polk County Public Schools’ school options, visit polkschoolsfl.com.