The new leader of the International Baccalaureate program at Schenectady High School says she is hoping to build upon the program’s already strong foundation.
Patricia Embree was recently named the new teacher-leader of IB, which offers a rigorous advanced curriculum for participating students. Embree said she was excited about the new challenge.
“I’ve been in the program since its inception. I was one of the teachers first involved in that accreditation. It’s exciting for myself now to move on to the next level,” she said. “I want it to continue to grow and have it become an even larger program.”
Embree said that strong foundation sometimes has gotten lost in the controversy about the program. Parents had expressed concern about issues ranging from scheduling conflicts to the recent change in administrators. Superintendent Eric Ely reassigned coordinator Rosaline Horowitz and the other coordinator, Greg Wolos, resigned from the program in protest.
Ely previously praised the selection of Embree by the high school administration because she is well versed in the program.
Embree said she wants to reach out into the middle schools and elementary schools so both parents and students are more aware about the IB and pre-IB programs.
Embree has spent 17 years at the high school, where she said she has taught every history class offered. She has been teaching the IB course called “20th Century Topics” for the last five years. She said the first year she taught the course, it had 17 students. Next year, it is scheduled to have 63 students.
“That’s a nice exponential growth in a short period of time,” she said.
Embree said she will be busy over the summer with administrative tasks, making sure the teachers have the proper resources and materials.
Embree has a bachelor’s degree from SUNY-Brockport and a master’s degree in history from UAlbany. She achieved National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification last fall. From 2000 to 2002, she served as teacher-leader for the social studies department and from 2002 to 2005, she helped shepherd the grant that broke up the high school into separate academic houses.
Parent Elena Alvarez, who has been critical of the IB program, said she is happy that Embree is the new leader. She said she is an excellent teacher. “I know she’s always been very good, very thorough, very caring,” she said.
However, she said her concern is making sure IB has the proper support from the administration, including training for guidance counselors and teachers about the program.
Alvarez said she worried that the program, which she says is a “star” in the city, had been neglected. Also, the high school administration has changed during the last few years, which she said has disrupted the continuity of the program.
She likened successful running of the IB program to an orchestra performance. “You need many things to go well so the thing works,” she said.
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