ROCKFORD, lll. (WTVO) — Rockford Public Schools is launching a new initiative that more families in the district can take advantage of.

Conklin Elementary School will be turned into an “Internation Baccalaureate Candidate School” next year. One district leader said that Dr. Jarrett announced the program years ago, but COVID prolonged the launch.

RPS 205 will reportedly start with Conklin, and plans to grow and expand.

“We’re excited to be the first to get to do it, and then to be able to work with other schools within the district as we continue to grow the program,” said Sarah Brenner, international baccalaureate principal at Conklin.

Students that attend Conklin, McIntosh, Welsh and Westview will be eligible to apply.

“The fact that Conklin has a TBE, or transitional bilingual program, makes this the reason why it’s the best site for this program, but also its exciting for the northwest quadrant overall,” said Heather Psaltis, executive director of schools and special programs. “So, that we have high achieving schools for all of our families to choose.”

The goal is to roll up into middle and high school and then eventually replicate the program at one or two other elementary sites. Psaltis said that this IB school is just another addition to the district’s educational offerings.

This one is unique, however, because it will equip seniors to apply to schools across the globe.

“This was created globally by heads of universities from all over the globe about 50 or 60 years ago in Europe, and they designed a profile of a high school graduate who would be accepted into any international university,” Psaltis said.

The school has a transdisciplinary approach, according to Brenner. Learners will be taught through six themes over the course of the year. They will also have the opportunity to learn a second language, which Brenner said is a skill that will help them no matter where life takes them.

“The goal is really to empower our students to know themselves as learners. It really is a global mindset, so being able to take our local context in Rockford, but also being able to understand there’s things outside of our community where we live,” Brenner said. “It’s both the academic aspect that’s a benefit, but also the caring, kindness, social/emotional piece that’s also a benefit for our students.”

Residents can learn how to apply at RPS 205’s website. Families who do not live within the boundaries should keep a lookout for an expansion in the next few years.