Harbor School aims to join a prestigious global network

In International Baccalaureate schools, students gain “cultural awareness and progress in a second language, preparing them to engage with people all over the world.”

Vashon’s Harbor School has been approved as a candidate for the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Program (PYP) and is now undertaking the process to become authorized to present IB’s prestigious program in its grades K-5 next year.

The school will host an information session on the IB program — and what it will look like at Harbor School — at 5 p.m. Monday, Jan. 23, at the school, located at 15920 Vashon Hwy SW.

The session is open to current Harbor School families, as well as the broader community.

Harbor School, established as an independent school on the island in 1995, currently serves about 85-90 students annually on Vashon and has both primary and middle school (grades 6-8) programs.

According to the Head of School, Teri Rutledge, Harbor School will also seek authorization to implement IB’s Middle Years Program (MYP) in its grades 6-8 in 2024.

IB is a non-profit education program that offers a continuum of four academic programs for 3-19 year-olds. The program provides a framework, rather than a curriculum, that each school delivers in the context of their own location and culture, said Rutledge.

Rutledge said that she was excited to offer the IB at Harbor School, describing the hallmarks of the program as “inclusivity, valuing diversity, multilingualism and international mindedness.”

She said that through IB, the school will be able to more fully achieve this mission to “inspire scholars to contribute their wisdom, compassion and personal best in the classroom, the community and the world,” while at the same time, become connected to a global network of schools that share these values.

In IB schools, Rutledge said, students gain “cultural awareness and progress in a second language, preparing them to engage with people all over the world.”

IB’s “whole child approach,” Rutledge added, focuses on personal growth and academic achievement.

“Students are challenged to think critically and ask questions across disciplines while fostering curiosity and a love for learning,” she said. “IB learners are effective communicators, empathetic, open-minded, act with integrity and embrace a sense of fairness.”

In establishing itself as an IB school, Harbor School will join more than 5000 schools in 150 different countries, and a smaller cohort of IB schools in Vashon’s geographic area.

Tacoma has multiple IB schools, including Annie Wright, and other elementary, middle and high schools. In the greater Seattle area, Rutledge said, there are also multiple high schools, including Chief Sealth in West Seattle, that offer the IB Diploma program, but there are no elementary schools.

Separate from its announcement of the IB program, Harbor School has also recently announced an increase in tuition for the 2023-24 school year. For kindergarten students, tuition is now $16,000; for grades 1-5, it is $18,500; and for grades 6-8, it is $20,000.

Rutledge described the rise in tuition at the school as a “course correction” given its business model as a small nonprofit, but added that the school has a robust financial aid program to make the school accessible to families with different financial backgrounds.

“We really value inclusivity,” she said. “We don’t want finances to be a barrier, and we don’t have a cap on financial aid. It is case by case … if parents feel their student is going to thrive at our school, we work very hard with that family.”

For further information, visit ibo.org, harborschool.org, or contact teri@harborschool.org.