Patterson Elementary chosen as International Baccalaureate® candidate school
Patterson Elementary, known as a “gem of Gilbert,” sits just north of Freestone Park near Guadalupe and Lindsay Roads. The school has welcomed students to its campus since the late 1970s. While Patterson is steeped in Gilbert’s history, administrators and educators at the school are focused on educating the future leaders and global changemakers of tomorrow.
“We understand this is an infinite game. We’ve adopted this continuing and never-ending improvement approach,” said Principal Lucas Blackburn.
Patterson has been selected as a candidate school for the prestigious International Baccalaureate® Primary Years Programme, building upon the incredible work already happening on the school's campus. The programme takes a student-centered approach to education, with the goal of developing students into caring, inquisitive and globally minded learners. Teachers and staff at Patterson will begin to implement IB strategies into the classroom starting in the 2022/23 school year.
"It's more important now than ever before that we engage the students, and we make sure they have a connection to the world that we live in," he said.
Blackburn has been at Patterson for nearly a decade. He’s worked with Gilbert Public Schools for nearly twice that amount of time. As the fourth principal to lead Patterson, Blackburn embraces and champions a culture of inclusivity, innovation, and collaboration.
“When families come here, they know that they are going to feel welcomed. They are going to feel engaged. We’re really going to do everything we can for the child, and we’ll try to do it in a fun way,” he said.
Patterson Elementary is recognized as a school that promotes inquiry and problem solving as part of learning, meaning students learn to critically think, collaborate effectively, and exceed expectations. As a result, Patterson students are equipped with the knowledge and confidence to turn their failures into successes. The teachers on campus work together to ensure students are constantly moving forward in their learning, no matter the needs of the child.
“We have an inquiry specialist who will look at the old lessons and help turn them into something new,” Blackburn said, “So really coming together with the old and the new to create this education that’s going to be tailored to whatever learner comes through these doors.”
Patterson is the only elementary school in the Gilbert Public Schools district to have a full-time inquiry specialist on campus who works in what is called a Makerspace. Students, starting in Kindergarten, regularly visit the Makerspace as part of their curriculum. Sarah McGee teaches students to use critical thinking, engineering and design to solve real world problems.
“It’s a lot of curiosity, fun and learning. They want to try new things,” McGee said.
McGee incorporates science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) into hands-on activities for every grade level, to motivate students to think, discuss, and apply their solutions. In Makerspace, students have worked with Ozobots, done 3D printing, explored Virtual Reality, built circuits, and designed reusable products, to name a few. McGee encourages students to work with their classmates on projects, promoting teamwork and providing a safe space to share diverse ideas.
“I truly love what I am doing and what I have been able to accomplish at Patterson. If I can inspire just one student and ignite that passion for STEM, my work here is complete,” she said.
Half of the students who attend Patterson Elementary live outside the school’s boundaries. For years, families have sought out the school as the ideal place to begin their child’s educational journey. Patterson families feel deeply connected to the school’s community, resulting in a high-level of parent and family engagement in on-campus activities and groups. Blackburn hopes to do even more with families in the future.
“We’d like to have more educational nights, where parents can come in and do things like 3D printing and engineering design,” he said.
Teachers at Patterson are truly invested in the school and the students. Several teachers have worked on the campus for 30 or more years, demonstrating their devotion and confidence in the school’s bright future.
“We definitely have a culture of trust and appreciation,” Blackburn said.
Patterson Elementary serves more than 500 students on its campus. It’s been recognized three times as an A+ School of Excellence™ winner by the Arizona Educational Foundation™. Kindergarten through 6th grade students have access to a number of campus clubs, activities, and after-school classes. Patterson is also home to the Advantage Preschool program, which focuses on critical thinking skills and socio-emotional development.