Charles Brown Elementary School is a K through 5 Birmingham City School serving 367 students where 100% of the students receive free lunch. In 2014, they embarked on a lofty goal of becoming the only regular admission International Baccalaureate School in the state. Through the leadership and vision of Principal Steve Brown and IB coordinator Dr. MaQuita Warren Lewis, along with committed teachers and parents they raised all of the necessary funds to seek and earn IB status.
One of the requirements of the IB program is to offer two foreign languages. The school was already offering Spanish, but had the dream of offering Mandarin Chinese as the second language. Principal Brown felt that for their students to be best equipped to succeed in today’s world, knowing Mandarin Chinese was necessary. Through the Foundation’s connections with Troy University, we were able to introduce them to the Confucius Institute at Troy that is affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education and is charged with bringing to the people of Alabama knowledge of China that will serve the state in the areas of business, education, culture, and public interest throughout the state of Alabama. Through this partnership, the Confucius Institute was able to help by supplying a Mandarin Chinese teacher to the school.
In just three years’ time, and three grants from the Daniel Foundation totaling $42,500, the school achieved their dream of becoming the only IB school in Alabama to not require an entrance test. Principal Brown’s belief that every child deserves this level and quality of educational experience became a reality. This outcome has now resulted in other Birmingham City Schools in the feeder pattern to begin the process of exploring becoming an International Baccalaureate School.