Linden High School teacher Anthony Fischetti has taken over as coordinator of the International Baccalaureate program, the school’s most academically challenging course of study.
Fischetti, who also continues to teach Italian and Intro to Education, takes over for the retiring Bernadette Bottino, who has headed the IB program since its inception at LHS in 2001.
“I’m very excited,” Fischetti said. “It was great to be able to shadow Bernadette for the last year and a half, so even when I went to training, I felt like I had an edge over some of the other individuals because I had seen what goes on very closely.”
International Baccalaureate is a premier global education program that sets high standards emphasizing creative and critical thinking to prepare high school students for the rigor of colleges and universities.
IB students at LHS enter the program in their junior year and complete their senior year with an IB assessment in each subject area. Students can choose to take classes from a variety of subjects that offer college credits upon successful completion.
Students can also pursue an IB diploma, which requires them to successfully complete a full course load of IB subjects and can provide students up to a semester’s worth of credits as they enter college.
“The IB program is really about growth over time,” said Fischetti, a graduate of Seton Hall University who joined Linden Public Schools in 2006. “The diploma really is a wonderful achievement, but not attaining the diploma doesn’t mean you failed. The program is about showing every student, whether they have one IB class or a full diploma, there is a benefit to doing it, and that you can grow as a learner and strengthen the skills that you already possess.”
LHS Principal Yelena Horré said she has total confidence in Fischetti, who she said is an outstanding teacher who always puts the needs of students first.
“He is unassuming and humble, but tenacious in his passion to create a rich and engaging learning environment for all students,” she said. “As a teacher of Italian, he has grown the program by building relationships with partner schools in Italy, organizing and leading the Italian exchange year after year, and most of all, by creating a sense of unity and family with his Italian students.
“As our new IB coordinator, I am confident that Mr. Fischetti will utilize these same skills to continue the groundbreaking work started by Ms. Bottino that opened an elite academic program to all students willing to work hard and achieve.”
Many students who have completed IB courses say they feel they were better prepared for college than many of their peers.
“We have students that come back every year,” Fischetti said, “either for our College Day celebration or the IB information night, and they are happy to report things like, ‘Oh, we read this novel, the same one we did senior year.’ Just having the exposure to a global curriculum, it helps them wherever they decide to go.”
LHS is one of fewer than 20 schools in New Jersey to offer the internationally renowned program. About 140 seniors take at least one IB course – that’s about one-third of the senior class.
“It really is a mark of distinction for our district,” Fischetti said. “I want to continue the strength and prominence of the IB program.”
Despite the prestige of IB at Linden High, it may be somewhat of a hidden gem to those outside of the school.
“One of the goals that I have is to get into the middle schools this year and really present that information clearly,” Fischetti said. “I think it’s great that we’re able to talk to them here at the high school, but I also think that it’s important to make that known at the middle school level to students who may want to put themselves on the path to the diploma program.”
IB courses are offered in six groups: literature, history, math, sciences, languages, and art, with each offering a range of options. Diploma candidates must also complete an extended essay, a theory of knowledge course that explores philosophy, and a community service project.
Further setting Linden apart from other IB schools is that students have this opportunity free of charge.
“The fact that we are able to provide the IB without any cost to the student is fantastic,” Fischetti said. “Some districts charge, and despite charging they still have high numbers of students enrolled because of the opportunity it provides. So the fact that everything is covered by our district really sets us apart from a lot of other schools.”