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Bradley County Schools' Project Director Patti Hunt and Director of Schools Johnny McDaniel. Photo by Paul Leach.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Internationally recognized academic programs for high school students were spotlighted this week in a presentation by Bradley County education officials to the Cleveland/Bradley Economic Development Council.

The International Baccalaureate and Cambridge International programs will form key parts of the county schools' mission to ensure its students are fully prepared for college or work upon graduation, said Patti Hunt, project director for Smaller Learning Communities grants.

"When we talk about community and education, these are the things that we perceived that the community needs," said Hunt in regard to making students college- and work-ready.

The Bradley County school system now is engaged in a three-year application process for the International Baccalaureate curriculum, which will be implemented at Walker Valley High School, Schools Director Johnny McDaniel said.

Hunt said the Cambridge International Programme will roll out next spring at Bradley Central High School.

Both programs were funded as part of $3 million in federal grant money, according to McDaniel.

The programs also meet the expected needs of students of European families who relocate to Bradley County as part of Wacker, McDaniel said.

The two programs complement the system's strategy of a rigor-based approach, which includes initiatives such as advanced placement courses and dual enrollment in colleges and universities, according to McDaniel.

Hunt said that "rigor" doesn't mean more schoolwork or homework for students, nor does it simply mean passing down the secondary-level curriculum to students in lower grades.

McDaniel said it really involves trying to tie what the system does in classrooms to ambitious national standards. It also means schools can apply high-level academics to career and technical courses as a way of preparing students for the workforce, not solely as a means of readying them for college, he said.

He said the International Baccalaureate program offers a world-class curriculum whose strengths appeal to students committed to higher levels of achievement. The Cambridge International Programme is designed to complement career and technical applications as well as university readiness, he said.

Several business and community leaders praised the school system's new initiatives.

Ross Tarver, chairman of the industrial development board, said the community needs to do more to challenge its highest-achieving children.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at