The Institute of International Education (IIE) and American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS) Foundation has awarded $50,000 in professional development grants to 50 teachers and school administrators from 27 states and the District of Columbia who have successfully integrated global perspectives and exchanges into their classrooms.
The announcement comes on the heels of a new milestone in the Generation Study Abroad initiative: 1,000 K-12 teachers and administrators have pledged to advocate for study abroad by exposing students to international experiences and global perspectives in preparing for their college careers. The teachers and administrators will use the IIE AIFS Foundation Generation Study Abroad Enrichment Grants to advance collaborations with university study abroad offices, share best practices for globalizing the classroom with colleagues, expand or create new exchange programs with K-12 schools abroad, and advance their own professional development.
For a full list of the winners, please see our official press release.
We are pleased to present some of our awardees’ stories below:
Reedsburg Area High School
Innovative activity: Implemented a variety of interventions to close the achievement gap and to insure that all students feel worthy to travel abroad. Among them are ensuring that all students have equal access to high-quality lessons and daily technology use, taking cultural field trips, traveling abroad during the summer break, and using WeSpeke to foster new friendships with native speakers from all over the Hispanic world.
Impact: As part of her classroom’s cultural outreach efforts, Breckley's students engage elementary school students through language lessons. Further, students are taught the importance of philanthropy through volunteer abroad trips.
Grade(s) taught: 9-12
“Every minute a student spends in my class must give purpose to language learning, value to different cultures, and hope for the future. Therefore, we travel as much as possible, and create travel simulations in class in the meantime. These practices lead to a love for exploration and build a bridge to future study abroad experiences.”
University Laboratory School
Baton Rouge, LA
Innovative activity: Conducted a virtual exchange between her class of high school students and high school students in Japan at Odori High School. Both schools collaborated on "The Peace Project" to relate to each other and create understanding between both groups. The program culminated in 23 students visiting Japan. Bevill also finds high schools worldwide to collaborate with and organizes a class trip to the international school. Through this effort, she has taken students to South Africa, Peru, and Greece, and is currently creating virtual exchanges with schools in New Zealand, Belize, and Australia.
Impact: The Peace Project, along with her other student excursions, has positively impacted her entire school, further fostering an environment of cultural curiosity through study abroad.
Grade(s) taught: 10-12
“My impact of discussing my travels, sharing images and videos, students’ experiences, and leading trips for students is evident through the percentage who have decided to study abroad in college. Of the students I have brought abroad that are in college about 70% have studied abroad and more intend to when they reach their sophomore and junior year in college.”
Rutland High School
Innovative activity: Serves as his school’s coordinator for the Experiment in International Living, which involves arranging information sessions, assisting students with their applications, and serving as an advisor for participating students.
Impact: Nearly 300 students annually attend Eisenman’s study abroad presentations, and the program sends between three and six students abroad each year.
Grade(s) taught: 9-12
“Even if a student does not participate in the program, they have learned about the process of studying abroad. Through my strong advocacy for study abroad, I have gained a school-wide reputation for being a leader in international studies.”
JP Sousa Middle School
Innovative activity: Started an African awareness club at her school called Club Afrique.
Impact: Club Afrique members have participated in trips to Senegal, Gabon, Egypt, and Gambia, as well as Mediterranean European countries and Central America.
Grade(s) taught: 6-8
“I believe that traveling at a young age is a rite of passage into adulthood. I am convinced that a global field experience is invaluable for inner city youths. The majority of the children who I travel with are poor and underserved. I strongly believe that it is extremely important that poor students be afforded the same opportunity to travel outside of their worlds and communities to better enhance their horizons as their more affluent peers.”
Fulton High School
Innovative activity: Manages an exchange between his school and a school in northeast Germany.
Impact: The exchange program has had a ripple effect on dozens of past participants who continue to forge international relations, including with their former host families, and seek out new endeavors to create new interpersonal networks in both the Midwest and in Germany. Further, since the school in Germany is in a city that has recently received Syrian refugees, a greater discussion about immigration, the refugee crisis, and xenophobia has been started in the classroom and has led to better cultural understanding of Middle Eastern countries and cultures.
Grade(s) taught: 10, 12
“This grant will be very important in helping me to foster this program and also the bigger idea of studying abroad for students beyond their high school years. I am a believer in, and I am committed to, the idea of having Fulton students participate in study abroad.”
Westborough Public Schools
Innovative activity: Organizes trips to China with her students and also develops curricula that creates avenues to more fully integrate Muslim ESL students into her school community and that give the general student population insight into new culture and history.
Impact: Her study abroad alumni have built lasting relationships with Chinese students that have enabled them to develop understanding of and friendships with international citizens. As part of this experience, these students help edit Hitzenbuhler’s Global Issues course to include topical issues facing China today that they learned about during the their trip. Students also serve as guest speakers in history classrooms and promote intercultural activities on campus.
Grade(s) taught: K-12
“I will use the award to travel with GEEO (Global Explorations for Educators) to Turkey to better understand culture of Turkey's predominant Muslim population.”
Paul Public Charter School
Innovative activity: Accompanied students Zambia where they planted nearly 200 trees with an organization called Green Pop, taught lessons at a small school called Daughter’s Vision, and performed with a performance group called Africa Directions to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS.
Impact: Students shared their experiences with faculty, staff, and students and are now advocates for other students to study abroad to gain a broader learning experience. One of those students is now slated to study abroad in Venezuela and has recruited several other students to follow suit.
Grade(s) taught: 9
“Recruitment for the Zambia trip was challenging because many of our students have never traveled further than the states that border our city let alone internationally. I first brought in my own travel experiences through videos, photos and blogs. Then I reached out to PeaceCorps representative and friends who had lived in Africa to talk to my students one on one. Finally, I found students willing to take the risk. I took special care to prepare them by discussing culture shock and the issues we would be helping grassroots organizations tackle.”
Hawthorne Scholastic Academy
Innovative activity: Created a global curriculum program, L.I.T.E. (Learning through International Travel Experiences) that emphasizes a global curriculum dedicated to making his students global citizens. The unique L.I.T.E student trips, which will take place over Spring Break, are designed to deliver a lifetime of global awareness and readiness for success.
Impact: The anticipated impact of the L.I.T.E. program is that students will learn beyond the classroom, explore culturally-rich international cities, and connect with new friends and contacts.
Grade(s) taught:[Principal – K-8]
“Students that have a diverse understanding of cultures will have a stronger sense of who they are, while becoming more flexible regarding their assumptions. Students who experience L.I.T.E. and become global citizens will return to their culture and be more motivated to contribute to their own education and learn to show respect for social norms that are different from their own. “
[Fellow awardee and Hawthorne faculty member Ryan Streit (left) with Principal Nate Pietrini]
South Central High School
Innovative activity: Created cross-cultural lesson plans, partners with two teachers in Poland to lead discussions about the effects of globalization among their students, and designed (along with three other teachers) an interactive world map in the school’s hallway that includes all the places they have traveled in an effort to get students interested in places beyond their own communities.
Impact: A group of 20 students in Piner's Title 1 school will be traveling to Italy and Greece for Spring Break 2016; for most of them this will be their first flight and their first time out of the state of North Carolina.
Grade(s) taught: 9-12
“Since I teach in a Title I school in an impoverished part of Eastern North Carolina, it is very difficult for many of my students to grasp the vast richness of the world; even areas that are simply out of our county, as many have never ventured beyond those county lines. I bring in as many different student perspectives as possible, use my colleagues as resources, and my own travel experiences to pique their interests in my curriculum, as well as their own goals and dreams.”
Alston Middle School
Innovative activity: Created and hosts an international coffee hour as well as an “International Teen Corner” which engages international citizens at nearby colleges, local businesses, and students’ parents to share and discuss international cultures.
Impact: Students and their parents have become interested in discussing future study abroad opportunities, attendance at the sessions has increased exponentially, and host families for a future exchange program have been secured.
Grade(s) taught: 7
“That this well-attended event happens on a Saturday and it is totally a volunteer basis, with no incentive to come, shows me that our students care about being globally minded and connected. The next step for me as a classroom teacher is to teach students about passports, visas, and living in another culture. I had done all of this before, but now with this international coffee hour exposure, students understand my urgency for them to travel/study abroad more concretely.”