IIE Awards $50,000 to Teachers to Globalize Classrooms

Note to Editors: Please contact the IIE Public Affairs team if you’d like to interview the teachers, principals and/ or school and district representatives about their efforts to globalize K-12 classrooms.

NEW YORK, March 1, 2016—The Institute of International Education (IIE) and American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS) Foundation 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: more than 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. Studying abroad can boost a student’s post-college career opportunities, and foster mutual understanding and national security in a globalized world. Yet only one in 10 American college students study abroad before they graduate and only seven percent of college students are enrolled in a language course. Teachers are uniquely positioned to inspire curiosity about the world by teaching all subjects through a global lens, as well as advocating for global enrichment activities, language learning, and exchange programs. IIE and the AIFS Foundation partnered to recognize those teachers who have made outstanding efforts to bring the world into the classroom and community, and to provide them with resources and inspire them to continue their work.

“Today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders, and leaders in every field will need to engage in meaningful international experiences to prepare for the demands of our globalized world,” said Allan E. Goodman, IIE’s President and CEO. “The Institute of International Education proudly supports teachers who are building a pipeline of students who are prepared to take advantage of international opportunities in the future.”

“We are pleased to partner with IIE to enable teachers and students to learn more about our world through an international experience,” said William L. Gertz, President and CEO of AIFS. “Our success as a society depends upon deepening our knowledge of other cultures and languages. This can only be achieved by learning at the source.”

Recipients of the IIE AIFS Foundation Generation Study Abroad Enrichment Grants are part of a network of 1,000 teachers and administrators who have taken the Generation Study Abroad pledge to build a pipeline of students who will enter college with plans to embark upon an international experience such as studying, interning or volunteering abroad. IIE provides these teachers with global teaching resources, industry news and networking opportunities designed to build the global educator community. IIE launched the Generation Study Abroad teacher campaign a year ago asking 1,000 teachers to join the five-year initiative that convenes leaders in education, business and governments to increase the number and diversity of U.S. college students who study abroad.

“I have surveyed my students before the [international] exchanges by asking them a simple question, ‘How many of you would be interested in traveling to another country for six months or a year during high school or college?’ Rarely do I get more than one or two hands in the air. Following the [international] exchanges, two thirds of the class will raise their hands, eager to have more experiences,” said Noah Zeichner, a grant recipient and Chief Sealth International High School teacher in Seattle, Washington.

The teachers selected for IIE AIFS Foundation Generation Study Abroad Enrichment Grants have implemented a range of innovative activities, including advising sessions to help students and parents plan for the realities of studying abroad; facilitating virtual exchanges in the classroom; sharing their own study abroad experiences with students; and discussing with colleagues, students, and others in the community about the powerful impact of study abroad. Highlights of teachers’ work include:

Offering college credit and reducing costs to incentivize K-12 study abroad. More than 50 students at DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis have studied in Argentina nearly free of charge, thanks to social studies teacher Brad Casey’s work to establish a student exchange with the Colegio Santo Domingo en la Sierra in Tandil. Casey also collaborated with university study abroad offices to design interdisciplinary high school courses in Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Kenya and the Czech Republic for college credit. As a result, nearly 500 students and 30 faculty and staff participated in the university-high school hybrid of international courses.

Leveraging social media and technology to connect local students with international teachers and peers. In addition to spearheading a biennial Spanish immersion program for her students in Reedsburg, Wisconsin, high school Spanish teacher Sarah Breckley uses Skype and WeSpeke.com to connect students with their peers in Spanish-speaking countries, to practice language skills and build cross-cultural exchanges, and conducts virtual tours of cities through Google Earth. Stephen Henson brought virtual meetups with an Egypt-based teacher to his school in rural Livingston, Tennessee to dispel stereotypes and educate his students about the histories, political systems and cultures of the Middle East. Henson reports that the virtual meetups have inspired his students to start thinking about and planning to study abroad.

Promoting global citizenship through comparative literature and current international issues. Teacher Victoria Longoria of Del Valle, Texas says, “I strive to move students to global compassion and curiosity while also nurturing a sense of international citizenry.” To do this, she incorporates comparative literature and history into her curriculum to expose students to global disparities such as educational access and poverty and inspire them to recognize their unique abilities help eradicate them. In order to gain cross-cultural awareness and relate to her students, Rhonda Marquardt from Everett, Washington, went on professional sabbatical for a year to teach and volunteer in seven countries in Africa. She’s since returned to the U.S. and uses her travel photos and videos and new understanding of the world to engage her students in ongoing discussions about life outside of the U.S. and connect them with the students she taught in Ghana (pen pals).

The winners’ outstanding teaching methods distinguished them in a competitive national application process, collectively representing an average of 17 years in the teaching profession. Only about 1 in three applicants for the IIE AIFS Foundation Generation Study Abroad Enrichment Grants were selected, the majority of whom work at high schools, while 10 work at either elementary, middle, middle-high, or K-12 schools. Six of the 48 winning teachers concomitantly serve as school administrators, and two winners are principals. For more statistics on the winners, please see the addendum at the end of the release.

Congratulations to the winners of the IIE AIFS Foundation Generation Study Abroad Enrichment Grants:

* American Council for International Studies (ACIS) Group Leaders



City/ State

Carmen Adair

The Bolles School

Jacksonville, FL

William Adkins

Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy

Dallas, TX

Mary Jo Behrensmeyer

Mount Vernon High School

Mount Vernon, OH

Jennifer Bevill

University Laboratory School

Baton Rouge, LA

Amy Bonnici

The Wheeler School

Providence, RI

Micah Braswell

Olympic High School: ELED

Charlotte, NC

Sarah Breckley

Reedsburg Area High School

Reedsburg, WI

Jacqueline Brown-Williams

Williams Polk County High School

Columbus, NC

Brad Casey

DeLaSalle High School

Minneapolis, MN

Amy Conrad*

Zionsville Community High School

Zionsville, IN

Merinda Davis

Lakeridge Junior High School

Orem, UT

Anna Marie Deem

Greenwich High School

Greenwich, CT

Wendy Dray

Legacy High School

Broomfield, CO

Ronald Eisenman

Rutland High School

Rutland, VT

Victoria Gadecki

Lexington Middle School

Lexington, SC

Elisabeth Gambino

Bard High School Early College Baltimore

Baltimore, MD

Koura Gibson

John Philip Sousa Middle School

Washington, DC

Jim Goodspeed

Fulton High School

Middleton, MI

Matthew Haley

Moscow Middle School

Moscow, ID

Jenna Harris*

John H Reagan High School

Houston, TX

Stephen Henson

Livingston Academy

Livingston, TN

Maeve Hitzenbuhler

Westborough Public Schools

Westborough, MA

Kathleen Keffeler

Douglas High School

Box Elder, SD

Andrew Kelderman

Wichita High School North

Wichita, KS

Jennifer Knop*

Plainfield North High School

Plainfield, IL

Christine Ko

Hunters Lane High School

Nashville, TN

Karen Krzystof

Maddock Elementary School

Burbank, IL

Christopher Lazarski

Wauwatosa West High School

Wauwatosa, WI

Nina Lesch*

Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School

Chicago, IL

Victoria Longoria

Del Valle High School

Del Valle, TX

Melanie Manuel

Science Leadership Academy

Philadelphia, PA

Rhonda Marquardt

Mariner High School

Everett, WA

Inna McNally*

Loyola Academy College Prep High School

Wilmette, IL

Victoria Merriweather

Paul Public Charter School

Washington, DC

Nicole Naditz*

Bella Vista High School

Fair Oaks, CA

Eric Northard

Grand Rapids High School

Grand Rapids, MN

Nate Pietrini

Hawthorne Scholastic Academy

Chicago, IL

Lauren Piner

South Central High School

Winterville, NC

Michael Polashenski

Mountain Lakes High School

Mountain Lakes, NJ

Kara Roth

Hingham High School

Hingham, MA

Thomas Sapp*

Loyola Academy

Wilmette, IL

Sylvia Simard-Newman

Cannon School

Concord, NC

Ryan Smith

Cardinal Newman High School

Santa Rosa, CA

Caryn Stedman

Connecticut International Baccalaureate Academy

East Hartford, CT

Lauren Stone

Rickard Elementary School

Williston, ND

Ryan Streit

Hawthorne Scholastic Academy

Chicago, IL

Cassandra Tesch

Leadership Public Schools Oakland

Oakland, CA

Lili Wong

Clovis West High School/Buchanan High School

Fresno/ Clovis, CA

Pren Woods

Alston Middle School

Summerville, SC

Noah Zeichner

Chief Sealth International High School

Seattle, WA

How to Get Involved:

Join Generation Study Abroad

Contribute to the Generation Study Abroad Fund

Be an Advocate

Twitter: @iieglobal, #generationstudyabroad

Facebook: IIEGlobal

ADDENDUM: Profile of Grantees (50 Awardees Total)

Most Popular Actions:

  • Share and discuss the realities of studying abroad: planning, traveling, staying safe, dealing with culture shock, facing the “fear of the unknown” to help students and parents prepare (43 total)
  • Lead local-global study abroad opportunities with other teachers and students. E.g., a field trip to Model UN or a virtual exchange (41 total)
  • Advocate for the personal and professional benefits of studying abroad by sharing stories, videos or photos of their own study abroad experiences with other teachers and students (37 total)

Average Years of Teaching: 17.04

American Council for International Studies (ACIS) Group Leaders: 7

State Totals: 27 states and the District of Columbia

Top States:

  • Illinois – 7
  • California – 4
  • North Carolina – 4
  • Texas – 3

Gender Totals:

  • Male – 17
  • Female – 33


  • Asian – 3
  • Black – 4
  • Hispanic – 2
  • Multiracial – 2
  • Native American – 1
  • White – 38

Top Subjects Taught:

  • English – 8
  • Spanish – 6
  • French – 5
  • Social Studies – 5
  • World History – 5

Type of School:

  • High School – 40
  • Elementary School – 4
  • Middle School – 4
  • Middle-High School – 1
  • K-12 School – 1


  • Teachers – 48 (6 of whom are also Administrators)
  • Principals – 2

About Generation Study Abroad

Generation Study Abroad™ is a five-year initiative of the Institute of International Education (IIE) to mobilize resources and commitments with the goal of doubling the number of U.S. students studying abroad by the end of the decade. Higher education institutions, study abroad organizations and other partners that have joined the initiative have committed $185 million over the next five years to provide support to students, faculty and programming to expand study abroad opportunities to all over the next five years. More than 630 partners have joined the GSA initiative to date, including 400 U.S. colleges and universities from 48 states as well as higher education institutions and organizations in other countries, education associations, organizations including study abroad, K-12, and social network agencies and 14 country partners. The initiative highlights IIE’s commitment to study abroad and to encouraging purposeful, innovative action to get more Americans to undertake a meaningful international experience through academic study abroad programs, as well as internships, service learning, and non-credit educational experiences.

About the Institute of International Education

The Institute of International Education is a world leader in the international exchange of people and ideas. IIE designs and implements programs of study and training for students, educators, young professionals and trainees from all sectors with funding from government agencies, foundations, and corporations. An independent, not-for-profit organization founded in 1919, IIE has a network of 19 offices and affiliates worldwide and over 1,400 member institutions.

About AIFS Foundation

The AIFS Foundation, a Generation Study Abroad commitment partner, was established in 1967 with the assistance of the late Senator Robert Kennedy to help young people from many nations and diverse cultures to understand each other better. The AIFS Foundation provides grants and scholarships to students for participation in study abroad programs and provides grants to high schools and institutions to encourage international and educational travel. The AIFS Foundation also sponsors the Academic Year in America program, which enables more than 700 international teenage students to spend a semester or academic year with an American host family while attending the local high school.


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