SAIS Partners with GEBG on Endorsement
By Sarah Stewart
Independent schools have a new resource to assess and improve their global education programs. The Global Education Benchmark Group is now offering endorsements and has awarded its first to Providence Day School (PDS) in Charlotte, NC. The assessment for the GEBG Endorsement was conducted in conjunction with the school’s SAIS reaccreditation visit this past fall.
The accreditation team of five was chaired by Jack Hall, Head of the Walker School in Marietta, GA. Among those members was a global education expert, Tricia Anderson, Director of the Isdell Center for Global Leadership at Pace Academy in Atlanta, GA.
Along with SAIS accreditation standards, the school’s global program was assessed on nine standards from the GEBG. They include vision and purpose; governance and leadership; teaching and learning in curricular and co curricular activities; assessment and documentation, both quantitativeand qualitative; resources and support systems; stakeholder communication and relationships; commitment to continuous improvement; accessibility and affordability; and risk management.
Willy Fluharty is GEBG’s Director Emeritus, as well as the Director of the Nexus Center for Global Studies at Cape Henry Collegiate in Virginia Beach VA. He said the group did a great job with the assessment, offering valuable comments and input about PDS’s global education program. Fluharty also said that while Anderson’s input as a global education expert was critical, so were the comments from other team members. “The team effort is important. Schools don’t always collaborate that much but in the SAIS accreditation process, they really do, and it’s an incredible growth opportunity,” he said.
SAIS is excited to partner with GEBG to bring this new resource to member schools. “Global education programs nationwide have moved from being optional to necessary for schools who want to prepare their students for the modern world,” said SAIS President Dr. Steve Robinson. “Global benchmarking provides standards to ensure schools have an understanding of what a good program looks like, so they can achieve the best outcome for their students.”
PDS has been developing its global education program since 2004, according to Assistant Head of School for Academic Affairs, Derrick Willard. They further refined their program during their last self-study developing a cultural competency curriculum. PDS is recognized as a leader in global education and is the first in the country to offer a Global Studies diploma for its upper school students. The Global Education department, which is headed by Director Dr. Loren Fauchier, also supports global experiences for its teachers through its Global Educators Certificate Program and organizes a Global Speaker Series for faculty, students, and families.
“We were thrilled when the opportunity arose for the current self-study to help validate the program we have built,” Willard said. “When we learned of GEBG’s plans to partner with SAIS, we felt like it was important to go for this endorsement and be one of the first schools recognized as a leader in this area. We are helping both organizations establish a standard that many independent schools can aspire to, learn from, and establish at their own institution.”
Willard added that it was ideal to do GEBG’s assessment in conjunction with its SAIS self-study. “The self-study process is always a reflective pause in the life cycle of an institution and we were already collecting so much data about our programs. So in terms of being able to do it, it was not difficult to pull that information together."
PDS Head Dr. Glyn Cowlishaw added that the endorsement is a valuable differentiator for schools aspiring to be globally focused. “In Charlotte, we are known as a global school and we absolutely love that,” he said. “A global focus is part of our DNA. It differentiates us locally, regionally, and even nationally. It’s an opportunity to spread the message on how important global education is for us, but also for this nation and the independent school community as we become more globally driven, centered, and focused.”
Along with receiving the endorsement from GEBG, PDS will also receive feedback about their program and a copy of its recently released iBook Global Education: A Roadmap to Program Development. Fluharty was one of the editors of the book, which includes videos, PowerPoint presentations, data, and forms from more than 20 contributing authors. He calls the book a bible of global education programs, providing multiple perspectives, stories, and standards from experts across the country.
“Hope for our planet lies in people developing deep empathy for, and understanding of, one another,” said Vicki Weeks, founder of Global Weeks. “I have dedicated my career to helping people meet, work, and play together for a means of increasing understanding and compassion. This book is a doorway to helping others evolve their own passions for global education.”
GEBG was formed by four schools in 2007: Cape Henry Collegiate School, Charlotte Country Day School, Providence Day School, and Lakeside School. Fluharty had recently developed CHC’s Nexus Center for Global Studies based on global programs he’d seen at the college level. Global programs were just starting to go beyond the standard study abroad program, and he wanted to know what other schools were doing. He also saw the opportunity of gathering data on their programs and created a 70-question survey. The survey collected data regarding the number of students going abroad and where they were going, how many received financial aid, how much of the school’s endowment covered global studies, the degree of global curriculum available, and in what programs schools were participating. The need for such collaboration was evident in GEBG’s rapid growth. Twelve schools participated in its first meeting in 2008. Fluharty describes the group as bright, forward thinking, and passionate about global education. They were eager to share information and develop standards. Today, GEBG has 160 member schools across the country.
“It’s wonderful to be able to share what we are doing because you always learn something,” Fluharty said. “For instance, CHC didn’t previously have a middle school global education program. After a survey of our schools we realized most did, so we added that to our curriculum.”
GEBG’s current Executive Director is Joe Vogel, Director of the Center for Global Citizenship at Hathaway Brown School in Shaker Heights, OH. He says the endorsement is really the culmination of the work GEBG has been doing for the last seven years, and they anticipate it will quickly become a preferred benchmark for global education programs. “I can’t overstate the importance of this as an initiative of the GEBG, and what it means for independent schools and advancing global education across the country,” he said. “It’s one of the tangible ways we can partner with schools to evaluate and give credibility, but also highlight and commend things they are doing well and given suggestions for things they could do better.”
He added, “The endorsement also solidifies what we have been talking about for so long with this global education component. It is no longer optional or a nice add-on. We believe, as an organization, that if schools say they are preparing students for the 21st century, this is a critical part of that. And to be able to partner with SAIS and evaluate schools is the first step in reaching schools nationwide regarding their global education programs."
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