6/21/16 Harrison emphasizes global learning

Harrison emphasizes global learning
By Jessica Williams, The Times-News 6/21/16  
Reprinted with permission.      

   ABSS is bringing the world to Alamance County.

   At Elon Elementary, students have designed Moroccan rugs in math class, mapped their cultural heritages and used the information for graphing, created silhouettes of Africa for art, and done a variety of other global projects. Principal Jack Davern says he’s noticed the difference it’s made.

   “I think the major thing I’ve observed is students are more authentically engaged and more connected to the world around them, and I think it’s allowed them to think more diversely,” he said.

   Elon is just one part of the bigger picture for ABSS and Alamance County as a whole. In a recent article for EducationNC, Superintendent Bill Harrison discussed the ongoing global education initiative, emphasizing the importance of such learning experiences in an increasingly global community.

   “The fact is, we are working hard to be an example of how a community prepares its next generation for the global realities of the local economy… In an interconnected world, students need a greater awareness and understanding of different cultures, increased access to second language skills, and classroom content that is relevant,” Harrison said.

   This focus on global education is nothing new. In 2007, ABSS partnered with David Young, CEO of VIF International Education, to bring content and resources to the schools. Since then, the company has provided international teachers, support for emerging programs, and global passport online training for teachers, ensuring that not only the students are involved.

   Teachers’ participation is evidenced throughout the school system. At Marvin B. Smith Elementary, teachers participate in a global professional development platform where they earn digital badges for their work.

   “Badges are proudly displayed as a way for students and visitors to see that we are transforming into a more globally and culturally competent school,” Principal Julie Hancock said. “Global education isn’t something we do at Smith. It’s who we are.”

   Teachers are also given opportunities to travel and observe teaching methods in other cultures. This week, Alamance County Teacher of the Year, Kevin Scharen, is visiting South Africa for a 10-day learning experience sponsored by Go Global NC.

   Harrison hopes to expand global education efforts to other schools, such as EM Yoder and Alexander Wilson Elementary Schools, this coming year. For now, he’s proud of the progress made. On plans for the future, Harrison added, “North Carolina isn’t just going to be more global in the future; North Carolina is global now.”