Going global: LI-based academy launches new scholars program

Tenth and eleventh grade students at the Lawrence Tenth and eleventh grade students at the Lawrence Woodmere Academy during a workshop led by global education advisor Professor Carl Hobert on Jan. 28, 2014. Photo Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

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A private school in Woodmere will be the first on Long Island and the 22nd nationwide to offer a global scholar certificate to students through a program that focuses on international knowledge and complements diploma requirements.

Lawrence Woodmere Academy, a nonprofit, nonsectarian school with about 250 students in prekindergarten through 12th grade, will start offering the line of study in the fall to students in its upper school, which includes grades nine through 12. It will take four years to complete.

"We recognize we have a responsibility to give our graduates this perspective before they leave us," said Alan Bernstein, headmaster of the 102-year-old school. "It is really a matter of responsibility and it is really a matter of our legacy."

Advising the program is Boston University education professor Carl Hobert, author of "Raising Global IQ: Preparing Our Students For a Shrinking Planet" and creator of the global scholar certificate.

"This school has remodeled itself in terms of globalization and global responsibility," Hobert said during a recent visit to the academy, where he is helping to train teachers and run student workshops. "You want to open kids' eyes in the formative years of life to the fluency of languages, understanding other cultures and the ability to serve others."

Bernstein said the academy, with students from 51 ZIP codes and five countries, provides the right setting for the program. Included in the school's overall mission are the words " global responsibility."

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"We take that very seriously," the headmaster said.

The certificate's requirements include a combination of service learning, cross-cultural experiences and interdisciplinary, team-taught courses. Students will take courses on global issues and learn about the global economy, engage in reflective writings and produce a thesis-like position paper on an issue of global concern to complete the program.

They also will take a case-studies approach to conflict resolution. On a recent weekday, for example, students were divided into groups for a mock negotiation session and worked out how to divide land and property in post-genocidal Rwanda.

The program is optional for students, who in eighth grade will declare their intention to pursue the certificate. They will be evaluated each year in order to continue in it.

Current ninth-graders, slated to graduate in 2017, will have the opportunity to complete the program in three years, school officials said.

Eighth-grader William Warnock, 13, of Rockaway Park, said he plans to go for it.

"It sounds like a lot of fun -- a bit challenging, but I think it is worth it," he said.

Providence Day School in Charlotte, N.C., launched its global studies diploma several years ago and had four graduates in 2007. Last year, 95 students were graduates of the program, which had challenged them to value differences among people in the school community as well as the larger world, school officials said.

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"It has been very successful," said Loren Fauchier, Providence Day School's director of global education.

Susan Lettieri, a member of Lawrence Woodmere Academy's Global Studies Team, said the program "really is about growing global citizens."

"Students need to have the knowledge, the understanding, and they also need to have the voice to create action plans that they would bring to people who make decisions," said Lettieri, the school's director of college guidance and curriculum.

For the lower grades, instruction in Spanish will start in preschool. The academy also will offer a non-Western language to students.

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