East Mecklenburg serves as model in the initiative
The N.C. Board of Education recognized Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools earlier this month as a “Global-Ready District.”
CMS is one of the first two schools in the state to receive this designation and had to prepare more than 40 criterion to earn the distinction.
“This designation recognizes our longstanding commitment to preparing our students for success in a diverse, globally linked workplace and world,” Superintendent Ann Clark said. “That commitment is expressed in our curriculum and focus on teaching world languages, cultural knowledge and sensitivity, and how to succeed in a 21st-century workplace.”
The Global Ready “Prepared” Designation – the second highest level – means CMS has systems in place to help students prepare for the global market throughout college and career, as well as ensuring global perspectives and themes are integrated throughout the curriculum, said Nicolette Grant, executive director of PreK-5 learning.
“It means that we’re effectively implementing systems and structures to support global readiness, which means we’re helping the students become globally aware of issues of significance, not just at the local level, but outside the United States. (They’re making) personal connections to those issues, being able to explore their own perspective, but also other people’s perspective. They can communicate and articulate their ideas – what they want – and then take some sort of action,” said Michele Heriquez, CMS global awareness coordinator.
CMS also embeds global education in throughout the school experience, within all content areas at different grade levels.
“We are doing everything that we can for our students to not only be prepared in terms of their core skills, but to be critical thinkers, be able to collaborate across cultures and be globally engaged,” Heriquez said. “So, it isn’t just me and mine, but becoming an agent of the world and (thinking), ‘What is my focus?’”
CMS’s biggest push is to scale its efforts, including helping teachers become global educators and developing culturally awareness, as well as aiding schools become globally ready.
“What we found through the process is CMS is doing an amazing job in many different places, but we can do even more,” Heriquez said.
CMS has two schools – East Mecklenburg High School and Piedmont Open IB Middle School – that are recognized as “globally ready,” but Grant said CMS wants to look at strategies of how other schools can earn that designation, including supporting both principals and teachers in various ways.
“One of the benefits of pursuing this designation is that it helps us prepare our next steps to become even stronger in global preparation,” Clark said. “We are already beginning to strengthen and improve our programs and practices so that we can move to the top-level designation as a model district. The rigorous evaluation by DPI has helped us identify opportunities for improvement, as well as areas already successful.”
East Meck formed a global immersion team of teachers, who fostered cross-curricular programs and training.
East Meck senior Hanna Wondmagegn said she knew her school was “global” even before it earned the distinction.
She started the first food recovery program in North Carolina at her school, after noticing students often left unconsumed foods in the cafeteria. Hanna has since gone on to earn a position in a national food recovery program.
CMS hopes to take its best practices and encourage other schools to carry out the same strategies in hopes of reaching the highest level of global readiness distinction.
Grant said the district wants to roll out a clear, cohesive message about CMS’ commitment to global readiness.