Brewster Team Helps Shape the Global Education Conversation

Brewster Team Helps Shape the Global Education Conversation
Suzanne Morrissey

Brewster Academy is now one of just 22 schools designated as “Leading Partner Schools” with the Global Education Benchmark Group (GEBG), an organization of K-12 schools that researches and establishes model practices in the field of global education and supports schools to bring global perspectives, global issues, and global competencies into their teaching and learning. 

Student leaders Al Zaharaa Al Zaabi ’23 and Sylvie Skibicki ’23, along with Dr. Marta Filip-Fouser, Dean of Teaching and Learning and Head of Educational Research for Brewster, (in photo, from left) work on GEBG leadership councils that guide the development of an international dialogue program reaching thousands of students at more than 75 schools from around the world. Their work compounds Brewster’s status as a leader in global education, supporting the school’s stated vision to offer “an approach to learning with the exponential power to transform education, communities, and the lives of students in our care.”

Al Zaabi and Skibicki were selected to be members of the GEBG Global Student Dialogues program Student Advisory Council. Throughout the 2022-2023 school year, they join student leaders from other select schools in monthly summits. At the summits, students discuss how to further develop these events through meaningfully selected topics and student-driven breakout sessions. 

This program provides the participants the opportunity for intercultural dialogue and connects thousands of students with their peers around the world. They have addressed topics of global significance such as climate change and gender equality, topics related to global current events such as the ongoing war in Ukraine, and various UN Sustainable Development Goals in order to develop the student intercultural communication and perspective-taking. Students engage in conversations in small groups, sharing their experiences and thoughts and practicing essential skills related to respectful civil discourse. Students report that the two skills they practice most in this program are listening for understanding and listening with empathy, key components of a Brewster education as well.

Skibicki comments that being part of this important work has taught her the importance of using communication as a tool to create positive change. “Learning from others’ lived experiences and having access to those experiences through the monthly student dialogues has been the most interesting part of this work,” she says. “I find the opportunity to regularly connect with people from all different walks of life utterly fascinating.”

Al Zaabi says the experience has been both enjoyable and informative. “It has been welcoming since it allows participants to network with peers from all across the country,” she says. “It’s been inspiring to hear individuals from so many different countries discuss the pressing problems they're working to solve. It has also been fascinating to learn about the various activities in which people engage as they work to find solutions to these problems.” She notes that the monthly summit group has discussed conducting and participating in effective dialogues, adding that she feels the most important topic the group has covered so far is mental health. “Most of us found common ground and agreed that mental health is something that is frequently disregarded and not prioritized in schools,”Al Zaabi explained. “Our mental, emotional, and social health all factor into this. Most schools only talk about their efforts and never actually put any of the proposed solutions into place.”

“To me, the best part of the Global Student Dialogues is that students get to co-design them, share their perspectives, and have an opportunity to collaborate with other students from around the world,” Dr. Filip-Fouser shared. 

Dr. Filip-Fouser participates in the adult counterpart to the Student Dialogues program—the Educator Advisory Council—during which leading educators in the field of global education develop curricular materials that will help thousands of students become more engaged global citizens.    
“From an educator's perspective, I have really enjoyed connecting with other adults and considering different approaches that provide students with a space to engage in cross-cultural communication on many important issues,” she says. 
The Global Education Benchmark Group (GEBG), has developed and hosted these dialogues with the support of the E.E. Ford Foundation. Through this grant and the collaboration of the Leading Partner Schools, GEBG will expand the dialogue program and develop accompanying competency-based curricular resources adaptable for use by classroom teachers and program leaders. This grant will also allow GEBG to continue to offer these dialogues at no cost, ensuring equity of access and engaging a wide range of cultural, linguistic, geographic, and socio-economic identities and perspectives, in support of all students being able to continue developing the skills related to respectful civil discourse of issues of global significance.
List of the Leading Partner Schools for the Global Education Benchmark Group:
Academy of Notre Dame de Namur, PA 
Appleby College, ON
Buckingham Browne & Nichols School, MA
Brewster Academy, NH
Castilleja School, CA
Columbus School for Girls, OH 
Flintridge Preparatory School, CA 
Friends Seminary, NY
Groton School, MA
Holton Arms School, MD
Holy Innocents Episcopal School, GA 
Lower Canada College, QC 
McDonogh School, MD
Miami Country Day School, FL
Pace Academy, GA
Palmer Trinity School, FL
Polytechnic School, CA
Providence Day School, NC
Rye Country Day School, NY
St Andrew's Episcopal School, MS
St Mary's Episcopal School, TN
St. Mark's School, MA

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