The Wheeler Strategic Design for 2023 — Within and a Part of the World: Increase curricular and expeditionary opportunities to further engage local, national and global dilemmas and communities.
Future Trips: Galapagos, Paris & Portugal
Future Trips: Alaska, Kenya, and Peru
BySpanish Language Faculty and Coordinator of Global Experiences
Walk around campus and you’ll often see a colorful graphic “Promise Statement” hung on classroom doors or walls and bulletin boards. It is a belief statement we created as a school community when our new Mission debuted one year ago this November.
As part of our discussions, a group of 27 dedicated faculty and staff, interested in experiential and global education, were charged by Head of School, Allison Gaines Pell to research and recommend a global travel program. We wanted a program that is effective, equitable and sustainable; a program unique to Wheeler that will enhance and contribute to the values and desired outcomes that we hold dear. We designed a program that:
- provides opportunities to expand our students’ world view
- helps students gain self-awareness and build skills especially in empathy communication, adaptability and relationship building
- helps our students view the world as their classroom
- assists in our students becoming global citizens who promote the common good locally, nationally and internationally
- offers students opportunities to explore their unique passions in STEM, language, arts, culture, music, performing arts, outdoor leadership, service learning, environmental and social justice leadership and more.
A Legacy of Global Education since 1887
Our school has had a long commitment to experiential education beginning with school founder Mary C. Wheeler, who was a pioneer for such experiences. She began our school with global education as a priority. Beginning in 1887, before the school was officially opened, Miss Wheeler took her students to Europe to study art, music, and language. These trips ran each year until the outset of World War I in 1912.
It has been a dream of mine, since starting at Wheeler 14 years ago, to help breathe new life into the travel experiences we offer and help develop a dedicated global program here. My first words to Head of School Allison Gaines Pell, during her interview process, were, in fact, “What are your thoughts on global education?” Thanks to her openness and our school’s dedication to experiential education, this part of the Wheeler Promise Statement — Experience, in class and in the world, leads to insight and wisdom — is coming true.
To further support these efforts, Wheeler has also joined thewhose members are other independent N-12 schools dedicated to the development of their students as global citizens, often through implementing global curriculum, meaningful experiences and relationship-building opportunities through partnerships with schools abroad, travel programs and international organizations.
As we part of our Global Education Initiative, we include financial assistance (in part from a philanthropic gift by the late Wheeler faculty member Edith Erlenmeyer) to make these experiences a reality for many who otherwise may not be able to participate. I thank our administration, Board, and also Miss Wheeler —on a dark and bumpy ship, with her young students venturing across the Atlantic, paintbrushes, and canvases in tow, with a light in her heart and a fire in her belly — for leading the way.
“The Iceland trip was an amazing experience for me as a rising junior in high school. Not only was I exposed to a different and beautiful culture, but I also learned so much about how different countries function given their available resources and how some even create their own. In the few days we spent there I was immersed in the beauty and the interesting customs of the native land and people. Their emphasis on conservation and effort for stabilization really impacted me and encouraged me to apply them to our own country. It was such an amazing opportunity to learn about such important things in another country and be able to bring back that knowledge and use it in my everyday life. I’m so grateful for our trip to Iceland and hope someday to go back.”
Sana Iqbal ’19 , Testimonial after Iceland 2018
“When I decided to go to Spain, I was excited about the culture of the country. However, I was not ready for how the experience would change me as an individual. I was able to achieve my original goal with eagerness to learn about the country. The sights in areas like Cordoba and Toledo were so breathtaking that I felt like I was in a dream. Pinching myself became a regular routine throughout our journey. The sights, language, and food made me discover a once lost piece of myself. This experience helped me to grow my language, smile more, and be more confident in my abilities. My only wish is that I could repeat the trip once more!”
Holly Tente ’19, Testimonial after Spain 2018
A Personal Reflection
Global experiences, for me as a person, both as a student and educator, have helped shape my life. My mom, a single mom, was not able to afford the trips offered at my high school, but seeing those experiences offered by my passionate high school teachers, and knowing that such possibilities existed, sparked an interest in both me and my mom to work to make travel and study abroad experiences a reality. From the twenty-year-old boarding a plane for the first time to study abroad in Buenos Aires, to earning a Masters in Spanish in Madrid, to working in San Felipe, Chile as a Fulbright Teacher, I can attest to the transformative benefits of global education. The relationships I have built, the self-discovery opportunities that pushed me to reach beyond my comfort zone, and the many ways I needed to adapt inspired me not only to become an educator, and a cultural ambassador as a Fulbright teacher but to also share such experiences with the students I now teach. At my previous school, in Montclair, NJ, I led a Global Experience Program to organize travel and exchange opportunities for hundreds of students and created partnerships with schools worldwide. I am grateful to be able to use this experience and knowledge here at Wheeler.
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