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Global Education, Language Learning

Unifying One School through Global Learning

For almost a decade, students at W.H. Owen Elementary have learned core subjects (reading, writing, social studies, math) in Spanish, starting when they are in Kindergarten. Students experience meaningful language learning, while exploring cultures from around the world.

“There is such a shift in this atmosphere, everyone is so excited about learning and growth,” said Assistant Principal Latreicia Allen. “I credit the global learning initiative.”

While the school has run a successful language immersion program for a long time, the staff could feel a subtle divide between students in the immersion program and those who were not. School leadership wanted to unite the school and found that global concepts provided meaningful learning experiences to all students.

“Our process started this summer to go global,” Allen said. “We’re starting to see students, staff, custodians—everyone has adopted a global mindset and we’re seeing a lot more unity and collaboration. The global idea has truly unified us.”

'We’re starting to see students, staff, custodians—everyone has adopted a global mindset and we’re seeing a lot more unity and collaboration. The global idea has truly unified us.'

This year, the school started to infuse global themes and concepts into every subject and grade level, in addition to the language immersion program.

“I believe I am a world citizen and that’s what I want to show my students,” said Jhonatan Osorio, a 4th grade language immersion teacher. “The more we learn about others, the more we can celebrate our differences.”

Osorio said students and families that have never traveled beyond Fayetteville, N.C., where the school is located, now want to travel the world.

“A parent of one of my students wants to give her son a passport when he is in fifth grade,” Osorio said. “That is because of what he is learning in school.”

Staff at the school work on professional development with their grade level teams to infuse global themes into core subjects. Allen said something new they also implemented this year with great success was asking all teachers to take students on a virtual field trip.

“Students watched a ‘cultural kitchen’ presentation, where they were shown how to prepare an international dish and the culture behind it,” Allen said. “Students are still talking about it months later.”

Allen said that, in addition to professional development, part of her job is to ensure the school’s mission and vision statement is being carried out throughout the school. She does this partly by spending a lot of time with students in the classroom. Allen said shadowing a Kindergarten student throughout her instructional day was one of the highlights of her school year so far.

“Students were actively engaged, global components were being infused and technology was used in the classroom to maximize learning,” Allen said. “Teachers were celebrating students.”

Osorio agrees, saying he wants to teach his students to love learning and provide them with opportunities to help solve challenges.

“If I have fun in class, they will too,” he said. “I don’t want them to just work for the reward, like a high-five or candy, we are working for learning.”

'If I have fun in class, they will too.'

One of the biggest differences Allen sees in students who are exposed to language learning and global curriculum is the curiosity and compassion for the world students display.

“There’s more to life than just Fayetteville to them,” Allen said. “At the end of the day, we want students to become 21st century global leaders.”

For more resources on global education and dual language, check out these collections: