We have seen the developments and expansion of the Educate Magis website over the past several years really help animate the global conversations and initiatives at our school. What was once a site visited by few has become a platform all members in our Prep community – faculty, staff, administrators and board members – are aware of, and turn to for inspiration and collaboration within our Global Jesuit School Network. It is exciting to see how the Educate Magis website is facilitating our work and we are encouraged by the potential it has to continue to allow us “to collaborate in solidarity as a global community.”
In an effort to be more intentional in utilizing Educate Magis on a more systematic level here at Saint Peter’s Prep, we decided to dedicate part of our teacher training schedule this year to global education. One of the benefits of this approach has been the collaborative discussions that develop whenever you bring together a group of teachers — evidenced by the online conversations on Educate Magis and the in-person conversations we’ve had here on campus. In our most recent strategic plan, Prep identified global education as an essential element of 21st century learning. In it, global education is described as fostering creativity and innovation, critical thinking and problem-solving, communication and collaboration. Here are a few examples of how global education has been discussed at Prep in recent years with the use of Educate Magis as an integral component.
Most recently, on October 30th, as part of ongoing professional development, faculty members in years 1 through 5 met for an extended meeting focused on global education that included activities and discussions designed to extend Prep’s classrooms digitally across the globe. A highlight of the afternoon was videoconferencing with Ciara Beuster, who in addition to providing an overview of current projects that have linked schools, shared a few ideas that our teachers and students might want to expand upon in areas such as environmental awareness and action and large-scale classroom-based activities. After the video conference, the afternoon continued with good conversation and ideas on how to utilize and expand upon the many resources available through Educate Magis. Boreta Singleton, Director of Faculty Formation, was grateful for the spirited participation of all who attended and remarked that this meeting was “one more way our Prep faculty members model an openness to growth that continually renews the Ignatian values upon which our school is based.”
This meeting was a continuation of several initiatives that are present in our school community thanks in large part to the Educate Magis platform. Two years ago, at our regular end-of-the-year meetings, we dedicated time for all members of our adult community to create an Educate Magis account and explore the new features of the site at that time; although many colleagues were familiar with the site, it was brand new to others, and for everyone, it was practical to peruse the site together at the same time. More usage has led to more collaboration over the past couple of years: the whole school community has taken part in the Global Red Chair project, a group of Prep students and visiting German Exchange students participated in the Walk a mile in my shoes refugee simulation, and several different classes have participated in global projects and competitions, such as the Cuentos para la paz (Tales for Peace), the Young Global Reporters Map Contest, and the Virtual Global Christmas Prayer. Similarly, colleagues have connected with educators at Jesuit schools across the globe via conversations and the Global Citizenship Course. We receive continuous support from our Board of Trustees, who are interested in hearing how our programming is affecting all of our students; given the accessibility of these online projects, more of our students are directly participating in global education initiatives regularly throughout the school year, in addition to our exchange programs when we host students and faculty for two weeks at a time from several schools in the network, including Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Peru, and Spain.
We realize this work is ongoing, imperfect at times, and not without its challenges — we find solace in the proverb nothing ventured, nothing gained, and are focused on this process as a journey, one that we share with not only each other, but with our students, “in the creation of a hope-filled future” that is unimaginable in isolation. The JESEDU-Rio2017 Action Statement clearly articulates that global connections are and will continue to be a priority for the worldwide mission of the Society of Jesus, especially in the realm of education. The document identifies several ways that the education delegates of the provinces and regions will foster and monitor this global thinking mindset. Given this trajectory, along with the support of Educate Magis, it is clear to us that the future of Jesuit education throughout the world will continue to grow and develop in ways–and at speeds–that Ignatius and his first companions may not have been able to imagine in the 16th century. But, given how innovative and adaptable those first Jesuits were, we are confident that they would be well pleased with how Jesuit schools are utilizing the global network to bring schools–and the people who populate them–closer together in service to the shared mission of Jesuit education for our time.
Jim DeAngelo, ‘85, Principal, and Tom Powers, Director of Global Programs. Saint Peter’s Prep. Jersey City, NJ