Up to five students may travel to a conference in Cape Town, South Africa, next fall, thanks to the school’s new affiliation with Round Square (RS), an international network of 160 schools that participate in exchanges and global conferences, Director of Global Education Karina Baum said.
As what RS calls a “Candidate School” on the way to becoming a “Global Member,” the school has officially joined the international group’s network and will participate in regular RS exchange and community service programs.
Within two years of becoming Candidate Schools, applicants for Global Membership must submit a report informing RS of how they plan on developing RS’s involvement within the school. Dr. Baum said that she will complete that report by the end of the month and that the school is very likely to become a full member. At that point, as many as five students will be cleared to attend the annual RS International Conference—a student-run event hosted by a RS member school and featuring workshops and presentations about global education. Candidate Schools may send only two students to international conferences.
A month after she and Head of School Rebecca Upham flew to Switzerland to attend the 2016 RS International Conference in October as guests (see ‘Round Square to shape school’s global education,’ Vol. 45, Issue No. 5), Dr. Baum completed the first written application to RS. The application asked for information like how involved the school is in exchange programs, how the school has constructed the student experience with respect to the RS pillars of education—internationalism, democracy, environmentalism, adventure, leadership, and service—and what the school hopes to gain from membership.
On December 7, RS CEO Rachael Westgarth and Chairman Rod Fraser then toured the US campus to contextualize the information on the written application, Dr. Baum said. The two ate lunch with faculty and student leaders and met with Dr. Baum, Ms. Upham, and Board of Trustees Member Diala Ezzeddine.
Ms. Westgarth said the school showed particular strength in executing RS’s democracy pillar through the power of student voice.
“We got a strong sense from the moment we arrived that the school’s activities, philosophy, and interests are very much student-driven and that student voice, inquiry, investigation, and active citizenship are qualities that are positively promoted throughout the school,” she said.
Mr. Fraser agreed, citing the school’s theater program—in which students act, produce, and create three productions a year—and student publications in particular.
“The publications and how they were encouraged to build strong voices in their school environment demonstrated to me a liberal and sound educational environment,” he said.
Both Mr. Fraser and Ms. Westgarth noted being especially struck by the welcoming atmosphere of the school’s community members. Ms. Westgarth said she found students to be “bright, bubbly, inquisitive, engaged, and enthusiastic” and commented that they would be “an asset to any [Round Square] conference, project, or exchange activity.”
Following the tour, Ms. Westgarth and Mr. Fraser wrote an evaluation of the school and sent it, along with the school’s original application, to the heads of the RS Global Member schools in the Americas region. Those heads then unanimously voted in favor of BB&N’s admission, Mr. Fraser said, and Dr. Baum was notified of the school’s acceptance on January 23.
Dr. Baum and Upper School (US) Director Geoff Theobald then went to St. Andrew’s School in February to attend the RS Americas Regional Meeting for Heads and Representatives. The experience there, Dr. Baum said, reaffirmed her belief that RS’s goal to develop students’ “academic, physical, cultural, and spiritual aspirations” fit well with the school’s own vision for its global education program.
Ms. Upham, too, expressed excitement for the partnership, adding that RS’s extensive networks for faculty and staff will help the school to commit to curricula that are more global in perspective.
Looking ahead, Dr. Baum said she and Ms. Upham hope students who attend the international conference and are passionate about the RS pillars will form a RS Advisory Board to discuss how to implement its lessons within the school.
“The growth of the anti-globalizing forces around the world as exemplified in the U.S. and in Europe makes Round Square more important than it’s ever been for its schools,” Mr. Fraser said, and Dr. Baum, on behalf of this school, agreed.