Byram Hills School District Takes First AMIGOS Educator-Focused Trip
In July 2017, fifteen educators from the Byram Hills School District from Armonk, New York spanning numerous disciplines, came together with AMIGOS staff in Nicaragua to deepen their understanding of AMIGOS programs, learn about the AMIGOS approach to cultural competency, youth leadership, and community development. The trip was facilitated, alongside AMIGOS staff, by the chair of the World Languages Department at the High School, Melissa Stahl, along with the English Department Chair, Duane Smith, and Jen Laden, the Social Studies Department Chair.
This trip was created to help guide the district’s initiatives for developing global citizenship. The trip included faculty members from eight departments. They were able to bring back ideas for curriculum building within their disciplines to support global competency, in addition to helping the launch of Byram Hill’s Global Scholars.
When the initial meetings were held between AMIGOS and Byram Hills, it was clear there was immediate synergy of our shared goals.
“The idea originally behind the AMIGOS partnership wasn’t for Global Scholars- that idea came out after we decided to partner. We originally wanted to educate teachers from a backward design model: here is the experience, what do you need to do in your classrooms to prepare students for something similar? Byram Hills wanted to provide a learning experience for teachers to feel firsthand what it’s like to be in a foreign place, speaking a different language, managing a task-oriented project, and AMIGOS was able to deliver that through a safe and productive program,” said Melissa Stahl. From there, the educator trip was mapped out and a group signed up with support from the school district.
During the experience, AMIGOS facilitated seven days exploring Nicaragua. The itinerary included meetings with partner agencies, community visits to meet with youth participants, and workshops to facilitate dialogue on the AMIGOS approach to community development and youth leadership. At the end of the time, the group reflected on ways in which the group could take the experience back to their community as well as the Global Scholars program at Byram Hills.
“At AMIGOS, we are excited to offer our knowledge base and experience to educators who are passionate about bringing global education and leadership into the classroom. Our partnership with Byram Hills represents an exciting opportunity to support a cutting-edge global citizenship curriculum for high school students. We could not be more thrilled with this new partnership,” said Sara Nathan, President and CEO at Amigos de las Américas.
After the experience, educators gave feedback that the experience allowed for both personal and professional development. As the Social Studies Chair put it, “the combination of travel with guided discussion will have a large impact on our work going forward. We have built a team that is “on board” and ready to lead back home. The experience has given me a clearer understanding of the AMIGOS experience and I will be able to identify clear outcomes/indicators from which a curriculum can be built- both for Global Scholars and social studies.”
As we look ahead and envision a partnership, we hope to ensure that more students at Byram Hills can have transformative in-classroom and out of classroom experiences both in their hometowns and in programs in Latin America with AMIGOS with a shared goal of building more globally competent young leaders.
Amigos de las Americas will now be offering the Educator Trip again in summer 2018 and is open to schools, districts, or middle and high school educators. More information for how to register can be found here.