Partnerships. Local ones, international ones, public-private ones, online ones. Partnerships between schools, between teachers, between academic departments, between students, between teachers and students, between the school and students, between the school and parents, between the school and the community in which it exists. More and more the value of partnerships is finding its way into the identities and the realities of schools. Some partnerships are making their way from the co-curriculum into the curriculum, while others are pulling our schools and some of our students’ learning out of the classroom and into the world.
The first two days of this week have provided numerous examples of the opportunity to harness the power of partnerships. I have written often in Ross All Over the Map about the importance of creating a Progress Culture in schools, and of late I have been constantly reminded that partnerships will be a cornerstone of establishing, maintaining, and expanding such a culture.
This week we have welcomed students from Holy Trinity College, Mar del Plata, Argentina for a three-week exchange (we will send students to Holy Trinity in June); we have had meeting about setting up a partnership with a school in Beijing; and we have had a meeting with another school in town about exploring a partnership for a summer course for both public and private school students, which will will dive deeply into real-world/Atlanta issues by way of a problem-based approach. Tomorrow I will be part of a conference Skype for a committee for the Global OnLine Academy (check out the Academy’s new web-page–it is really nice!). My work with the committee is the first experience I have had where all the work of the partnership has occurred by way of email and Skype. The Academy is delivering quality learning experiences for students in an online setting. These students are creating partnerships with students and teachers who are likely several time zones away, and schools that were only aware of each other by reputation are now sharing faculty (i.e., a course taught by a teacher at Lakeside Academy in Seattle will be accepted onto the transcripts of students from Westminster in Atlanta, GA, or Punahou in Honalulu, HI, or King’s Academy in Madaba-Manja, Jordan). Partnerships.
I am struck with the realization that the schools best able to nurture these partnerships (rather than just accumulate them) will be positioned to give their students the most meaningful and sustainable experiences.