Newton North and Newton South High Schools
The two public high schools in Newton, Massachusetts, Newton North and Newton South, have a long-standing commitment to integrating international content into the curriculum and the extracurricular experiences of their students. Combined they serve approximately 3,500 students, predominantly Caucasian with about 12% Asian and 5% African American students. Following several major curricular reviews in the last fifteen years, the schools have sought to balance once Euro-centric social studies and English courses with focus on other world regions and authors. The mandatory two-year world history course for all grade 9 and 10 students covers units on Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Electives include regional studies courses on East Asia, the Caribbean, and an environmental studies course using regional case studies.
The centerpiece of the Newton district’s international education focus however is its strong world languages program, which offers courses in Chinese, French, Italian, Russian and Spanish, for grades 6 through 12. Each language is complemented with a study abroad option, facilitated by partnerships with schools in China, France, Italy, Mexico, Spain and Cuba, and Russia. The China exchange program, the oldest of its kind in the country, is founded on a 25-year relationship with the Beijing Jingshan School. On both the U.S. and Chinese side, students and faculty live with host families, are immersed in classrooms, lead presentations and demonstrations, and engage in extracurricular activities, all in the language of their host country. Newton students are selected ten months in advance of the exchange to allow for in-depth orientation, semester-long preparatory courses with visiting Chinese teachers, and six-week summer language program. Preference is given to students with prior Chinese language training.
The exchange program’s success has had repercussions both within the district and throughout the state and country. It served as a catalyst for district-wide curriculum reform, bringing the study of Eastern cultures into different academic disciplines—from social studies to science. It has also led to the creation of an affiliated China Exchange Initiative that now replicates the Newton model in states from Maine and New Hampshire to North Carolina and Oklahoma.
Glastonbury High School , a public school with approximately 1900 students, is located in the suburban town of Glastonbury, Connecticut, five miles south of Hartford. The student body is predominantly white, with about 15% minority students. Glastonbury has a long tradition of focusing on the importance of international education and especially foreign language education. All incoming Glastonbury students are required to take at least one semester history course in a non-Western geographic/cultural region; these include Africa, East Asia, India and Southeast Asia, Islamic World, and Latin America and the Caribbean. In addition, all seniors are required to take a yearlong course in Civics/Current Issues. The content of this course is split evenly between contemporary domestic and international issues. Glastonbury also offers elective courses in world religions and the history of art in different world regions.
93% of the student body is engaged in active study of one foreign language, and 30% study more than one language. This strong program builds on a K-8 language requirement in the district. The foreign language curriculum is thematic and interdisciplinary, integrating both national foreign language and world history standards. Languages offered are Spanish, French, Latin and Japanese. Glastonbury also has a particularly strong Russian program and since 1989 has annually exchanged students and teachers with the former Soviet Union and Republics. Glastonbury teachers have held leadership positions in their respective fields nationally and have received national scholarship funding to pursue continued development domestically and abroad.
Eugene International High School (IHS) is a suburban school-within-a-school model on four high schools campuses in Eugene, Oregon. It serves 1,460 students from grades 9-12 and is predominantly Caucasian. Admission to IHS is based on self-nomination and predicated on an interest in international studies. Attention is paid to international education at every grade level, with the curriculum centered thematically around culture, history, political systems, economic systems and belief systems and subsequently studied in regional categories: Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. Classes include: Global Geography; Global Literature, Values and Beliefs; Global History; History of the Americas; Comparative Economic and Political Systems; Theory of Knowledge; and 20 th Century World History.
IHS also encourages students to engage in independent research in preparation for the culminating 4,000-word Extended Essay in 11 th and 12 th grade with an international focus. A portion of each student’s required service-learning must be with an international company or organization. Students must also complete a minimum of four years of foreign language study. Languages offered include Spanish, French, Japanese and German, with immersion study options available. Finally, students have the option of pursuing the International Baccalaureate Diploma with examinations in six subjects, or, they may earn an IB certificate in any of 12 areas of study, both for college credit.