J.F. Dulles Elementary School News

Challenge Day

Posted on: October 3, 2016
Challenge Day

 By partnering with Asia’s Society International Studies School Network (ISSN), Oak Hills students are fulfilling not only the school district’s mission by having all students “achieve success by graduating with a shared sense of global awareness and the critical skills to be career and college ready,” but are also preparing themselves for a place in an ever shrinking global community.  The ISSN provides a framework of instruction that helps students to investigate the world, communicate their ideas, recognize different perspectives and then take action.  These four pillars of the program push students to process real-world problems and work toward their solutions.  Are the problems of today the same problems that our students will face when they enter the workforce?  Maybe, but maybe not.  However, in order to work with the unknown problems of the future, we are preparing our students to grapple with actual issues and process worldwide debates rather than memorize facts.

The International Studies Schools Network is part of the Asia Society.  Each school in the network subscribes to the goal of developing “college-ready, globally competent high school graduates.”  Their goal is to prepare “students for work and civic roles in a globalized environment, where success increasingly requires the ability to compete, connect and cooperate on an international scale.”  The ISSN helps schools develop a learning system that focuses on international studies, meeting state standards, engaging students using inquiry-based instruction and multiple forms of assessment, incorporating innovative uses of technology to support instruction and linkages to schools around the world.  They also promote a sense of belonging for every student, provide opportunities for student international travel/exchange, make accessible internships, capstones and community service opportunities with national and international orientations and engage faculty in continuous, high-quality professional development including international opportunities.

Oak Hills High School implements the pillars of this program through a Challenge Day; On September 30, all 2700+ students in the high school participated in this day focused on the global issue of educational inequality.  Our enduring understandings for the day included:

  • Locally, nationally and internationally, the youth of the world are not educated equally or equitably.
  • The quest for education among social groups considered inferior can turn violent.
  • Educating all children is a powerful and effective way to address global poverty.
  • Barriers to education are often tied to cultural stereotypes, religious beliefs and economic considerations.
  • Solutions to the global issue can be found by shedding awareness to the problem and working towards solutions.

Students were first provided with information to help them investigate the local, national and international global issue of educational inequality.  The material was provided by teachers after a rigorous staff/administration/student vetting process, however, the entire day was run by student leaders.  The 198 student leaders who participated ran the day, facilitated the discussion and motivated their peers (while a teacher monitored the room). In doing so, students watched the movie He Named Me Malala, heard trusted keynote speaker messages, interacted with individual visitors within their homerooms and analyzed the causes of global educational inequality.

Using the same theme and the information learned from the day, students were challenged to create a proposal (using a budget of $2,000 real dollars) to improve the early educational program of our children under the age of five within our district lines.

“The outcome was unbelievable,” Meghan Sullivan, French and World History teacher at Oak Hills High School said.  Each homeroom presented at least one proposal.

Congratulations to Soula Walls and her Tartan Time for being selected by the community board and student body as the winning proposal.

“As a district, we are very excited to see it implemented,” Sullivan added. “We look forward to seeing what change our students can create in the world.”

Past challenge day themes have included stereotyping, recycle and reuse and poverty and homelessness.