Sarasota Christian School is helping students think globally. In an effort to encourage students to learn more about different cultures and gain a broader understanding of the world, the school has launched an international partnership program with underprivileged schools around the world.
Through an educational-support program called Global Family, each grade pairs with a school in another country. The SCS students then study the respective cultures and lifestyles of each school and raise money for them.
“In today’s world, we’re so connected,” says Dawn Graber, director of faculty and curriculum. “We want to care for our neighbors; be respectful; and learn from them. Our students have such a heart of giving, with their various projects, and this was a way for them to all be unified.”
Since the program launched last semester, student representatives from the elementary, middle and high school have been leading fundraising efforts, such as clothing drives and donation jars, to raise money for their partner schools. Each class raises $300 throughout the year, which they will donate to help purchase things such as school supplies, renovations, technology or anything else the partner school might need.
“The school we’re partnered with in Zimbabwe needed really basic supplies,” says senior Tyler Schmucker. “We’re really privileged to have the opportunity to be able to go to school here, and education is the key to a better life.”
But Graber says the program is about more than just providing financial assistance.
“We start with just the basics,” she says. “We try to learn about the different cultures. What’s different? What’s the same? What challenges are they up against? What is their day like?”
Students write letters to the schools, say prayers and give presentations to classmates about each culture, including information about the religion, government, education and daily life of each country.
“I was really happy to see that we decided to partner with international schools,” says high school social studies teacher Danny Remchuk. “It’s been really seamless to integrate this into the curriculum.”
As the program continues to develop in years to come, Superintendent Jeff Shank hopes to find further opportunities for service, such as exchange programs, but, for now, he’s happy to see his students building global relationships.
“We have a tendency to think very locally,” he says. “A highlight, for me, is knowing that the students are thinking globally and having an impact on others.”
Because of its efforts to increase students’ global and cultural knowledge, the Sarasota Sister Cities Association has recognized Sarasota Christian School. The association will honor Sarasota Christian School at a gala in March, with its “One World” award.