Schools are historically rooted in the villages, towns and cities in which they are situated. Almost all are single-city, single-country institutions. They teach about matters beyond their boundaries, but they do not operate in any meaningful way outside them. Over time, some have evolved to serve “national communities.” Leading examples include England’s Eton, India’s Doon School, America’s Exeter and China’s Shanghai High. While these “national” schools teach about the larger world and include students from diverse locations, their operations still largely exist in one country and on a single campus.
If “local” schools are the first step in the evolution of schooling and “national” schools are the second step, the decades ahead are likely to bring the third step: global schools. Thirty years from now there will likely be a number of such organizations. Avenues plans to be the best of this new breed of educational institution—hence its subtitle: The World School.
Begin by thinking Avenues Beijing, Avenues London, Avenues São Paulo, Avenues Mumbai.
Think of Avenues as one international school with 20 or more campuses. It will not be a collection of 20 different schools all pursuing different educational strategies, but rather one highly-integrated “learning community,” connected and supported by a common vision, a shared curriculum, collective professional development of its faculty, the wonders of modern technology and a highly-talented headquarters team located here in New York City.
Every school brochure will say that today’s great schools must prepare students for global life. If the 20th century was dominated by American leadership, the 21st century will be, as one Chinese leader said, “a kitchen with many chefs.” Modern students must have more than a passing understanding of other cultures, speak other languages fluently and appreciate other histories.
A global school with faculty and campuses in all the world’s largest cultures will have a huge (and, today, virtually unique) advantage in achieving these new educational requirements. Existing in and working with another culture is the best way to learn about it.
Imagine that the chair of Avenues’ Spanish language studies is located at the Avenues campus in Madrid. She helps to recruit Spanish teachers for Avenues schools all over the world; selects the best Spanish courseware; conducts professional development/training programs for Spanish teachers; and runs the immersion programs in Madrid in which many Avenues students from around the world will participate.
Imagine that a student in Middle and Upper School spends (during a portion of several summers) a number of six- to eight-week periods studying at campuses in Buenos Aires, Paris, Delhi and Johannesburg. Imagine that in Upper School that student deepens his grasp of the Mandarin he has been studying since pre-kindergarten by spending a full semester at Avenues’ campus in Beijing. That amounts to 12-15 months on five different continents before graduation from Upper School. Admissions offices of top colleges and universities appreciate high school students who have real international experience (versus tourism with an educational label, typically in Western Europe). Although Avenues will not require such foreign study, the hundreds of parents and students with whom Avenues’ leaders have spoken have consistently seen great potential value in such a program.
Imagine that Avenues encourages all teachers to spend a year overseas working at another Avenues campus. Such exposure ensures that each Avenues campus is both infused with faculty from abroad and faculty who have worked abroad.
Imagine that a career opportunity requires a family to move from New York to Hong Kong or London for two to four years in order to gain important international experience. Rather than going through the trauma of finding a new school, the children would be automatically admitted to Avenues in the new city—as well as back at Avenues New York upon return. No need to “miss a beat” because the educational design is completely consistent from campus to campus.
These are just four aspects of how Avenues: The World School is going to serve students and families in important new ways.
This dream began in Chelsea in fall 2012 and will continue to grow in the decades ahead.
Avenues’ global headquarters in New York City will provide central and support functions for Avenues’ system of schools. One advantage of a system of schools (versus a single-site school) is that certain core competencies can be built up at a system level that would be economically difficult, even impossible, for a single school to develop. These provide meaningful benefits to both students and faculty. Here are three examples of the value of a headquarters (HQ) function:
Most schools have department chairs, teachers who “double” as coordinators of subject areas such as history or mathematics. Avenues does this as well, but these campus-based chairs will, over time, be supported by full-time departmental experts at the HQ level. For example, HQ will have a system-wide expert on languages to assist each school in selecting its language faculty, coordinate the selection of language courseware, conduct the professional development/training programs for language faculty worldwide, generally stay abreast of cutting-edge work in language acquisition, and conduct ongoing research and development on language studies. Imagine similar “system-wide” positions in mathematics, the World Course, science, early childhood education, the arts, fitness and athletics, and so forth.
Avenues will build a two-part college counseling and admission function. As with every top school, there is on-site college counseling for all Upper School students. In addition, there will be an HQ function related to college counseling and college/university relations. This team, which will be headed by someone who has previously held a senior post in the admissions function of a top college or university, will provide advice and support to all on-campus college counseling teams. Equally important, HQ staff will meet with senior admissions officials at the world’s top colleges and universities both to stay up-to-date on what each institution offers and to ensure that these admissions offices know the attributes of an Avenues graduate. Few single-site schools are able to support such wide coverage of higher education options and maintain research about them.
Study abroad capabilities will be housed at HQ. Working closely with school leadership and faculty, this team will develop all summer abroad studies programs (first in programs supervised out of New York and later in programs offered at other Avenues campuses). It will also design and coordinate the semester abroad programs. A core objective of this group will be to ensure that every Avenues student has, during the course of his or her middle and upper school years, multiple overseas opportunities that are highly integrated into the “home campus” curriculum.
These are just a few examples of the support functions at the Avenues HQ. Such capabilities will expand with each campus opened, and over time they will become a uniquely powerful part of the quality of an Avenues education.
Over the next decade or so Avenues plans to build campuses in 20 or more of the world’s leading cities. Avenues expects to be in all or most of the following:
October 14, 2015 - Julia Higdon joined Avenues in spring 2014 as the manager of research and analytics. Part of the Global Education Team at the headquarters office, she is responsible for conducting programs of research, particularly in organizational health and school climate, as well as program evaluation. More...