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 does 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.