12/11/13 — Getting a view of the world

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Getting a view of the world

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on December 11, 2013 1:46 PM

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During one of the World View trips, in 2012, students from Spring Creek High School enjoyed a gondola ride on the Venetian Canal. Clockwise from top, Emily Daniel, Karen Best, Heather Frey, Amy Creech, Morgan Howell and Tara Davis.

As a U.S. and world history teacher at Spring Creek High School, Scott Hardy enjoys giving his students a glimpse of what the rest of the world is like.

And while a virtual tour from his classroom is fine, even more rewarding, he says, is being able to accompany them on trips to the places they have only seen in books or pictures.

To date, he has gone on 13 World View trips with students and taken one with a group of educators. In the spring, he'll be taking a group to Scotland and Ireland, one of five World View trips approved for area high schools, and accompanying a group of WCPS employees to Ireland in June.

The World View program was first introduced in the district under then-Superintendent Jimmy Williams when Wayne County Public Schools was invited to partner with the program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Established in 1998 by UNC, World View prepares students to succeed in an "interconnected, diverse and multicultural world," said Dr. Sandra McCullen, associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

The late Bill Kemp, who was on the Board of Education at the time, championed the program and travel opportunities for both students and educators, she added.

"He solicited funds from individuals and groups to establish the Twiford Travel Award for our Teacher(s) of the Year, which is now called the Twiford-Kemp Travel Award," she said. "Mr. Kemp actually underwrote the expenses himself for the first student group to travel, which was from Goldsboro High School. That group went to the Czech Republic."

Soon after, the school board approved sponsoring someone to participate in the annual World View International Travel Study trip offered by UNC. Charles Ivey, then principal at Spring Creek Elementary School, was the first to travel in 1999, visiting Russia and Finland.

Various educators, many of them social studies teachers, and principals have participated in the annual travel opportunity over the years, Mrs. McCullen said.

"The process is open to all interested WCPS staff," she said. "The participants are required to attend seminars at UNC during the year and to come back to the system prepared to provide professional development to other teachers and administrators.

"Also, World View offers a week-long seminar for administrators to provide them leadership skills to help teachers and students to be more aware of global issues. Kevin Smith, principal of Rosewood Middle School, is an advocate for World View and works diligently with his staff to provide them with a World View perspective."

Another thing Kemp advocated for, she said, was a World View class for students at each of the high schools.

"Robert Peele, the social studies teacher at Eastern Wayne High school, developed the World View class and assisted other social studies teachers at high schools to develop World View classes," she said. "Students sign up for the classes and pay for their own trips. They research and study the countries they visit during the semester and maintain travel logs as well as prepare research papers and projects."

Hardy said he knew early on it would be advantageous to provide students with the chance to travel.

Recalling being in graduate school, he said he soon realized his own limitations among his peers when he heard them talking about places they had visited.

"My biggest exposure before that was going to Busch Gardens and on the world tour at Disney," he said with a laugh. "The hands-on just makes it for the students."

The wide-eyed expressions, the memories it creates -- hearing students call it "the best week of my life" -- are just a few reasons to appreciate the program, he said. And colleges are also looking for that, he added.

"When they get to college, they're way ahead, especially on the humanities classes," he said.

Students pay their own way, Hardy explained, but there is a group rate that defrays some of the expense.

"It probably costs about $3,000 on average," he said. "We do fundraisers at school to try to help them along the way. Since the recession's hit I have done even more, trying to help these kids out.

"It's not cheap but it is cheap, plane tickets and so forth. The only thing not paid for is lunch and souvenirs. But sometimes we're 10 to 12 days in Europe, and take these kids over a thousand miles, (by) bus and train and sometimes even a second flight. They see a lot for what amounts to $200 a day."

Hardy says that travel also provides multiple learning opportunities, incorporating literature, language and cultural enrichment opportunities. He also tries to add fun activities, like a scavenger hunt or encouraging students to make their own film to capture the experience and share with their parents.

"It's really about building memories," he said. "If I leave a hallmark as an educator, I want this to be my legacy."