SPARTANBURG — The University of South Carolina Upstate is poised to partner with school districts in the region to help them develop international programs that will broaden offerings for high school students and help them be stronger college candidates. The partnership will also facilitate international professional development opportunities for teachers and staff.
USC Upstate Chancellor Brendan B. Kelly said all school districts in both Spartanburg and Union counties were invited to sign the memorandum of understanding on Jan. 11 at the Chapman Cultural Center. Kelly said USC Upstate has accepted a leadership position in the Upstate in working to bolster the success of local students.
“By supporting the district schools in the Upstate, we carry out our commitment to our community in educating and preparing students for effective and successful lives and careers in increasingly diverse and globally interdependent communities,” Kelly said recently. “USC Upstate has been engaged in global education for several decades, and we have the expertise to be a valuable resource and strong partner to the district schools.”
Dr. Clif Flynn, provost and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs, echoed Kelly, “Through the partnerships the University will be able to “support district schools in their pursuit of establishing and developing their own international education programs.”
According to the memorandum of understanding, the program will explore ways for sharing resources and expertise in establishing international partnerships, program development, and student and teacher exchanges; create opportunities for international engagement of students, teachers, and staff; establish pathways that increase access for students and teachers to pursue higher education, professional development, and participation in international learning experiences; and explore topics for joint proposals for grant funding.
Dr. Stephanie Mathis, deputy superintendent at Spartanburg County District One, said the move will create “a wide range of opportunities,” from enriching educational experiences to broadening the school culture and driving a pedagogical dialogue.
“Students, teachers, administrators, parents and communities all stand to benefit from international school partnerships,” Mathis said. “For instance, this partnership will illustrate the concept of global interconnectedness in a tangible way. When our students converse with other students on issues of common concern, it can deepen our students’ understanding of international issues and enhance their sense of active citizenship at local, national and international levels. Likewise, extending the outreach of an international school partnership allows new information and ways of thinking to permeate throughout the community.”
Dr. Alexander Akulli, director of the Center for International Studies at USC Upstate, who developed the partnership program, said he’s unaware of any other programs like it. “At this time, we are not aware of any other similar or formal partnerships between universities and K-12 schools specifically for supporting international education at the K-12 level.”