You may not immediately recognize the name of this pleasant German town northwest of Frankfurt, but it is very familiar to our German learners as the location of the Feldbergschule, our partner school for the 10th-grade German exchange program. This past October, however, I had the chance to experience Oberursel in a completely different context: as part of a team of Cary Academy faculty and administrators attending a professional development event hosted by Frankfurt International School.
Despite what the name implies, Frankfurt International School (FIS) is not located directly in Frankfurt, but rather, outside the city in neighboring Oberursel. So, in a bit of a curious coincidence, Cary Academy has not just one, but two educational partnerships in the same small German community of 47,000 residents.
The relationship between Cary Academy and FIS is tied to the Collaborative for Innovative Education (CIE), a coalition of six forward-thinking schools around the world that also includes Singapore American School, the American International School of Johannesburg, Nueva School, and the American School of Bombay. The heads of these schools each agreed to send a team of teacher-leaders and an accompanying administrator to a series of six four-day collaborative forums to be held twice a year over the course of three years, with each school slated to host one of the forums on its campus. The October forum at FIS was the fifth in the series, and Cary Academy will be hosting the culminating forum at the end of March.
Head of Middle School Marti Jenkins and I had the privilege of accompanying academic department leaders Craig Lazarski, Heidi Maloy, Meredith Stewart, and Katie Taylor, along with ed tech leaders Leslie Williams and Betsy MacDonald, to the CIE event in Oberursel, where we all had the opportunity to see first-hand what FIS is doing to make learning more flexible and relevant for students.
(Fun fact: Mrs. Jenkins actually attended FIS in first grade!)
We also had the chance to collaborate with the other participating school teams to share ideas, practices, and resources related to personalized learning, as well as hear a presentation by George Couros, author of The Innovator’s Mindset and Innovate Inside the Box.
To get a better feel for the collaborative work of the CIE, check out the 5-minute video from the FIS event.
The CIE has evolved considerably since the initial forums in the Bay Area and Singapore and the second-year forums in Mumbai and Johannesburg. The Collaborative recently welcomed the International School of Zug and Lucerne (ISZL) as a seventh member school, a connection that led to the opportunity for a group of Cary Academy students to travel to Switzerland in January to participate in the 2020 Global Youth Summit hosted by ISZL. In another effort to involve students in the CIE, Cary Academy will be piloting a student forum in March that will run concurrently with the teacher forum on our campus. The CIE is also considering development of a teacher exchange program among member schools–an exciting idea for the future that we hope to flesh out during the upcoming event at CA.
The fall forum at FIS certainly proved to be a great way for Cary Academy colleagues outside of the German program to discover the half-timber charms of Oberursel, and so, too, we hope that the spring forum at Cary Academy will help us to put Cary on the map for our CIE partners as another wonderful place to live and learn.
As for me personally, I have the good fortune to be returning to Oberursel at the end of May, when our 10th-grade German students will visit their friends at the Feldbergschule. But that’s a topic for another day–and another blog!