From hosting "Geography Days" at the elementary level, to allowing for Skype calls to middle-schoolers across the world, to placing international high school students in families' homes for the year, The Colorado Springs School understands the importance of integrating multi-disciplinary, global perspective throughout education.
Perhaps this is most obvious in CSS' 35-year-old Experience-Centered Seminar (ECS) program. Each March, all ninth- through 12th-graders take part in a 3½-week-long immersive, experiential project. Sam Johnson, director of ECS, says projects vary widely. "Some stay local to keep expenses down; others travel to different places around the Southwest region, and some are national where students travel to Washington D.C., New York or the Deep South."
However, says Johnson, the goal is to "get every student abroad who wants to go abroad."
International options include studying conservation ecology in Costa Rica, free trade in Chile, or global health in Cameroon. The ECS taught in Cameroon is unique because it incorporates CSS' sister school, Fongo Tongo High School. Last year, Twyla Surritte, a math teacher and Upper School dean of student support, co-led a trip to the small town of Fongo Tongo. She said that during their time there, students chose to examine global health, creating a version of the World Health Survey.
CSS students surveyed the entire village, with Fongo Tongo students helping not only translate from French to English, but also helping bridge the cultural divide between students and villagers.
Along with the international experience that students gain during their years at CSS, the Upper School population is about 15 percent international students. They come from all over the globe — from Brazil to China and everywhere between — and live with host families, most of whom are part of CSS. Surritte also highlights the benefits of having international kids within a classroom: "They bring an unique perspective." International students come from all different types of establishments and there are no hard, fast rules for who will be accepted. According to Surritte, CSS just seeks "great students and free thinkers."