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Jessica Newman Brings Global Learning to the Classroom

Bucs Hero: Jessica Newman

Get to know a little more about our Bucs Heroes, a regular feature highlighting the many staff members across campus who make an impact for our school.

Country Day’s Office of International Studies is fortunate to have Jessica Newman as part of its team. Jessica has worked at Country Day for 18 years, the first nine years as a Middle School French teacher. While she spends some of her time working with teachers to bring global learning to the classroom, her primary role is coordinating learning experiences abroad.

That means everything from collaborating with teachers to shape their ideas into itineraries that connect back to the curriculum, coordinating trip logistics, prepping students and parents for what to expect, working quickly on the fly when unexpected and inevitable travel delays occur, and receiving our guests from sister schools. 

“The most important aspect of my job is student safety. That is ground zero for everything that we do.”

Learn more about the important work that Bucs Hero Jessica does behind the scenes to create global learning experiences for our students. This regular feature is designed to highlight the many staff members across campus making an impact on our school.

Are there any misperceptions about global learning? 

Sending students abroad is what everybody sees, but global learning is truly the focus of our office. Global learning can happen right here on campus, can happen in Charlotte, and can happen during a pandemic when nobody is going anywhere. It’s also important to understand that sixth grade is the youngest we travel with students. By sixth grade, students are basically halfway through their Country Day career, so we’re not waiting until they become sixth graders to introduce them to global competencies. It’s two pieces. My hope is that post-pandemic, our community will have a greater awareness that global studies doesn’t mean travel. That said, it's very exciting to be offering these opportunities again. 

What do students gain from taking part in global travel experiences?

The programs we offer are invaluable in terms of what students can learn and experience for their own intercultural competency in a very compact timeframe. We’re trying to raise and educate global citizens who not only understand the world they live in and their place in that world, but who also have the ability to respond appropriately to those who are either more similar or more different from themselves.  

What is your favorite travel experience abroad?

Well, they are all wonderful in their own way. And the offerings evolve and change from year to year. But I do call the sixth-grade exchange with our sister school in Quebec “my baby.” The exchange began well before I joined Country Day, but when I taught at the Middle School I was a trip leader and, in this role, I continue to be integrally involved. My children were very young when I began this role as coordinator, and then the pandemic happened, but soon I look forward to helping to lead some trips that I coordinate.

How do you help build community at Country Day? 

The most rewarding aspect of my job is that I’m laying the foundation so the kids can get out into the world and have their “A-ha” moments. I also really love working with the parents, who are bravely stepping back and letting their child have some independence and have this experience. That was a process pre-pandemic, but even more so now. I love helping the parents move along that road and I love the feedback I hear on the other end when they see for themselves. Over and over in this role, I hear things like “It was everything we hoped and more,” or “My child grew so much and made amazing connections to other people.”

I think my teaching experience has also been helpful in supporting faculty. I understand the stresses they face and the demands of their time. I certainly understand that sometimes aspirations don’t always match the reality of time. Our teachers are such pros, and I’m happy to be that funnel of information for them. In the past two years, I have supported the Lower School by teaching one French class, and that has been tremendous fun. 

What do you like to do in your free time?

These days I spend a lot of time on the soccer field with my boys Jack (3) and Thaddeus (K). Family time is really important to me and when I have the time, I like to cook.