Dr. Natasha Naujoks, who serves as associate director of the Batten Leadership Program, recently participated in two virtual panel discussions about global and experiential education during the pandemic.
One panel was held by the Global Education Benchmark Group, a non-profit organization of K-12 schools that researches and establishes best practices in the field of global education.
The second webinar was organized by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), a nonprofit membership association that provides services to more than 1,900 schools and associations of schools in the United States and abroad. It was done in conjunction with Independent Schools Experiential Education Network (ISEEN). Dr. Naujoks was one of three panelists, which also included the director of global programming from the Blake School in Minnesota and the director of ISEEN.
In her presentation, Dr. Naujoks discussed Norfolk Academy's approach to experiential learning through the Batten Leadership Program, which encompasses the Fellows programs, the Medical Scholars Program, and Leadership Lab.
She also spoke about how the approach developed in the Batten Leadership Program has influenced the development of Maymester in the Upper School, which will launch this spring, after a postponement due to the pandemic. During Maymester, all rising sophomores and juniors will have two and a half weeks focused on a specific, interdisciplinary topic; each course includes hands-on experiences outside the classroom as a way of bringing depth and excitement to the learning.
“These are very intentionally tied to the United Nation's Sustainable Development goals," she noted. “Everybody will learn in different ways than they learn traditionally in the classroom."
Dr. Naujoks also shared her perspective on the power of global education to galvanize student growth and raise awareness of social justice and equity issues. “For me, the best global education experiences push students safely out of their comfort zones by exposing them to different perspectives," she said.