Teachers share their world at global education conference

Radford University’s College of Education and Human Development hosted the Global Education Conference 2016 on Aug. 13.

Lucine Jhangiryan is a treasured faculty member at her school in Achinsk, Russia.

She grew up and lived in Armenia and moved to Russia four years ago to teach English. Her ability to speak Armenian, Russian and English is one of the many reasons she is a valued part of the school and the community.

Another is her desire to connect her students to other students around the world.

Jhangiryan teaches school children in grades five through 11 at Secondary School No. 18 in Achinsk. She and her classes participate in numerous global projects online, including the Landmark Games organized by Radford University School of Teacher Education and Leadership (STEL) Assistant Professor Terry Smith.

Smith, along with STEL faculty members Patti Talbot and Glenna Gustafson, organized this year’s RU World Ready? Global Education Conference at Radford University. The one-day event featured presenters, such as Jhangiryan and other K-12 educators, who are successfully integrating global studies into their classroom curriculums.

“We want school children reading, writing and thinking about the world,” Smith said.

Regional classroom teachers and Radford faculty attended the conference, as did many Radford University teacher education students.

Smith invited Jhangiryan to the conference to share her many experiences with global projects.

“We are always trying to find great role models for our brand-new teachers, and Lucine is one of them,” Smith said. “We want our student teachers to see that many world project teachers are out there, and these are teachers that our students can collaborate with through global education projects.”

The conference included 20 sessions with presenters from California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Virginia and Washington, D.C. A couple of others presented via teleconferencing from California and Oregon.

There were representatives from the Virginia Department of Education, Population.org, UNC Worldview, McGlothlin Celebration of Teaching, Virginia Geographic Alliance and the Blacksburg Korean Language School.

Students and teachers who have traveled to Africa in Radford University’s Malawi study abroad program held a panel discussion. STEL Associate Professor Ann Roberts led the discussion that also included Malawi travelers participating through video.

In addition, participants had a chance to begin the process of earning National Geographic Educator Certification. Jhangiryan started the process and will be the first teacher in Russia to receive the certification.

“Overall, through the conference, we were hoping to have an impact locally on our Radford University students as well as on teachers in area schools,” Smith said. “I think teachers are realizing that their lesson plans can become more effective thanks to global projects.”

The conference made an impact on Radford High School teacher Tina Tapp ’94, who said she “left the conference with renewed enthusiasm to try to think more globally in my classroom.”

And it was timely.

When Tapp returned to her school for the new academic year, she received an email about an opportunity for a reading- and book-sharing project in Croatia. “Because I was already so excited about what I learned in the conference, I have moved forward with beginning this project,” said Tapp, a McGlothlin Awards for Teaching Excellence winner in 2015.

While in Radford, Jhangiryan had a chance to visit second-grade students at Christiansburg Primary School where she shared her story about her life in Russia. She also received notes and drawings from the school children, and she planned to take the items back to Achinsk to share with her students.

So much of what her students see from other students around the world is delivered to them electronically. These things, she said with a smile, are items “they can touch and feel and smell and even cuddle.”

Aug 30, 2016
Chad Osborne