Students and families in Sandy Howard’s 1st-grade class in the Campbell County School District studied their countries of origin and then created flags as part of the district's push toward global competency. Photo by Sandy Howard

Students and families in Sandy Howard’s 1st-grade class in the Campbell County School District studied their countries of origin and then created flags as part of the district’s push toward global competency.
Photo by Sandy Howard

By Melissa Turner and Nancy Burns

The Campbell County School District has created a district-wide professional learning community structure and comprehensive district improvement plan that fully integrates global competency in a natural way.

Through numerous book studies and professional learning opportunities involving stakeholders, the Campbell County Schools District has established a growth mindset in full support of global competency education. With this strong professional learning community structure at the foundation of the work, seamless implementation of global competency has taken the district’s motto of “Whatever It Takes” to a whole new level.

Further fostering the movement toward global competency, Campbell County was one of three Kentucky school districts to receive the Learn and Launch grant funding in the 2014-15 school year. At the onset of the initiative, the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) sponsored a high-quality professional learning experience attended by a core district “GC Team,” which learned about the grant objectives and the standards of true global competency. Kelly Clark, global competency lead for KDE, and the VIF International Education team provided our district with the structure on which we continue to build.

After receiving the Learn and Launch grant, our district began planning to embed global competency into our K-8 classrooms through the work of our core district team in the spring of 2015. The core district team consisted of two Teaching and Learning leaders at the elementary and secondary levels, who established the timeline to create building level leads as well as school level teams.  The target was to begin infusing global competency into the existing curriculum beginning in the fall of the 2015-16 school year for all K-8 teachers regardless of their content.

An application and principal input was used to select building level teacher leaders who would be expected to fuel their school’s understanding of global competency education. Once the building level leads were established, Campbell County’s Teaching and Learning leaders held professional learning opportunities on a regular basis to ensure teachers possessed the knowledge, skills and dispositions needed to understand global competency. Our professional learning included resources from VIF International Education, KDE and Children’s Inc.

The Teaching and Learning leads were fortunate to travel to VIF in Chapel Hill, N.C. During this visit, they received extensive training by Michelle Macumber and Kanista Zuniga, Campbell County’s lead contacts from VIF. This training also included field experiences in multiple dual language and globally competent schools, where they observed lessons and participated in a teacher panel discussion to discover how each school set up their initial programs.

The clear take away from this visit was to start small and build on what resources and standards based lessons teachers already use in the classroom. This helped with the buy-in of the staff. Our principals and staff continue to receive support in using the professional learning modules in the

Monthly meetings and summer sessions were set up for our building-level teams to continue the support needed in their leadership of this initiative. One component of our grant was to embed global competency into the service learning projects that already existed as a strong cultural attribute of our school system. Children’s Inc. trained our Teaching and Learning leads, instructional coaches and school teams on the integration of this service learning model. The school teams developed projects for each of their schools to implement. One project example dealt with water around the world. Students had to research water supplies and how the cleanliness of the supply affects their communities.

During some of the summer meetings, building level teams planned their kickoff event for each school that would deepen teacher understanding of why it is important to be globally competent and the professional learning modules each teacher had to complete. The targeted timeline was set by the Teaching and Learning district leaders to complete all four modules by April 2016.

District Teaching and Learning leaders also decided which grade levels would hone in on specific regions of the world. This lead to a summer learning project for our students, since they knew what country or region their upcoming grade level would be studying. Students were asked to research and bring any artifacts that they or someone they knew had from traveling to that area. This activity helped set the classroom culture with displays and student ownership of their learning to start the new school year.

During the summer of 2015, school level professional learning days and individual school kickoff events included music, food and activities from each of the different countries that our students would be studying. The building core team presented their accumulated knowledge of global competency, including ideas for service learning, to their staff and demonstrated how to use the modules to extend their professional learning. Once school began, the building level core team and instructional coaches have provided additional support in finding materials and monitoring teachers to ensure they are on track with their professional learning modules. Through employing the structure of the VIF modules, teachers are able to see how easy it is to start with their current lessons as a basis and to add global competencies for further enhancement.

As a result of embedding global competency lessons into existing curriculum, our classrooms and hall displays exhibit cultural diversity. Our students have an increased global perspective and now have an amplified awareness of the world beyond Campbell County, Ky. Exciting culminating events have been planned for the end of the 2015-16 school year to showcase this new appreciation of global learning and the idea that our world is not so small after all!


Melissa Turner is Teaching and Learning leader/curriculum and instruction and Nancy Burns is elementary instructional coach for the Campbell County School District.