Evanston Township High School

A student exercises public speaking skills. Photo courtesy: Evanston Township High School.

Evanston Township High School (ETHS), a suburban public school located outside Chicago, Illinois, has a student body of just under 3,100, approximately 50 percent of whom are white, 38 percent African American, seven percent Hispanic, and five percent other. In 1992, ETHS instituted a one-year international studies requirement for graduation. A team of teachers developed a series of interdisciplinary courses on the history, literature and art of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. Every student must enroll in least two semesters of study of other world regions. From the beginning, internationally oriented courses have developed in many departments. The school is particularly known for its simulation activities in which students play the role of, for example, a participant in the Berlin Conference of 1885, or the creator of NGO designed to address a contemporary world issue. Outside the classroom, students participate in extra-curricular clubs including Model United Nations, Islamic Culture Club, Tea Ceremony and Amnesty International.

ETHS offers world language courses in Japanese, Hebrew and Latin in addition to Spanish, French and German. Technology is used to connect language classes to native speakers and for online discussion with students in other countries, such Pakistand Zimbabwe. The quality of the progr stems from the school's commitment to professional development. The school have developed relationships with area studies centers three locuniversities and the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations to give teachers access to scholarship and expertise. ETHS is recognized a leading example of best practices in international education featuring teaching and learning teams for curriculum development and community outreach by students. In 2003, Evanston sponsored a Global Studies conference for schools in Illinois to share curriculum and teaching strategies.

Read on for interview with Paula Frohman, Department Chair, Media and Instructional Technology Services:

You were recently awarded a prize for excellence from Goldman Sachs Foundation and Asia Society. What impact has it made?
We offer seven global studies courses for students. As a result, providing resources and professional development for new teachers is essential. The $25,000 Prize has allowed us to provide materials and professional development opportunities for new teachers who would not have been able to travel to countries they teach about without these subsidies. These experiences have allowed us to keep up the quality of the teaching in our global studies courses.

Winning the prize brought the school national attention. A result of this national attention, students became very involved in bringing in speakers to discuss globissues. Additionally, the Christion Science Monitor did a great article about our program, which caught the eye of Rush Lumbaugh who attacked our program. Our students who responded about the need for global education received some very good press. It brought the discussion of the need for international education to the forefront. The national attention brought a great deal of credibility and status for our global studies program. We have been able to build relationships with local teachers and share our successes with schools thhave contacted us after finding out that we received the Prize. Through the Middle Ground Club, we were able to bring in speakers and performers to the school about hot topics such as Iraq War. Overall, budget cuts became more prevalent, we were able to support the global studies program and continue our rich curriculum and excellent teaching.

What advice do you have for others trying to engage K-12 students in learning about the world?
First, start where you can in your curriculum. Second, reach out to the universities and museums for resources, and third, reach out to other schools thhave successful programs for ideas on how to organize the class.