Janesville School District sets schedule for international summer institute

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Nick Crow
Thursday, May 1, 2014

JANESVILLE--The Janesville School District's International Education Institute is set for this summer, and officials hope the event gives students a better understanding of real world experiences.

"In their workplace as an adult, in a diverse environment, it's going to give them an advantage over others," said Jane Thompson, dean of students at the Academy for International Studies and coordinator for international programs. "This will give children in Janesville a wider perspective and hands-on experience to impact them beyond the borders of the classroom."

The yearly institute will "bridge the gap" between cultures and education by providing collaborative learning experiences, allowing students to interact, Thompson said.

The district expects about 50 international elementary students, 30 international middle school students and between 40 and 50 international high school students to attend the institute, with around the same number of local students attending, she said.

They will have a better indication of how many students will attend by June 10, she said.

"I want to make sure they get experience with different cultures and an understanding of how other cultures relate to them," Thompson said.

The sessions will be July 28 through Aug. 8 at Craig High School and Kennedy Elementary and are open to grades 4-12, she said. They will be Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

A district handout lists features of the institute as:

-- Weekly field trips.

-- Robotics.

-- Sports and recreation.

-- Science and technology exploration.

-- Course work on iPads and personal computers.

-- Engaging and creative learning opportunities.

-- Arts and music integration.

-- Cross-cultural team-building activities.

-- World language development.

-- Discovering how international friendships bridge cultural understanding.

-- High school students receive .5 elective credit for participation.

"At the end, high school students will receive a global education certificate they can use when applying for college," Thompson said. "Students who participate have this experience as an advantage, and they get a half credit. Just that alone is a powerful piece. Universities are looking for unique things that kids have done."

Students will also be invited to a lead-in to the institute, which is the Bridges-Global Educational Community Conference Festival Celebration from July 23-27 in Janesville.

The district has been connecting with other classrooms globally as a part of the Bridges conferences since January.

The festival will be a culmination of projects developed out of the cross-cultural collaboration by students, teachers, parents and community members with counterparts in China, Finland, Singapore and other countries, according to the district's website.

Some examples of the Bridges concept incorporated into Janesville schools include arts integration at Kennedy Elementary; generational bridges at Edison Middle School; art, talent and music at Harrison Elementary; a bridges around the world exhibit at Adams Elementary, and an exchange teacher at Washington Elementary and exchange student at Craig High School.

"Some of the Bridge activities will be highlighted at the institute as success stories," Thompson said. "Those themes are prevalent throughout the two-week institute. Teachers at the institute are using it as a unifying theme."

Attending the institute costs $100 per local student, which includes admission to the Bridges festival celebration, scheduled activity fees and curriculum, breakfast and lunches, field trip transportation and fees.

The cost for international students will be $5,000 and also includes airfare, travel and health insurance and the host family fee, Thompson said.

A family that chooses to host an international student can waive its own registration fee to the institute and receive a $235 hosting reimbursement.

"We're looking for families to experience this," Thompson said. "It's an opportunity that's life-changing. It's about us as Americans sharing our culture with people around the world."

Scholarships are available for local students who want to attend but may not be able to afford it, she said.

Thompson said students or parents interested in the program can apply at the student's home school or visit the district's website at www.jiep.info for more information.

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