The Sacred Heart Goals and Criteria as a Lens for Learning about Global Issues
Jenny McGovern, Sixth Grade Dean

By Jenny McGovern, Sixth Grade Dean

The Goals and Criteria of a Sacred Heart education are central to who we are and what we do here at Forest Ridge. Though they influence what we teach, why we serve, and how we interact with each other, they are especially obvious in the middle school on two very special days each fall: Global Days.

This fall marks the 16th year that the middle school has celebrated Global Days. Though it has looked different over time, Global Days has consistently provided students a time to engage deeply with global issues outside of their regular classes. In its earliest days, Global Days provided a taste of a variety of world cultures by bringing in dozens of speakers, including parents, Peace Corps volunteers and alumnae. Goal II of Sacred Heart education, “a deep respect for intellectual values” and Goal IV, “building community as a Christian value”, were at the forefront of these early Global Days.

As the experience evolved we began to think about incorporating more of the Goals, like the call to service of Goal III, “a social awareness which impels to action”, the faith aspect of Goal I, “a personal and active faith in God”, and the leadership opportunities present in Goal V, “personal growth in an atmosphere of wise freedom.” All five goals are evident in our current Global Days program.

Two days before Thanksgiving, middle school students are divided into mixed-grade “family groups” led by eighth-grade Global Guides. Families travel together through a series of activities, including keynote speakers, simulations, teamwork challenges, art and service projects, and workshops. Leadership opportunities are available to seventh and eighth graders who may plan a prayer service, organize a service project, lead family groups, and capture the learning of the two days in a variety of media. Campus adults coach student leaders and implement workshops, simulations and challenges.

Guests have provided keynote speeches, panel discussions, emergency preparedness training and writing workshops. Past guests have included: Lieutenant Governor Cyrus Habib, poet and community organizer Troy Osaki, race educator and artist Daemond Arrindell, author and explorer Helen Thayer, humanitarian Greg Bennick and others. Past topics have included homelessness and immigration, climate change, sustainable food systems, homes, access to clean water, and identity and belonging. My favorite student comment about Global Days compared it to an “academic congé!”

On this year’s Global Days, November 25 and 26, middle schoolers will focus on our response to climate change, including advocacy and innovation, and care for creation. Eighth and ninth grade students suggested this summer that we explore our changing oceans and the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, and teen activist Greta Thunberg has further inspired our plans. We look forward to this opportunity to learn about our changing world and how we, as Sacred Heart women, can respond.

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