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I recently had the pleasure of observing a STEAM program for Dwight Global Online School students at Dwight School in New York. I've followed Dwight, a leader in global education, for many years because the school is always innovating, so I was excited to see first-hand what was in store for students of Dwight's campus in the cloud.

Dwight Global extends Dwight's long legacy of "igniting the spark of genius in every child" and personalized learning without limitations, thanks to the latest technology. It combines real-time online video conferencing seminars, Oxford-style tutorials, and a college-style schedule to provide students in grades 7-12 with the intimacy of an independent school coupled with the freedom to pursue their passions ("sparks of genius"). Customizing the educational path for each student is the hallmark of a Dwight education on the ground and now in the cloud.

Dwight Global students, who live around the world, include competitive athletes, ballet dancers, working actors and actresses, and entrepreneurs, who are pursuing their dreams without sacrificing top-notch academics. They can attend classes from wherever they live or train, and have the flexibility needed to accommodate their busy competition and performance schedules. They can also participate in on-campus programs and attend classes at any Dwight School in its global network - in New York, London, Seoul, Shanghai, and Dubai - the choice is theirs. 

I met some of these talented students when they gathered on Dwight's Upper West Side campus for their annual STEAM Weekend, focusing on forensic science, design, and immigration this year. The program, I learned, is just one of several throughout the school year that bring online students together in the real world, distinguishing Dwight Global from other online programs. Some of the students I spoke with had chosen Dwight because it offered more in terms of academics, flexibility, and support than other schools. Through my own observations, I discovered that Dwight Global also offered more in terms of community. 

As students dove into the forensics portion of the weekend, I enjoyed following along. They were challenged with solving a fictional mystery, Sherlock-Holmes style, using the knowledge they had just gained in the classroom and lab. "We are learning to think critically and to use skills that involve both chemistry and psychology," reported one student, referring to conducting "witness" interviews and psychological analyses, examining fingerprints, and forensic testing of "evidence." 

This was an imaginative and creative way to learn and immediately apply new knowledge - and for students to connect with each other and their teachers. As the afternoon came to an end and I headed home, the students were getting ready to spend more time together over dinner and a Broadway show. I was ready to curl up with a classic Sherlock Holmes mystery! #

For more information, please visit www.dwight.global.


By Stephen Spahn, Chancellor of Dwight School

I recently had the opportunity to stand center stage in the iconic Stern Auditorium where Tchaikovsky raised his baton to conduct Carnegie Hall's inaugural concert in 1891. The occasion was Dwight Schools' 2018 global concert, bringing together 340 performers from around the world.

While Dwight students have performed in Carnegie Hall for nearly two decades, this was the first time they took to the grand Perelman Stage. The majestic 2,800-seat venue hosted the largest sold-out audience of parents, faculty, staff, and alumni in Dwight's 146-year history. It was a magical event that brought our global community together, which as Chancellor celebrating my 50th year in education, was especially gratifying.

Spark of genius is an interest or passion that is unique to every student -- whatever captures the heart, head, or hand. It is our job as educators to work individually with students to tap into what excites them, opening the door to all other learning. I have dedicated my career to igniting that spark in every student and to utilizing those talents and interests to create a personalized roadmap to a meaningful future for each one. It remains my calling and mission to this day.  

I have also dedicated myself and Dwight, as a frontier IB school, to bridging boundaries and preparing students to be global leaders who can make our world a better place. That is why the cross-campus collaboration and months of extensive preparation for the concert are equally as meaningful to me as the evening itself. It takes a global village.

Last fall, students on every campus auditioned locally and our team of music directors shared audition tapes to select soloists, duettists, and ensembles for an evening's program that ran the gamut from classical, jazz, and pop to traditional Korean and Chinese music, showcasing the unique cultural contributions from each Dwight campus. After several months of preparation at their home schools, all the performers come together in New York for an intensive week-long rehearsal period during which they fine-tuned and blended their individual pieces into one glorious tapestry.

During this immersive experience, students connected with their peers from different continents, embraced each other's cultural traditions, and forged friendships that will last a lifetime, underscoring the benefits of being part of a global family of schools.

When the performers walked into Stern Auditorium on their big night, it brought back a flood of memories -- countless moments when I have been in awe of the talent, gifts, and unique sparks of genius of countless Dwight students over the years. Ultimately, my greatest legacy will be all the students who become heroes of their own journey. My story will be the collection of all of their stories -- my symphony will be the collection of all of their symphonies. #

By Dr. Blake Spahn, Vice Chancellor of Dwight School

DwightSchoolViceChancellorBlakeSpahn.jpgThe philosophical underpinnings of the International Baccalaureate trace back to Kurt Hahn, a British educator of German origin who worked for a negotiated peace after World War I. He believed that implementing an international curriculum around the world could abolish national and racial prejudices, thereby wiping out the main cause of war. His thinking influenced Alec Peterson, Director of the University of Oxford's Department of Educational Studies, who aimed to broaden the British A level curriculum, enabling children to develop to their fullest potential. His work to reform the A levels ultimately took shape in the late 1960s as the universal IB curriculum, independent of any government and national biases and systems.

I took an initial interest in the IB when my own high school, Dwight School, adopted the curriculum. I saw first-hand how the IB impacted our school and its culture, and was struck by the transformation in such a short period of time. I later delved deeper while pursuing my DPhil in comparative international education at Oxford. My doctoral thesis focused on the development of the IB in the U.S., through the lens of four case-study schools. My goal was to answer the following questions through extensive research:

  • Why would an American school adopt the IB? The primary reasons were the curriculum's high academic standards across a wide array of integrated subjects and a school's desire to raise its academic standards. Additionally, the IB enhanced the school's ability to attract foreign students and to increase diversity within its community.
  • How is the IB implemented in a U.S. school? It was clear that prior to implementation, a school must understand its own core values to ensure compatibility and that successful implementation relied on the leadership of a senior faculty member, such as an IB coordinator or principal, to help smooth the way. Implementation also required that the school gain consensus among senior faculty by making them part of the decision-making process. Once on board, everyone needed to steer clear of creating a division between IB and non-IB students. 
  • What is the effect of the IB on the institution? The predominant impact was improved academic standards and increased pride in the school both for its enhanced reputation and for being part of a larger global group.

I published these research findings in greater detail in America and the International Baccalaureate: Implementing the International Baccalaureate in the United States in 2001. Since that time, the IB has grown exponentially nationwide for many of the same reasons and with even more enthusiasm in today's globalized world ─ an ever-evolving world in which employers seek internationally minded, multi-lingual, culturally sensitive and agile employees. The IB provides the best academic preparation available anywhere for graduates to enter this global marketplace equipped with the requisite skills and knowledge to succeed ─ and, in the spirit of Kurt Hahn, to build a better world through intercultural understanding and respect.  

Dr. Blake Spahn is Vice Chancellor of Dwight School, the first school in the Americas to offer all four IB programs for students from preschool through grade 12. Founded in 1872, Dwight School is dedicated to igniting the spark of genius in every child.

A History Lesson

By Dr. Stephen Spahn,
Chancellor of Dwight School

As seniors graduate and educators take stock of another academic year, I am inclined to take a longer look in the rearview mirror -- well beyond the last few semesters to the beginning of my career in education for a perspective on how far we have all traveled and a primer on what has stood the test of time.

When I became a young headmaster in the 1960s, it was a particularly tumultuous time -- a counterculture decade marked by activism and the Vietnam War. Students reflected this era fully; they were front and center in anti-war and civil rights movements and also the ones who were drafted. Against this backdrop, I dove head first into my work and learned a fundamental lesson that has shaped my educational philosophy ever since: When you help a young person discover his/her passion or talent and nurture that uniquely personal interest or set of skills, you unlock the door to all other learning. Oftentimes during the 60s, what drove students was a call to move away from the conformity that characterized the 1950s. As we encouraged students to find their own passions, we saw how they were transformed into great learners and leaders.

During the 1970s and 80s, as the global economy continued to grow and markets became more interdependent, education had to adapt to the new order. The International Baccalaureate answered the call. The IB, which was born in 1968, began to grow and take hold, offering a vigorous academic curriculum designed to cross -- and transcend -- national boundaries. IB schools envisioned a world in which students everywhere were equipped with the communication and critical thinking skills needed to bridge cultures and countries to collaborate and solve problems on a global scale. The IB has since expanded to meet this objective and today includes 4,335 public, private, and parochial schools worldwide.

The Digital Age rapidly accelerated the need for educators to prepare students to be global citizens and succeed in the competitive global marketplace, reinforcing the benefits of an IB education. Technology also transformed our markets: The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that while merchandise trade added approximately $2.7 trillion to the global economy in 2014, international data flow added $2.8 trillion that same year.

What does this mean for educators? We have to equip students with the ability to gather, assess, and interpret big data across disciplines -- skills that we could never have envisioned 50 years ago. Yesterday's art studios, science labs, and classrooms have been digitized. Today's learning spaces must continue to evolve into collaborative information-sharing hubs.

As educational infrastructures and facilities keep pace with new media and we build ever-higher-tech schools of the future, we must remind ourselves of the second fundamental lesson that I learned at the beginning of my career: There is simply no substitute for great teachers. Excellent, caring teachers who put the student first are the bedrock of an excellent education.#

Chancellor Stephen Spahn is the longest-serving head of school in New York City. Dwight School is a founding International Baccalaureate Prek-12 school in the United States and the first to offer the comprehensive IB curriculum in the Americas. Visit the Dwight School at https://www.dwight.edu/.

The Dwight Schools brought together 220 students from around the world to perform in a global concert on February 6th at a sold-out Carnegie Hall. This concert, an annual Dwight tradition, exemplifies the school's work since 1972 to bridge boundaries, break ground in international education, and prepare students to thrive in today's globalized world.

With campuses in New York, London, Seoul, Shanghai, and on Vancouver Island, The Dwight Schools are leading International Baccalaureate (IB) World Schools providing students with invaluable opportunities to participate in cross-campus cultural and curricular collaborations, and exchange programs. Dwight offers these same opportunities to students around the world who take courses online or in a blended learning environment through Dwight's Open World School, including students in the ICL Academy for Film and Performing Arts in Los Angeles, who joined their peers to perform at Carnegie Hall.

"No matter where in the world a Dwight student lives, we personalize the educational journey for each one based on individual passions, which we call 'igniting the spark of genius in every child.' We are equally committed to preparing students to be global leaders who can solve global challenges in innovative ways," said Stephen Spahn, Chancellor of The Dwight Schools, the longest-serving head of school in New York City.

"This year, our concert entitled 'Music for Dance' brought the Dwight cross-campus collaborative process to life in every way," reported Music Director Alistair Hamilton. "It included music and dance orchestrated, choreographed, and composed by faculty and students from around the world. Students auditioned virtually, and music directors shared ideas and cultural traditions the same way, before meeting in New York to rehearse and perform as one family. This process illustrates the benefits of being part of an active global network of schools that values the arts and provides students with unprecedented opportunities, such as performing together at Carnegie Hall."

Two New York students who demonstrated their musical spark of genius at Carnegie Hall are:

• Elli Choi '20, who began violin studies at age three and only a year later was invited to the Suzuki Method World Convention. A soloist at age five, and student in the Pre-College Division of The Julliard School by age seven, she is a seasoned performer with world-renowned youth and professional orchestras; and winner of numerous honors, including first prize in the Senior Division of the 2015 Lipinski and Wieniawski International Competition for Young Violinists in Poland; the Grand Prize at the 11th Young Virtuoso competition in Sofia, Bulgaria in 2015; and is invited to the Menuhin Competition 2016 in London. Ms. Choi, who performed Bach's Violin Concerto No. 2 in E Major, said, "I am very honored and excited to have participated in an event at one of the most famous venues in the world with my peers and new friends from Dwight campuses all over the world."

• Zachary Fobert '16, who began playing the piano at age four, performed two jazz ensemble pieces. A student in the Dwight Music Conservatory, Zachary's interests span music technology and composition, classical piano, and rock. "Last year, I was privileged to fulfill a childhood dream previously thought unattainable of performing in Carnegie Hall. It was a powerful experience of camaraderie with my fellow performers and a phenomenal learning experience. This year, I wanted to further improve my ability to work with others by playing challenging pieces alongside another student on the same piano and presenting an entertaining performance."

More about Dwight School

Founded in 1872, Dwight is a leading international school located on Manhattan's Upper West Side. It is the first school in the Americas to offer all four IB programs for students from preschool through grade 12. A Dwight world-class education rests on three pillars: personalized learning, community, and global vision. Graduates attend such leading colleges and universities worldwide as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, MIT, Stanford, NYU, Brown, Columbia, Oxford, and the University of Edinburgh.

Watch the video below of Dwight global students preparing for Carnegie Hall.

Transcending Educational Labels

StephenSpahnDwight.jpgBy Stephen Spahn, Chancellor of Dwight School

Today, education requires a broad vision of what it means to be a "well-educated person." We must move beyond labels and soundbites and transcend terminology such as progressive, inquiry based, competency based, transdisciplinary, real-world, liberal arts, and career education.

The International Baccalaureate embraces all of these pedagogical shibboleths. It was created to transcend barriers, boundaries, and labels. The IB vision is to prepare students to thrive and prosper anywhere in the world and to participate in solving local, national, and global challenges in innovative ways.

It is our obligation to provide students with vigorous academic preparation paired with character development, communication, critical thinking, civic engagement, and leadership skills ― and opportunities to apply them within and outside of the classroom. This requires going on an open-minded and open-hearted journey that begins with the individual talents and passions that a student brings to each class. If one label or soundbite is to be applied, it would be "to ignite and nurture the spark of genius in every child."

Chancellor Stephen Spahn is the longest-serving head of school in New York City. Dwight School is a founding International Baccalaureate Prek-12 school in the United States and the first to offer the comprehensive IB curriculum in the Americas.

Dwight Inaugurates Edcamp

Dwight School's campus was bustling with activity recently, when the school hosted the first-ever Edcamp dedicated to the International Baccalaureate. Bringing teachers together to talk about what matters most to them ― teaching ― the event drew nearly 100 participants. 

Edcamp is a form of unconference. Unlike traditional conferences, which have pre-set speakers, Edcamp unconferences are driven by attendees, who create the agenda at the start of the event, and anyone can be a presenter. They're free and built on principles of participatory learning. With no formal planning aside from logistics, several Dwight faculty members, alongside attendees from other IB schools, led lively discussions about teaching and learning across the full IB continuum.

Sessions ranged from practical classroom application ("Scaffolding through Thinking Maps," "Interactive Fictions across Disciples," and "Diploma Program Film ― Why?"); and the theoretical ("Chinese Identity through Culture" and "Creative Ways of Using Technology in the Primary Years Program"); to the administrative ("IB Administrators Discussion" and "Assessment in the IB"). In addition, there were hands-on sessions about 3D printing.

"Participants were excited and eager to share in a format that put them in charge of their own learning. Being able to suggest session topics and freely move among sessions are the hallmarks of any Edcamp event," reports Basil Kolani, Head of Technology and Innovation at Dwight, and one of the lead organizers of Edcamp IB. "I'm pleased that hosting the event at Dwight provided other educators with a peek into all the exciting and great things happening every day on our campus, while giving our faculty a chance to learn alongside other IB teachers dedicated to improving their craft."

Dianne Drew, Head of School, was delighted that Dwight hosted the first Edcamp IB and that so many teachers from grades 1-12 were drawn to see how new methodologies, technology, up-skilling, inquiry, and collaboration can be utilized to motivate students in the classroom setting. She reports, "Edcamp IB was a great day to share IB practice and curriculum innovation with IB practitioners and other educators, who have heard so much positive discussion about this thriving, global curriculum. The event was both a great showcase for the outstanding work and IB expertise of Dwight faculty and an opportunity for Dwight faculty to learn together with others in the spirit of the IB Learner Profile, exemplifying what it means to be knowledgeable, open-minded, caring, reflective, principled, balanced, thinkers, inquirers, communicators, and risk-takers."

As the first school in the Americas to offer all four IB programs (the Primary Years Program, Middle Years Program, Diploma Program, and Career-related Program), Dwight was pleased to welcome Paul Campbell, Head of Regional Development for IB of the Americas, to Edcamp IB. Ms. Drew shares, "Dwight's foray into the Edcamp model is just another example of our School's dedication to innovation and the desire to collaborate with like-minded educators in order to spark the passion of learning for both students and teachers alike."

Dwight School is a founding International Baccalaureate Prek-12 school in the United States and the first to offer the comprehensive IB curriculum in the Americas.

The Dwight Schools, a global network of independent International Baccalaureate (IB) World Schools spanning three continents, in partnership with Shanghai Qibao High School, announce the fall 2014 opening of the Shanghai Qibao Dwight High School, the first, independent, Chinese-American collaborative high school in China. Approved by the Shanghai Municipal Education Commission, Shanghai Qibao Dwight High School will be the first Sino-foreign cooperatively run high school in Shanghai officially approved by the Ministry of Education of China.

The new Shanghai Qibao Dwight High School, located in the Minhang district, is a three-year, full-time bilingual boarding school for students in grades 10-12. An IB World School candidate, Shanghai Qibao Dwight High School will introduce a new model of education in China, integrating an international perspective with courses from Chinese compulsory education, including Chinese language, history, math, geography, and politics. Students will have the option to participate in the Shanghai academic proficiency exams; and graduates will be eligible to receive a Dwight School diploma, a Shanghai Qibao High School joint diploma, and an IB diploma (pending authorization), enabling them to apply to top-tier universities anywhere in the world.

"We are delighted that Dwight was selected to partner with the esteemed Qibao High School, a highly respected leader in Shanghai with a network of 12 schools," said Stephen Spahn, Chancellor of The Dwight Schools. "Dwight is committed to educating the next generation of global leaders and to forging innovative collaborative relationships with those who want to bring shared value to students through education. We look forward to working closely and creatively with Qibao's expert administration and faculty to design a model school that offers the best of Chinese and IB thinking, preparing graduates for success in higher education and the global marketplace."

"We highly appreciate Dwight's educational concept of 'igniting the spark of genius in every child'," said Qiu Zhonghai, the Principal of Qibao Middle School. "It is our deep wish to create a superb international school fusing the essence of Chinese and Western education, to bring new sparks of wisdom for the development of China-U.S. education, and to prepare students who choose the school for a wonderful life. The formal establishment of Shanghai Qibao Dwight High School is not only a landmark event for New York and Shanghai to deepen international cooperation, but also a landmark in deepening the reform of basic education in Shanghai."

The Dwight Schools are among the world's finest IB educators with campuses in New York, London, Seoul, and on Vancouver Island. Dwight was selected as a partner by the Shanghai Education Committee for its 141-year track record of success in delivering a personalized, world-class education and for excellence in teaching the academically vigorous IB curriculum, recognized as the "gold standard" worldwide. Dwight was the first school in the U.S. to offer the comprehensive IB curriculum (Primary Years, Middle Years, and Diploma Programs) for students from preschool through grade 12.

In the first year, Shanghai Qibao Dwight High School anticipates enrolling 100 students from Shanghai and 50 from other areas of China for its tenth-grade class. International students will also be encouraged to apply. In future, when the school is at full capacity, an estimated 1,000 students will fill all three grades. Highly qualified Chinese and international teachers are joining the faculty; and the school will be managed jointly by administrators from both Shanghai Qibao High School and Dwight School, ensuring that students benefit from the expertise of both partners.

Shanghai Qibao Dwight High School looks forward to building an enriching student exchange program as well as online collaborations with Dwight global campuses in New York, London, Seoul, and on Vancouver Island.

The Dwight Schools are dedicated to igniting the spark of genius in every child, and rest on three pillars: personalized learning, community, and global vision. With campuses in New York, London, Seoul, and on Vancouver Island, The Dwight Schools educate 2,000 students representing over 40 countries. Graduates attend such leading colleges and universities worldwide as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, MIT, Stanford, NYU, Oxford, and the University of Edinburgh. Dwight School, located on Manhattan's Upper West Side, and Dwight School London are IB Open World Schools, two of only six originally selected from 3,700 IB World Schools to pilot IB education online.#

Dwight School Wins a 2013 Blackboard Award

Dwight School, a 141-year-old independent International Baccalaureate (IB) World School located on Manhattan's Upper West Side, received a 2013 Blackboard Award for Schools recognizing excellence in education, with a special citation for community service and citizenship.

This week, Dwight Chancellor Stephen Spahn accepted the award at a ceremony attended by Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education Dennis Walcott and NYC Council Member and Manhattan Borough President-elect Gale Brewer.

"This is an honor for Dwight, made even more special because we're being recognized for community engagement.

Community is one of the three pillars of a Dwight education, alongside personalized learning and global vision. At Dwight, we're dedicated to creating thoughtful global citizens and the next generation of innovative global leaders, and we believe that leadership begins close to home. In this case, just across Central Park," said Chancellor Spahn.

Dwight was recognized for the innovative community partnership the School forged with the 1199 Housing Corporation, owner of the East River Landing cooperative in East Harlem. Located at First Avenue and 108th the coop was home to a recreational facility that lay dormant for 17 years because shareholders were unable to afford its upkeep.

Dwight School, in search of expanded athletic facilities, envisioned the possibilities for this untapped resource. Rather than raise millions of dollars through a capital campaign to build a sports facility, Dwight refurbished the 40,000-square-foot center to bridge community boundaries, bringing shared value to both Dwight students and the 6,500 coop residents who now use the Dwight School Athletic Center for free. With a 25-yard indoor pool, regulation-size high school gym, two roof-top tennis courts, a weight room and more, the facility, which opened in June, is quickly becoming a vibrant center for health, fitness, and youth leadership programs benefitting many thousands of New Yorkers.

"I am delighted that Dwight has re-opened the space for use by East Harlem community residents," said Chancellor Spahn, the longest-serving school leader in New York City. "I am equally delighted that we can provide our students with the facilities they need to excel in sports. In fact, our goal is to help students excel in whatever pursuit they choose, from athletics to the arts, and from technology to youth service leadership. We call this 'igniting the spark of genius in every child'."

Dwight School graduates attend leading colleges and universities around the world, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, MIT, Oxford.

Founded in 1872, Dwight (www.dwight.edu) was the first school in the US to offer the comprehensive International Baccalaureate curriculum for students from preschool through grade 12. It is the flagship campus of The Dwight Schools, a global network of programs and campuses in London, Seoul, Beijing, and on Vancouver Island. #


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