By Carol Englander
Chair of the World Languages Department
Gann Academy is a phenomenal school, and I don’t say that lightly.
I’ve taught in public high schools, one community college, and worked as a bilingual consultant for the Massachusetts Department of Education. The academic experience here is truly exceptional. It’s fluid and dynamic, changing to meet the evolving needs of students, who always come first.
In the World Languages
Department, the Chinese program serves as an example. Four years ago we introduced a Chinese study group to address the country’s increasing presence on the world stage. There was strong interest in expanding the program, which has grown into a four-year elective. Students are learning Mandarin, and they’re motivated to learn more about all things Chinese—from calligraphy, to martial arts, to traveling to the country for cultural immersion. We’re also exploring potential relationships with sister schools in Hong Kong, as we’ve done in the Spanish program with schools in Mexico and Argentina.
I believe students learn organically through reaching out to others—in the local community and the greater global community. At Gann, we’re part of an informal network of Jewish learning institutions worldwide. We tap into that, creating relationships with sister schools, and from there we can reach beyond, exploring new cultures in broader terms. This prepares students to be active participants in an increasingly global society. And as it opens up their world, they learn more about themselves.
Gann is particularly successful at differentiated instruction—exploring multiple avenues of teaching and ascertaining how individual students learn best. In the World Languages Department, we never stop trying to improve our classroom techniques. We’re always asking: How can we do this better? How can we be better facilitators to give students the freedom to be more creative?
When students are given the leeway to express themselves in a medium with which they resonate, it allows them to truly own and become proficient in what they’re learning. I’ve seen my students, time and again, develop critical thinking skills by flexing their creative muscles. They’ve built model cities, written poems, made movies—their use of 21st century media is very imaginative. Authenticity of expression motivates students to take what they’ve learned to the next level, exploring beyond the curriculum; it raises their self awareness along with their awareness of classmates, the community, and the world.
I’m not only a member of the Gann faculty, I’m a proud parent of a 2004 graduate. Gann helped my daughter, Gabriella, reconnect to her Judaism, explore her love of English and music, and develop critical thinking skills that have served her well. The school prepared her for a rich college experience and the opportunity to follow her passions to a stimulating career, just as it is preparing so many others. Their futures are bright because their educational experience is second to none that I’ve experienced. And it just keeps getting better.
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