A video created by and starring the “international community” of Nora Elementary student won $5,000, one of four first-place prizes in a national contest sponsored by Big Lots.
Principal Suzanne Zybert, who obtained her master’s degree from Butler College of Education in 2000 through the Experiential Program for Preparing School Principals, is extremely proud.
In the video, students speak in several native languages, asking for support of school programs exploring global diversity and cultural competence. “We’re a diverse school community, with students speaking 27 languages from 27 countries,” Zybert said.
The school entered the video and an essay in the fourth annual Lots2Give contest, competing against 115 other schools. Submissions were posted on the Internet, and viewers could vote for their favorites. More than 230,000 votes were cast to determine the 35 prize winners, which included a $20,000 grand prize to a Michigan high school.
Zybert said her school would use its prize money to purchase reading materials and other learning tools that promote cultural competence from a truly “global” viewpoint.
Part of Indianapolis’s Metropolitan School District of Washington Township (MSDWT), Nora Elementary serves 720 students in kindergarten through Grade 5; many are learning English as a second language. That mix provides rich opportunities for all students to learn first-hand about other countries and cultures, Zybert said. “We’re on our way to become an International Baccalaureate school.”
The first district-wide program of its kind in Indiana, MSDWT’s International Baccalaureate Education initiative emphasizes celebrating the diversity of students’ backgrounds and experiences, interdisciplinary and inquiry-based learning, and flexibility in developing lessons to meet the needs of specific school and classroom populations.
Subject areas are integrated through six organizing themes that help students make connections between the subjects, Zybert said. “The themes are ‘Who we are, Where we are in space and time, How we express ourselves, How the world works, How we organize ourselves’ and’ How we share the planet.’ “
Zybert has been Nora’s principal for nine years, and was assistant principal for two years. She leads more than 65 faculty and staff members, including support and special needs staff.
Nora Elementary has long partnered with Butler College of Education, as a placement site for student teachers and in-classroom experiences for elementary education majors.