Sacred Heart educators present at the 2016 Global Forum on Girls' Education


The National Coalition for Girls’ Education hosted the 2016 Global Forum for Girls Education at the New York Marriot Marquis hotel. Nebai Hernandez ’16

Innovation and collaboration were the focal point of the 2016 Global Forum on Girls Education at the Marriott Marquis in New York City February 7 to February 9.

The National Coalition of Girls’ School organizes the Forum every year. This year’s forum was titled “Creating A World of Possibilities.” It brought together 950 educators and guests from 23 countries to share valuable knowledge about improving girls’ education.

Eight Convent of the Sacred Heart teachers represented the school by submitting proposals to this annual coalition. Five Upper school teachers presented together at a “breakout” session, a meeting where guests attended their topic of interest, February 8, to share ideas to reimagine girls education.

Upper School Academic Dean Mrs. Jennifer Bensen, Head Librarian and Director of the Media Center Ms. Elizabeth Fernandez, Upper School Science Teacher Ms. Mary Musolino, Upper School English Teacher and Director of the Sacred Heart Center for Research Teaching and Learning Mrs. Linda Vasu, and Director of Campus Ministry Upper School Community Service and Summer Enrichment Mrs. Lori Wilson showcased some of Sacred Heart’s programs to a diverse audience ranging from South African to Washington D.C. professionals in the field of education.

The National Coalition for Girls' Education hosted the 2016 Global Forum for Girls Education at the New York Marriot Marquis hotel. Nebai Hernandez '16
The National Coalition for Girls’ Education hosted the 2016 Global Forum for Girls Education at the New York Marriot Marquis hotel.
Nebai Hernandez ’16

Their presentation, titled “ReMix! Thinking Round the Box, Reimagining Resources in a Year-Round Learning Community” offered ways for other schools to implement holistic and global approaches to complement and drive forward girls’ education.

Mrs. Vasu, who pioneered the effort to participate in the forum, has been inciting participatory and open thinking amongst educators through Sacred Heart’s Center for Research, Teaching and Learning.

At the forum she spoke of this engaged and volunteer-driven exercise in thought and collaboration. She outlined the activities of this center and its commitment to creating a personal learning community.

Another signature Sacred Heart endeavor is the Science Research program. Ms. Musolino presented on the program that challenges groups of girls to work on a committed and long-term solution to global problems facing our world.

Mrs. Jennifer Bensen directly addressed the global focus of the forum by exploring the success of Sacred Heart’s Network Exchange Program.

“We talked about where we place exchange in the Upper School experience. Tenth grade is the logical year to be able to travel, host, and participate in a language immersion, ” Mrs. Bensen said. ” It’s a reciprocal program our community benefits from and helps us be more global.”

Mrs. Bensen also spoke about the Shadow Program, which links sophomores, juniors, and seniors with professionals and lets students experience a workday in the field of their interest. The shadow program was established three years ago and takes place during the summer.

“We encouraged people to reach out within their community and partner with like institutions so they can begin to expand,” Mrs. Bensen said.

Educational opportunities at Sacred Heart do not end with Prize Day and Commencement. Mrs. Wilson presented on “year-round” opportunities, specifically the Summer Enrichment programs which vary from writing workshops at Sacred Heart to service trips in South Dakota. These programs allow students to gain life skills and broaden their horizons outside of the school day.

Ms. Fernandez presented on the benefits of partnerships with other local schools. She used the case of Sacred Heart working together with Brunswick School to establish organized traffic control in the mornings to ensure the safety of students.

Three middle school teachers proposed individual topics which were also chosen for smaller round-table presentations and discussions at the forum called “Inspire” sessions.

Sacred Heart Middle School English Teacher Mr. Marc Maier led a group exploring digital platforms such as blogs as mediums for student driven teamwork. Mr. Maier titled his talk, “The Center Should Not Hold: Creating Collaborative Student-Centered Networks.” It was geared towards education where the teacher acts as a facilitator.

English Teacher Mrs. Jennifer Rathkopf led another ‘inspire” session titled “Beyond Beauty: Media Literacy and Illiteracy in the Representation of Girls and Women.” This talk focused on bringing awareness and change to the way girls perceive and are affected by unrealistic media portrayals of women. Science Teacher Ms. Joyce Reed shared details of an individualized and multi-faceted science research project that spans the school year and engages girls with STEM professionals in interviews, culminating in an informational video.

– Nebai Hernandez, Staff Writer

Correction: February 19, 2016

Due to a research error, an earlier version of this article omitted Ms. Joyce Reed’s participation in the forum.