• Leadership
Faith & Global Education
Stone Ridge
Dr. White and Dr. Downey-Vanover portrait.


Last spring, Dr. White and Dr. Downey-Vanover presented their expertise as Sacred Heart global educators with colleagues Melody Fox Ahmed from National Cathedral School and Jessica Campbell from Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart at the Global Education Benchmark Group’s (GEBG) Annual Conference. Guided by Ms. Fox, their presentation introduced how understanding dimensions of faith are essential to global citizenry and to becoming interfaith bridge builders, collectively working towards the common good. As a Catholic, Sacred Heart School, Dr. Downey-Vanover sees global education as essential to Stone Ridge’s identity and mission to bring the attributes of Christ’s heart into the world.

When asked, “Why global education?” Assistant Head of Upper School Dr. Jeanne Downey-Vanover says, “Global education develops an understanding, an appreciation of, and an openness to something outside your own world. It exposes students to the vast world beyond the classroom and challenges them to become aware of their responsibilities in an interconnected world.” At Stone Ridge, global education, explicitly reflected in the Goals and Criteria, is embedded throughout Sacred Heart education. Director of Social Action Dr. Katie White cites Goal III Criteria 2; “to immerse students in diverse global perspectives, developing competencies, such as critical consciousness, language facility, and cultural literacy,” as a powerful example. From studying history, mathematics, and world languages to environmental issues in science classes and moral and ethical decision-making in theology, “the different student programs at Stone Ridge speak to each other in such beautiful ways,” Dr. White says. “There are many singular threads that exist in the education of our students in the Upper School that can be woven into the unique tapestry that is global education,” says Dr. Downey-Vanover.

“Our goal of global education at Stone Ridge is to form students who are aware of their responsibilities in an interconnected world and who have developed the knowledge, skills, and disposition appropriate for interaction for a lifetime.”

For Stone Ridge faculty and students, global education extends beyond academics. Students have multiple ways to engage with the world through Social Action, DEI programming, student activity groups, and travel. The Sacred Heart Network Exchange, at the national and international levels, and Network Summer Service projects offer profound learning experiences on topics like Juvenile Justice, Indigenous Environmental Justice, and Hunger, which communities face around the world.

What does global education look like in the classroom? Using the Goals and Criteria as their guide, different departments engage with this question to evaluate what it means to educate global citizens. Their efforts have led to various outcomes like the diversification of texts and authors in Women’s Literature and AP Spanish Literature courses, which have expanded from mainly white American or European perspectives on culture to include more diverse perspectives and experiences from the Anglophone and Spanish-speaking communities around the world.  

When considering texts throughout the curriculum and various courses, faculty use the notion of windows and mirrors, stories that provide students insights into others’ lives, and stories that enable students to see themselves in new ways as they build their identity. When considering the students’ personalities, interests, and what kindles their curiosities, the windows and mirrors approach to texts can provide more empowering experiences for students. As a result, students are more apt to empathize with other perspectives and seek ways to build knowledge and understanding when faced with challenges. This work also reflects Commitment 3 of Stone Ridge’s commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the classroom, ensuring that areas of study reflect the lived experiences of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and foster a realization that as a Sacred Heart school we are called to build a community in which the human dignity of each person is sacred.

As the content in classes is reimagined, courses are renamed to be more representative of the subject matter, such as shifting British Literature to Global Perspectives in English Literature. Principles of global education are echoed throughout programs like the Social Action program, framed by the essential question: how is my well-being bound up in yours? A question that is woven throughout a student’s education at Stone Ridge implores them to consider “our interconnectedness, how we are accountable to, and rely on each other,” says Dr. White. This essential question “is directly connected to the Sacred Heart Goals and Criteria and our understanding of what it means to be Sacred Heart educators who are inherently global educators,” says Dr. Downey-Vanover.