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Susan O'Rourke | February 16, 2023

World View is everything. I love being exposed to and learning from such a wide variety of speakers, presenters, and disciplines. The old adage, “You don’t know what you don’t know,” hits home when attending a World View program. I’ve been introduced to film sources, listened to diplomats, educators, and more. Every session/program is engaging and makes me excited about what I do as a teacher.

This February, UNC World View has the pleasure of featuring Jennifer Nichols in our Global Educator Spotlight. Jennifer Nichols is a Spanish teacher at Cox Mill High School in Concord, NC where she teaches Spanish II (which includes students in the 9th-12th grades). Jennifer taught many levels of English and Spanish during her first few years at CMHS and prior to working at Cox Mill, she taught English, Spanish, and English as a Second Language.

For Jennifer, global perspectives are at the core of her pedagogy for four key reasons. She explains:

  • As an English and Spanish teacher, culture, history, the WHY behind everything I teach has always driven me. It is exciting and motivating to help instill a sense of curiosity in my students, to help them make connections between our lessons and the real-world, and to help make them more well-rounded and impactful global citizens.
  • Making connections between students’ own lives and the Spanish-speaking world and learning about different perspectives helps my students develop critical thinking skills.
  • Globally focused teaching is essential in answering a common student question of ‘when am I ever going to use this?’ My ultimate goal as an educator is to encourage my students to be active participants in their learning journey, teaching them to know how to think, not what to think, and to question, to create, to grow and to find value in their education.
  • Also, global ed is fun! Exploring commonalities, building bridges, appreciating differences, learning from others and growing through globally-focused teaching is what creates awareness and respect for others, as well as a greater understanding of ourselves.

We are so glad that Jennifer has been a committed UNC World View educator who brings fresh perspectives to our programs! Jennifer first attended a UNC World View Seminar in 2017 (Latin America and North Carolina) and completed several World View to You! Remote Learning Modules during the pandemic. She continues to attend virtual and in-person programs, like the 2022 Global Education Symposium held in Chapel Hill.

Jennifer has been a generous collaborator within the UNC World View Community. In 2019, she “co-present[ed] an Art & Global Ed PD session for the Global Education Summit for Cabarrus County” and, this year she is serving as a 2022-2023 World View Fellow!” This cohort of global educators committed to creating lessons on the Sustainable Development Goals” has “[challenged Jennifer] to explore within and beyond [her] own content area and to make surprising relationships with the world as a whole.” She shares that she is “discovering more and more diversity and more and more connections between my classroom curriculum and the world at large and I am enjoying the opportunity to hone my craft, being able to collaborate and learn from so many like-minded educators.”

Jennifer encourages other educators looking to globalize their classroom and build a community of global educators to go for it! She recommends:

  • Participate with UNC World View! Online, in-person, self-paced modules – there is something for everyone and UNC World View represents all content areas!
  • Also, talk to your peers! I’ve had random conversations in the hallway only to discover peers in another department are working on material that I am also using in my class, like the SDGs.
  • Reach out and see if peers want to collaborate across curriculum with content that you’re already covering, to amplify what you both already do without having to reinvent the wheel. Art and Spanish. Spanish and History. History and English. Drafting and Math. Spanish and Science. The possibilities are endless!
  • If you teach elementary or middle school, see if you can collaborate with a high school nearby. Whether a quick conversation at the copy machine or a deliberate meet to plan – talk with your colleagues, you never know who you might find has the same goals as you.
  • If do not currently have a global community, create it. Begin with conversations, explore options you might not necessarily think of like NCMA and local museums and take part in webinars.
  • UNC World View offers all of this and more as well. Connections are key. Start small, work with what you have, explore what you don’t know. World View can help with that too!

Jennifer puts her advice into practice as a leader, mentor, and strong supporter of global education. At CMHS Jennifer has been the World Language Professional Learning Community Facilitator and Spanish II PLC lead for the last ten years. For several years Jennifer has also been a leader as the “Professional Development Committee Chair” responsible for researching and implementing PD offerings for staff. Jennifer’s mentorship further reflects her commitment to collaborating with fellow educators and supporting her students. Jennifer has served as a Charger Connect mentor, meeting with at-risk freshmen; as a New Teacher Buddy; and as a New/Beginning Teacher mentor. She will continue to collaborate with her colleagues this spring when she will co-lead a teacher idea exchange PD session and facilitate discussion between different departments, providing the time and space to share ideas and best practices and [to] assist peers in creating some new cross-curricular collaborations.

We are so grateful for Jennifer’s commitment to lifelong global learning, cross-curricular collaboration, and constantly expanding her own and her students’ worldviews!