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Susan O'Rourke | May 10, 2024

“Joining the Teacher-Student Initiative is one of the best programs that I have ever participated in during my twenty years of teaching, Join and you will be amazed at how much you and your students will grow and learn!” (2023-2024 TSI Teacher-Participant)

The Teacher-Student Initiative (TSI) is a program designed for North Carolina high school and early college teachers from diverse subject areas who are interested in working with UNC faculty members to strengthen their understanding of an interdisciplinary global theme and further study the connections to educators’ STEAM specialties. This year’s cohort of educators came from schools across North Carolina and taught subjects including American history, biology, civics, English, foods, health sciences, math, media, Spanish, visual arts, and world history.

This year, participants worked with Dr. Gina Chowa, professor and Associate Dean for Global Engagement in the UNC School of Social Work, to develop lesson plans around the theme of “Nourishing Traditions, Nourishing Lives: Where Tradition Meets Progress in South Africa.” Participants learned about the intersection of environmentalism, food security, education, culture, and the arts in South Africa from Dr. Chowa. They also worked alongside the Assistant Director for the Teacher-Student Initiative, Courtney Harris-Brown, and peers to design lesson plans that put that learning into action in their classrooms.

Through UNC World View Students Day, held on April 16, 2024, Teacher-Student Initiative educators and their students connected with Dr. Chowa virtually. This session provided students and educators with additional information about the causes and impacts of food insecurity in South Africa as well as measures taken to create positive change.

At the Teacher-Student Initiative Collaboration Celebration, educators learned from Dr. Kevin Marinelli, professor in the Department of Communication and Executive Director for Program for Public Discourse at UNC-Chapel Hill. Dr. Marinelli provided participants with foundational tools to engage students in conversations about global and local issues through rhetorical inquiry. This session empowered educators to facilitate discussions effectively and communicate ideas with clarity and impact.

Educators also participated in a workshop to share out their lesson plans and exchange best practices for incorporating global learning into their classes. In their reflections, educators shared that they found the program “invigorating, enlightening, and fun.” One educator stated: “The best part was working on the lesson and integrating it with the curriculum as is. [The program] exposed students to different perspectives and created understanding about real life issues. I also loved meeting the other teachers and collaborating at the workshops or conferences.”

We were so impressed with the TSI educators’ expertise, creativity, and commitment to expanding students’ knowledge about South Africa! Congratulations to the Cohort of 2023-2024, and thank you to the Anonymous Trust, the Office of the Vice Provost for Global Affairs, and private donors for their generous support of this impactful program.