Collaborating with Watertown Public Schools for Sustained Change

26 January 2016

One of the biggest reasons we find our work with schools and districts to be so rewarding is we get the chance to work with visionary educators making global education a priority in their schools. Jean Fitzgerald, Superintendent of Watertown Public Schools (WPS), is just that. A Global Learning Partner for over ten years, WPS educators have regularly attended our workshops, seminars and summer institutes over the years. Building on their partnership, Jean approached us for collaborative consulting to help infuse global programming across all the schools in their district.

It’s a common thread in our discussions with schools nationwide. "Administrators often say to us 'We want all our teachers to teach about the world, but we need a thought partner to collaborate with us on creating achievable goals, not only for our school but for our community as a whole'", says Deborah Cunningham, Senior Program Director.

So what does this kind of collaboration look like? In the case of WPS, it meant sitting down with a mix of educators across all grades to identify natural entry points in day-to-day curricular activities. "When we talk about infusing global education into curriculum," explains Deborah, "we look for opportunities for teachers across all disciplines to meet and collaborate around building global projects that align with one another." Together as a group, we reviewed what schools across the country are doing, and how they’re building advocacy within their districts. Sharing examples of what’s working in other classrooms helped WPS determine the kinds of global learning experiences they wanted their students to have before they graduate. Brainstorming common obstacles and barriers to change actually made it easier to create deliberate goals around those experiences. "Working with schools for over 26 years, we’ve seen firsthand the benefits of incremental change," says Deborah. "It’s about honing in on the things you can do today."

Jean FitzgeraldWe want to help schools and districts have in-depth conversations about global education. "With enough educators talking about global education, you begin to see a ripple effect take place," notes Deborah. "And that leads to increased buy-in."

The ultimate goal is to transform students. Jean Fitzgerald concurs. "Primary Source has been working with us to build achievable goals around global education, and support our teachers in furthering global learning,” she says. "As it does with all its programming, Primary Source energizes our team of educators, helping us to provide students with a deeper understanding of the world."

To learn more about how you can develop global learning approaches in your school or district, contact Deborah Cunningham at



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Watertown, MA 02472
(617) 923-9933

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