International School Connection (ISC): An Historical Perspective
The ISC story had its beginning in 1993 when Karolyn Snyder and Robert Anderson, from the University of South Florida were invited to speak at an international conference in Berlin. They became acquainted with Conny Bjorkman, from Mid Sweden University, and Ivan Prodanov and Irina Badayan, Superintendents of the Education Department in Sochi Russia. Sochi had been designated as an experimental education site for Russia, where education was in transition from a closed to an open system to the world.
After the Conference in Berlin, Prodanav invited Bjorkman to plan a conference School Leadership and Management, which included Snyder and Anderson as speakers. During the Conference, the international group of speakers, from many continents, speculated how they might work together across borders to promote the latest knowledge about and practices in school leadership and management. It was agreed that Sochi would host a meeting the following year for this international team to create a support system for school leaders to learn with and from each other across borders.
What emerged during this planning conference was an international network of universities and school districts that agreed to work together for principals to learn the best approaches to school development from scholars around the world, and from each other. Thereafter training programs were offered to principals in Sochi, Stockholm, Tampa, and Trujillo Venezuela, with an international Summit being held each year in one of the sponsoring countries.
In time the name “International School Connection” emerged as a framework for integrating additional universities to the network: University of South Florida, Helsinki University, Mid Sweden University, Linkoping University in Sweden, Durban University in South Africa, University of the Andes in Trullio, Venezuela. At a 1999 conference in Stockholm, with K-12 principals and also professors and leaders, officials representing the various ISC universities signed an agreement to support the work of the ISC International University Cooperative. An international Advisory Board was formed with representatives representing each nation, with Conny Bjorkman and Karolyn Snyder serving as Co-Chairs of the Board.
Eventually the idea of a Masters Degree and a Doctoral Degree Program evolved for ISC members at the University of South Florida (USF) under the leadership of Professors Karolyn Snyder and Waynne James, titled Global Organizational Development. An ISC website was also created to support communication among the universities and those in the new degree programs, along with principals in the cooperating countries who were engaged in ISC professional development programs. An international Summit was also convened each year in a sponsoring international city: Sochi, Stockholm, Tampa, and Ostersund Sweden.
In 2002 a global Summit was held in both Helsinki and Sochi, with members of ISC partner countries attending. It was agreed at that time to convene the next meeting of the ISC Board in Tampa to form a 501C3 nonprofit organization, with an international Board of Directors and Leadership Team. Snyder became President and continued in that role until 2010, when she retired.
During the Ottawa Summit in 2004, the idea of schools as global learning centers was born, with John Fitzgerald leading the initiative to facilitate the identification of activities for such a school. A list of Global Learning Center Benchmarks (GLC) was identified, with examples for each, from educators in all ISC countries. Eventually ten GLC Benchmarks emerged and were validated as a system by the ISC global community, under the leadership of Elaine Sullivan. Soon a training program for principals and key teachers was created, which was followed by a School Certification Program as a GLC School. The first certificate was given to the A.Y. Jackson Secondary School in Ottawa during the 2007 ISC Global Summit in Beijing.
School partnerships began to take shape across time zones with teachers and students working together on global challenges, such as climate, the environment, migration, water, etc. As a result of teachers being involved in ISC programs, three Youth Summits were organized for middle school and high school students, led was led by Elaine Sullivan: Tampa, Beijing, and hosted by Hans Forsberg in Nykoping Sweden. ISC Summits for educators continued each year in Helsinki, Sochi, Ottawa, Madrid, Tampa, Norrkoping, Beijing, Stockholm, and a training event in Curacao.
During the second and third phases of ISC development, evaluation and research studies were conducted and papers published by Kristen Snyder on the Emerging Digital Culture of Organizations, and the Global Citizen. A book, Living on the Edge of Chaos: Leading Schools into the Global Age by Karolyn Snyder, Michele Acker-Hocevar and Kristen Snyder, was published in 2000, and revised in 2008. This book documented the work of the ISC and provided a conceptual framework from physics for developing systemic schools for this global age. The book was later translated into Chinese and published in Beijing in 2011.
As is often true, the ISC from 1993 to 2011 was a journey that had its time. Eventually most of the ISC Board Members retired and moved on to other priorities in their lives. Joyce Swarzman hosted many ISC events over the years at Corbett Prep, including the last ISC Summit in 2010. Corbett Prep at IDS is now the ISC’s flagship elementary and middle school. The last Global Youth Summit was held in held in Nyrkoping Sweden, and led by Elaine Sullivan, Hans Forsberg and Linda Boza, which drew young people from countries on many continents.
In the Fall 2016, after a six year hiatus, many former ISC leaders began to visit Corbett Prep in Tampa because of its rising prominance as an international beacon of innovation, systemic thinking among the staff, and global learning activities for students. Under the leadership of Joyce Swarzman, Corbett Prep had grown as a cohesive systemic organization, where the latest innovations are integrated into its programs, while continuing those that supported student success over the years. The performance of Corbett Prep students has remained outstanding and its graduates are in high demand. It is the systemic approach to rapid development over the years that caught the eye of former ISC leaders, and which prompted interest in promoting the school and the qualities that promoted sustainability over 21 years as Swarzman continuously raised the bar of excellence.
Given our excitement over Corbett Prep’s continuous growth over time, contacts were made in Spring 2017 with former ISC university, school, and school district leaders around the world to inquire about the feasibility of a “new run” for the ISC. From March to May, 100 percent of those contacted (n=20) responded that the ISC was needed now more than ever, and continued online to fashion a fresh ISC mission, vision, and purpose. Many indicated that a systemic approach to sustainable schooling was needed, rather than a focus only on the global features of a school’s development. It became clear that the ISC needed to promote a global learning center program while also stressing the school’s development as an integrated and interdependent system of services and programs. School sustainability became the clarion call, with a systemic approach to development, for designing a new ISC chapter.
A new international Board of Directors and an Advisory Council were created in December 2017 to guide this new ISC journey. The ISC is now preparing to offer programs to school leaders around the world that support school sustainability for this global age using a systems approach. These programs include: 1) an International School Partnership Program, 2) a Global Learning Center Support System, 3) A Leadership for Sustainable School Development Training program, 4) Becoming a Global Learning Center Training, 5) Training in More Options for Results in Education (M.O.R.E.), 6) Services and resources of Corbett Preparatory School at IDS, and 7) International School Study Visits Program. In time there will emerge seminars and global summits as the work of the ISC global community emerges over time in response to changing conditions.
Please join us for this new ISC Journey!
A Salute To ISC Leaders During The First 17 Years
During the previous 17 years various leaders around the world contributed significantly to our growth as members of the Board of Directors:
Robert H. Anderson (USA):
was the wise sage among us, and who with Karolyn Snyder donated a gift of over 1.5 million dollars for the ISC’s development. His groundbreaking work on team teaching, nongradedness, and multi-age pupil grouping reshaped school learning around the world. His global influence on the quality of school learning and organization attracted others around the world to join us for creating a global venture.
Conny Bjorkman (Sweden):
had a vision and creative ideas for shaping programs across borders for school leaders during the early phases of the ISC, which emerged from the partnership with Sochi Schools. His creative work with schools in Sochi (working with Irina Badayan, laid the foundation for the International School Connection.
Irina Badayan (Russia):
had the vision and intent for integrating the best practices about schooling around the world into Sochi schools through conferences and international school visits for her principals. She also provided the Sochi School District as a location for the initial ISC international team to shape the beginning years of its programs. Her vision and school district support system enabled the ISC to develop its purpose and organization.
Irmeli Halinen (Finland):
whose significant leadership in the Helsinki School District during the early years of the ISC work in Helsinki, led to her promotion to the Finnish Ministry of Education to assume responsibility for all schools in Finland. Her work with the leading nation of PISA’s examination of national performance, led to her playing a major role with PISA and UNESCO. She brought the ISC and its programs to PISA, which influenced our orientation to great schooling in our work. Now, her recent curriculum reform in Finland provides a new benchmark for education systems around the world, and also for the ISC .
Sture Norlin (Sweden):
played a vital role in the initial creation of the ISC at an international meeting in Sochi, Russia. Sture’s contributions focused on the leadership development of school principals through the creation of the ISC as an international network of school leaders. As a former principal, director of leadership development, and a school superintendent in Sweden, Sture created a systemic model of leadership, called the “cogwheel”, which he promoted throughout Sweden and Germany through school leadership seminars and training programs.
Hans-Erik Persson (Sweden):
provided visionary leadership for the ISC Board of Directors as our journey continued over the years, and as our global summits moved from continent to continent. Hans-Erik also organized the Stockholm International Conferences, with the ISC as a partner over many years, which stimulated the influence of the ISC.
Kristen Snyder (USA & Sweden):
was responsible for research and publications of ISC work as it unfolded over the decades, lifting up the emerging digital culture of schools, and the concept of the global citizen. Her work gave shape to the 2008 revision of the co-authored book: Living on the Edge of Chaos: Leading Schools into the Global Age.
John Fitzgerald (Canada):
brought us the schools from Ottawa, and launched the movement toward benchmarks for schools as global learning centers. The first school to be certified as a Global Learning Center was from Ottawa. John shaped many of the ISC programs and services over decades, becoming a Co-Chair of the ISC Board of Directors, and ISC leader for the Stockholm Conferences.
Luis Perez Martinez (Spain):
organized private school leaders in Spain to work together on school development, and became a force in the ISC, giving definition to our international school study visits. He also hosted the ISC Global Summit in Madrid.
Waynne James (USA):
worked as a partner with Karolyn Snyder to create the ISC Masters and Doctoral Programs at the University of South Florida known as Global Organizational Development, during which she worked with our international group of students.
Elaine Sullivan (USA):
championed the Global Learning Benchmark System through its various stages of evolution, providing strong leadership for its development as a support system for schools. She organized and led the three ISC Global Youth Summits in Tampa, Beijing, and Nyrkoping Sweden, bring youth and their teachers to the ISC community.
Joyce Swarzman (USA):
hosted many ISC global events at Corbett Prep over the decades and continued promoting the GLC Benchmarks and global learning with her school community. She created the MORE Approach training program, which influences the culture of classroom living, and has trained teachers and instructional leaders in China and Spain. Because of the school’s performance on all ISC values, her school, Corbett Prep at IDS will become the ISC Flagship School.
Xinmin Sang (China):
paved the way for an exploratory visit of the ISC leaders to Nanjing and Beijing, where he then hosted an ISC Global Summit in Beijing. He also translated the book into Chinese and arranged its publication in Beijing: Living on the Edge of Chaos: Leading Schools into the Global Age.
Hans Forsberg (Sweden):
gave the ISC its earliest high school model with a global learning journey. He prepared students as global citizens by sponsoring international courses and projects for his students, both at his school, and abroad. He hosted the third Youth Summit in Nyrkoping, bring students and their teachers from Tanzania.
Karolyn Snyder (USA):
leadership has been a constant ISC thread from the beginning ISC years through to the new era. She co-authored the book, Living on the Edge of Chaos: Leading Schools into the Global Age, and created the training program for school and district leaders called Leadership for Sustainable School Development.