DHS among 30 schools chosen for global conference

“When our students walk across the stage at graduation, we’ve got to make sure they’re not walking off a cliff.”

These words from Destrehan High School Assistant Principal David Schexnaydre summed up one of his biggest takeaways from the recent Global Learning Network conference, which brought representatives of 30 schools from around the world to gather to share techniques, ideas and innovations in education with one another.

Schexnaydre and DHS Principal Stephen Weber attended the three-day conference last week in Boston, as Destrehan High was chosen earlier this year as one of the 30 schools recognized as a “World Leading Learner” by the Global Learning Network.

“I think any time you have the chance to spend time discussing education with so many experts and innovative people … anyone would benefit from this,” Weber said. “It’s a chance to compare approaches and see things from different points of view.”

The Global Learning Network website notes the goal of the collaboration is “bringing together educators from world-leading schools domestically and globally to share insights, resources and best practices for continually improving student success and education in and beyond participating schools and school systems.”

Among the elements that Destrehan was chosen for were its school-to-career program, strong academic results and its location near so much business and industry.

Schexnaydre said a major focus of the conference is on preparing students for the first two years after he or she graduates high school, noting those years are extremely important in setting up those students’ futures.

“You have kids who go to college, or go to technical college, and then you have kids who might not know yet and who may want to go do something else. And we’re trying to make sure we define what that something else is,” Schexnaydre said, “so that those kids are prepared for after high school, no matter what is going to happen.”

On that note, Weber said the phrase “Grade 14” struck a chord with him.

“That’s the phrase I remember most,” he said. “A lot of school systems now are not even considering themselves 9 through 12 grade schools, or 7 through 12. It’s 7 through 14, because a high school diploma just isn’t enough anymore. Middle schools are now preparing students not for high school but for ‘grade 14,’ the degree they’ll get after high school.”

Schexnaydre added the importance of preparing students to be more independent, as many pivotal situations dictate it necessary.

“Helping students advocate for themselves,” Schexnaydre said. “Mom and dad won’t be able to help with everything. We want our students to learn how to talk to an employer, how to go through a job interview, and be comfortable doing those things on their own.”

Schools in Norway, Sweden, South Korea and Singapore were among those represented, which Weber said helped bring an even richer mix of ideas to the table.

“When you factor in what they’re doing in different cultures, it’s just so interesting,” he said.
Schexnaydre learned of the conference while applying — successfully — for the Louisiana Educator Voice Fellowship, a partnership between America Achieves and the Louisiana Department of Education. But in addition to the fellowship, America Achieves deduced Destrehan would be a strong candidate to apply for the Global Learning Network.

Schexnaydre and Weber were interviewed about their school and its methods for preparing its students for the collegiate level, and the school was selected shortly after.

“It really means a lot (to be chosen),” Schexnaydre said. “When you see other people up there who are chosen and to know we’re seen in the same light and were selected in the same way, it’s really cool to know and it shows we’re doing some great things at Destrehan High School.”


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