On Monday, Oct. 17, Brett Reichert, Clayton State University’s associate director for International Student Services, reached across educational levels and county lines to Seaborn Lee Elementary School in East Point, Ga. (Fulton County Schools) as guest speaker for its quarterly professional development series.
The connection with Seaborn wasn’t totally random, just a little indirect. Both Reichert and Seaborn principal, Dr. Emily Massey, are from Thomasville, Ga., and had reconnected just a few weeks at their 25th high school reunion (Thomasville High School, Class of 1986). During the festivities, Massey spoke of Seaborn’s efforts to prepare its students “for the next generation of global leadership.” Reichert expressed uncertainty over the same goal, given emerging trends he has witnessed first-hand in the ranks of elementary students in other countries. That dialogue led to Massey’s invitation to speak with her teachers.
Designed “to support continuous collaboration, dialogue, inquiry, and improvement,” Massey says of Reichert’s visit, “Brett truly helped our teachers to understand the importance of producing globally-minded students who value their education. He also stressed the importance of exposure to cultures, across town and around the world, and what will be required of U.S. students further along in their academic careers, to remain competitive.”
Reichert had not been in an elementary school media center since the 1970’s, so the chance for him to address these teachers in 2011 was “a beautiful opportunity.” Speaking from his own experience in Asia, Africa and with international students in the U.S., Reichert gave examples of “unbelievable competition U.S. kids will be facing from kids in the global marketplace, who are starving and passionate for the opportunity to profit from our greatest exports: knowledge and ingenuity.” He also spoke of emerging higher educational programs, such as Supply Chain Management (offered at Clayton State), which will help drive the economy of 2025, when Seaborn’s newest students will be college graduates.
“Chopsticks are made in the U.S.A., and exported to China… Yes, a plant in Americus already employs 100 people and produces 10 million pair of chopsticks per day. It’s time our kids understand that even though they may find jobs in their hometown, their customers and end-users could be a world away. Math, science and foreign language skills will be keys to success in that paradigm,” explains Reichert.
Massey cited many awards and distinctions Seaborn’s 525 students have recently claimed, including, “Title One Distinguished school, nine years running; GSASS highest gains school; No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Blue Ribbon School” and many others the faculty and students have achieved.
Reichert closed by inviting the 40+ Seaborn teachers to Clayton State’s College of Business Distinguished Lecture Series with NCR Corp’s CEO, William Nuti, at Spivey Hall on Wednesday, Oct. 19, which he pointed out would be free, after school, and also focusing on globalization.