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Classroom Happenings: Global Issues, Local Connections

The Steward School
Experiential learning brings new perspectives
Spartans of all ages are encouraged to make meaningful connections with the wider community. In the course Exploring Global Issues, Upper School students examine both history and history in the making in order to become more competent and confident global citizens. The course is taught by Upper School Social Studies Teachers Sarah Dwelle, James Haske, and Jalyn Wheatley.

Ms. Dwelle explained, “The issues chosen for exploration are selected based on current relevance and student interest. We chose to start the year by studying the war in Ukraine because of student interest in understanding the current conflict.” On January 26, the students spent their lesson in the Bryan Innovation Lab taking part in some experiential learning with Lift Up Ukraine, a local non-profit organization. 

“The organization’s mission is to ‘help provide survival supplies, humanitarian relief, and support to Ukraine's civilian defenders,’” noted Mr. Haske. “Several months ago in class, students learned about the origins of this ongoing conflict and its impacts, and they identified potential solutions, ranging from providing humanitarian aid to direct military intervention.”

Ms. Wheatley, Mr. Haske, and Ms. Dwelle then reached out to Lift Up Ukraine to connect to the local Ukrainian community, and Maks Zagorodniy, board chairman for Lift Up Ukraine, along with four other members of the non-profit, visited the students. In the Bryan Innovation Lab, Mr. Zagorodniy talked about living in the Soviet Union as a child, Ukraine’s independence, emigrating to America, and the current conflict; and he answered students’ questions. 

Students also learned more about Ukrainian culture by baking Ukrainian pastries, such as sochniki (cottage cheese pastries) and plum rogaliki (rugelach), with the other members of the non-profit. They sampled the delicious treats, and the rest went toward a bake sale in the Upper School to raise money to support Lift Up Ukraine. Students also raised money during Steward’s Model UN conference that weekend.

Iris English ’26 said, “I really enjoyed making pastries and getting to experience a small part of Ukrainian culture. It made me feel even more connected to what we learned in class!” 

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