Worthington City Schools' Board of Education recently approved a new high school course as part of the new three-year Global Scholars Diploma Program.

Worthington City Schools' Board of Education recently approved a new high school course as part of the new three-year Global Scholars Diploma Program.

Board members voted to approve the course Dec. 12.

Jennifer Wene, chief academic officer, said Global Scholars I is designed for freshmen, to teach global fluency in cross-curricular areas through inquiry-based practices.

She said students will create a digital portfolio of four global competencies.

"The four categories to be assessed are investigating the world, recognizing perspectives, communicating ideas and taking action," she said.

The course uses a blended learning format, both online and face-to-face and offers 0.5 of an elective credit.

The district partnered with the Columbus Council of World Affairs to bring the Global Scholars Diploma Program to Worthington schools in October, with a goal of helping interested students develop "global competency," described in course literature as "having the knowledge, skills and mindset to thrive in our global society."

During the three-year program, students earn digital badges in the four areas and complete a capstone project that focuses on service learning, through possible international travel opportunities or mentorship in a global business setting, said Neil Gupta, director of secondary education.

"Students would work with students in other districts pursuing the diploma -- right now we are partnering with Marysville -- and participate in cross-culture field trips," he said.

"The third year would be the capstone experience, for service learning and other projects to bring the study into the real world," he said.

He said 28 students are in the program in Worthington.

"We are allowed up to 50 students and would have taken up to 50, but that many did not apply," he said. "It is a new time commitment, but I think as more students learn about it, we will get to that number pretty quickly."

Wene said counselors would begin this spring to talk to eighth-graders about the program.

Gupta said students would work mainly on their own, through online courses, then go on several field trips with teachers.

"Students attend the first field trip to investigate the world, to go through empathy experiences to meet people from other places," he said. "They have round-robin experiences, where they talked to Franklin University college students (for example), then go deeper into the subject, 'How do I investigate the world?'

"Most students want to finish the diploma their junior year, so they can put it on college transcripts," he said.

Innovative grants

In other business at the Dec. 12 meeting, the Worthington Educational Foundation handed out grants for teachers.

"We gave our 13 grant awards for $35,755," said Bethany Moore, with the grants allocation committee.

The grants included $3,750 to Arin Kress, from Worthington Estates Elementary School, for "The Walking Classroom."

Moore said the project allows students the opportunity to walk while learning an academic lesson via podcast, with lessons geared toward literacy, science, health and social studies.

Other grants were for a portable suspended swing system for students with sensory needs, kinesthetic classroom desks and flexible movement seating that includes rocking chairs, balance balls and wobble cushions.

The largest grant, for $8,905, was awarded to Beth Mills, the district's adapted physical education teacher, for six adapted bikes/tricycles and one racing wheelchair for students with special needs.

Mills said research shows that providing those students with therapeutic bike riding leads to better balance, coordination and emotional well-being.