VES embraces initiatives that extend the confines of the school’s core curriculum. A few such initiatives include sustainability, critical thinking, global education, health and wellness, and service learning. Never before has it been more apparent that our students must recognize their place in a global community and thrive within it. However, mastering the most minimal skills in cultural literacy continue to elude most high school graduates. Educational models have given tremendous value to the traditional liberal arts curriculum so much so that the knowledge of our adolescents has begun to lack the intellectual breadth and ethical depth that may provide for a heightened capacity for civic engagement. Despite the evidence all around us of the interconnectedness of all things, our young citizens are not being taught to ask the questions “What kind of world are we making? What kind of world should we be making? What will my contribution be?” Despite the explosion of service endeavors by our youth, the reality is that these matters remain emphatically extracurricular resulting in civic-mindedness remaining outside the realm of serious adult thinking and purpose.
Furthermore, it is difficult to ignore that students are experiencing an increasingly “globalized” world. We are at a critical junction in education to provide learners the opportunity and competencies to reflect and share their own points of view and roles within a global, interconnected society, as well as understand and discuss complex relationships of common social, ecological, political and economic issues so as to derive new ways of thinking and behaving in such a world. There is a desired result of creating a new and robust connection between the traditional liberal arts education and that of a vibrant citizenship in the world. Current global challenges facing our citizens today (poverty, hunger, environmental concerns, health, ethnic and religious conflict, lack of access to education, etc.) are in need of answers. For this, it is essential that a contemporary curriculum provide sustainable and systemic avenues for which students have the responsibility to participate in finding solutions. These challenges can lead students to experience real world problem solving and set the landscape for VES’s Global Studies endeavors.
Providing real world learning experiences, fostering the necessary human value of empathy, and preparing students to be competitive in a global economy are just a few products of this endeavor that truly embrace the VES motto “Toward Full Stature.”