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July 12, 2006
Contact: Randi Hacker, Center for East Asian Studies, (785) 864-3832.

Two Kansas public schools win $1,000 prize for international education

LAWRENCE — Shawnee Mission South High School in Overland Park and Southwest Junior High School in Lawrence have won $1,000 Kansas in the World Awards for Excellence in International Education for 2006.

The annual award was presented by the Kansas Committee for International Education in the Schools to a high school and to a middle or elementary school during a Kansas Department of Education conference this spring. The Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Kansas is host for KCIES.

Marian Sherran and Tanya Low accepted the award for Shawnee Mission South. Trish Bransky, principal at Southwest, accepted for her school.

The Shawnee Mission Center for International Studies at Shawnee Mission South is a leader among Kansas high schools in internationalizing its curriculum. Students there may take classes in international business and communication and in several foreign languages including Japanese, Arabic and Chinese. The school has the only certified Chinese teacher at the secondary level in Kansas and recently established an exchange program with a Chinese high school in Kaifeng, a city in Kansas’s sister province of Henan. Nine Shawnee Mission District students and two teachers spent two weeks in China this spring.

Lawrence’s Southwest Junior High has an exemplary international education agenda. The school offers classes that help introduce students to several different world areas including Asia and the Middle East. It also uses core subjects — English, math, social studies and science — together to teach a topic. To Bransky, the best lesson is one that will serve students in years ahead.

“If you find something that’s totally awesome about a culture,” Bransky said, “you'll be far more open to other parts of that culture. You’ll be far less likely to pass judgement on them.”

Nancy Hope, KCIES executive board member and an associate director at KU’s Center for East Asian Studies, and Glyn Rimmington, Boeing Distinguished Professor of Global Studies at Wichita State University, presented the awards. In her remarks, Hope reminded conference attendees that most Americans say students need to know more about the rest of the world and that Kansas is no exception.

“More than $6.7 billion of our state’s exports reached world markets last year,” said Hope. “In order to be successful in the 21st century, our students need to know about many lands and many cultures.”

All schools in Kansas are eligible for the Kansas in the World Award for Excellence in International Education. Schools interested in applying for the 2007 award are encouraged to check the KCIES Web site for details in the fall.

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The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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