By Lara Sokoloff
Head of School Jeanne Huybrechts toured five schools in Africa this summer, including the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls.
The trip was coordinated by Global Connections, a non-profit organization that brings together educators from all over the world interested in initiating global programs at their schools, Huybrechts said. She traveled with 44 educators from over 20 countries.
The educators first visited OWLA, a boarding school at which all students are on financial aid. The school also pays for a student’s college education, should she go to college. Around 500 students attend the school in grades 7-12.
“Oprah’s school was an interesting place,” Huybrechts said. “There are thousands of applications to this place, and it was a very, very impressive facility.”
Huybrechts said the Maru a Pula School in Gabarone, Botswana was most similar to Harvard-Westlake.
“There was a panel of [students] speaking,” she said. “I just kept thinking that they were so much like our students, that our students would love to meet these kids.”
Huybrechts said she hopes to help Maru a Pula create a student newspaper because the school lacks one.
She also met an educator from Beijing who wants to work to build a newspaper.
“There was a tangible situation that we could follow up on,” she said. “I’ve been thinking about how you find someone in another school, what would be the right school, how do you get an adviser at the right school and he was really keen to do this.”
The educators also visited Lebone II, a school within an African kingdom, the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa and Tiger Kloof Educational Institution in Vryburg District, South Africa.
“I just recognized how easy it would be for our school to make its own global connections,” Huybrechts said. “I know these 44 other educators from 20 countries, and I’ve been to these schools and schools in Korea, China and Singapore, as well. I’m really fired up to initiate that in a big way.”