By Kelly Scrima, Free Press Staff
The University of Southern Maine is welcoming a new addition: The International Academy (TIA), an international high school accredited by the NEASC-Commission on Independent Schools (CIS), which is currently accepting applications. The academy is open to international students in eleventh and twelfth grade, who upon graduation will earn a high school diploma, and the classes they take can potentially transfer and count for college credit. The students will have the opportunity to choose between a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) or Liberal Arts track while enrolled. Students will also be able to engage in “social and recreational opportunities” at local high schools if they wish to as well.
Joanna Evans is the executive director of the academy, and Jenn White is the associate director. Evans said the inspiration for the academy comes from an idea that President Glenn Cummings had, which “was something that he proposed when he was applying for the position [of president].” Evans has a background in higher education and in working in boarding schools, and she believes that working at the academy will be “exciting, as it is a combination of both.”
Students enrolled TIA will learn alongside USM students in a variety of classes. As for the integration of high school students onto a college campus, Evans remarked that “since 1976 high school students from the area have been taking classes on campus here at USM.” The students will take the majority of their classes with USM students, which means the students will be integrated directly into the college community.
Jenn White opened up about how she feels about the academy in Maine, and said, “I get jazzed every time I think about that.” The University of Southern Maine has put a great deal of focus on promoting and fostering diversity and inclusion on all its campuses, and this academy is meant to help the university further its aims. Currently, several U.S. states and 36 countries worldwide comprise USM’s student body.
As the students will take the majority of their classes at USM, there exists the potential for engaging global perspectives in an academic setting.
“In the classroom, I think that [these TIA students] will add a lot to the conversation. You’re going to have folks coming from areas of the world that [other students] may not be familiar with at all, and their cultural values are very different from what we may have grown up with here in the states,” White said. “I think for professors it might be invigorating to have those new ideas brought into the classroom, and hopefully [they] will help people become a little more engaged and add that global view. And it’s not necessarily something you can just read about, so being able to have conversations with people face-to-face, I think that’s when we really get to learn.”
White hopes that this academy will become a “real trendsetter,” as there “aren’t other universities out there right now that have the type of program that we’re creating.” While there are other universities that have similar programs, there is no one quite exactly like the one set to be instilled at USM. As time unfolds we will learn more about how USM and TIA will work together to foster a global learning environment. To find out more about the academy visit: usm.maine.edu/the-international-academy