Janesville School District Partnering with UW-W on International Summer Institute

(Janesville, WI) Nick Crow, Gazette

Foreign students in the Janesville School District International Summer Institute will live and attend some classes at UW-Whitewater this summer.

It will be the third year students from China and elsewhere participate in the program, but it’s the first time the district will partner with the university.

“We were thinking we were going to be bigger and have more students,” Superintendent Karen Schulte said. “We always have the issue of how we’re going to house them, so in anticipation of that, we began talking to places that have dorms.”

Schulte said about 20 foreign high school students have signed up for the program this summer. Last year, 27 elementary students, 77 middle school students and 21 high school students attended. Two years ago, 27 international students in grades 4 through 12 attended.

Schulte said the district decided to limit this year’s institute to only high school students because she wasn’t sure the district could manage the logistics of busing and housing more students, including elementary and middle school students, at UW-Whitewater.

That could change in the future, she said.

“The more we talked, the more we thought we should be working together on this, anyways, regardless of the dorms,” Schulte said. “We both have an international focus.

“That’s how it came about,” she said. “It’s a trial for both of us, but we’re thinking this might lead to some great things we can do together in the future.”

Schulte said the students enrolled in the summer program are being targeted to attend school in Janesville full-time for the 2016-17 school year.

Last year, high school students in the summer program attended courses at Craig High School. Elementary and middle school students went to Kennedy Elementary School. Foreign students stayed with host families or in hotels.

This year, all students will stay at UW-Whitewater.

Candace Chenoweth, director of the Center for Global Education at UW-Whitewater, said her office has worked with the district since she took her current position in 2012. When the district first submitted immigration documents to the Department of Homeland Security to begin its international program, her staff helped train Janesville staff, she said.

“When the opportunity came to help offer the summer institute, I really jumped at it,” Chenoweth said. “This is the best type of university and community cooperation that I could offer. Janesville has made a commitment to recruit international high school students, particularly those who want to go to college in the U.S. We would love to have some of those students to come to Whitewater. I think it’s a real win-win for both Janesville and UW-W.”

Chenoweth said that the university could accommodate more than 20 students, but having fewer will help the district and university gain insight into how to best manage the summer program in future years.

“We could have accommodated quite a few more, but 20 is the perfect number to allow us to work closely with the students,” Chenoweth said. “Having a smaller group will allow us to give students more individualized attention.”

This year’s institute will be from July 19 to Aug. 1. Each international student will pay $2,500 to attend. The amount covers tuition, activity fees, room and board, local field trips, meals, transportation for field trips and airport transfers. Not included in the fees are airfare, passport and visa fees, finance charges, agency fees, notarization, health and travel insurance, medical expenses, laundry, communications and personal shopping.

Chaperones will each pay $700 to attend the institute.

Students will split their time between Whitewater and Janesville. They will spend Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in Whitewater studying cross-cultural communication, iVideo, English language and ACT prep. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, they will travel to Janesville to study chemistry, robotics and computer coding at Craig High School.

“I think it’s the best of two worlds,” Chenoweth said. “The students get to see the high school but also get a residential community feel on a college campus. I think it’ll be really nice.”

For now, the agreement is only in place for this summer, but both sides said they may be interested in forming a permanent partnership.

“We’d love to have something like this take place every year,” Chenoweth said. “I think the school district and my office are going to run it in this fashion this year then evaluate what to do next year.”

The school district is also looking for local students interested in participating in the summer program. So far, eight local students have signed up.

“As these students come into our classroom and community, we don’t want them to just learn about English language but also American customs, and develop within themselves ability to understand and relate to U.S. culture while also being proud of their culture,” Chenoweth said. “It’s only two weeks, so we want to plant the seed so when they enroll in Janesville, they can build on those skills as they integrate.”