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WC continues to ‘shine ever brighter’ through a new program for international students.

“Most teachers I’ve had only see me as a student who needs to pass an exam. I want to attend Worthington Christian School because it seems like the teachers care about their students as more than students—as whole persons.” Chenjun Lin, a 16-year-old man from a province outside of Shanghai, China, spoke these words. In his search for an American high school where he could further his studies, this young man—who goes by ‘Lin’–visited WC’s website and was intrigued by the school’s mission. A loving, nurturing faculty and school environment, rigorous academics, and ample growth opportunities outside of the classroom were all clearly aligned with Lin’s educational goals, so he decided to apply to WC from across the globe.  

After submitting an application complete with English language proficiency scores, transcripts, and letters of recommendation from former teachers, he had a Zoom interview with a WC administrator to discuss his educational history and goals, background information, and hobbies and ask any questions about the school. The biggest question he asked in his interview was “Do teachers at WC really care about their students as more than just students?” The answer was a confident, “Yes! Teachers at WC care deeply about their students’ holistic growth and flourishing.” Based on his obvious academic and linguistic capabilities, Lin was later offered admission to WC. He will come to WC as a tenth grader this January.  

Lin will join the small-but-growing population of international students at the Upper School. While in past years, the school has hosted a small number of international/foreign exchange students, WC has made steps this year to build and retain an international student population in a more intentional way.  

One of these steps is adding an English Language Learning (ELL) Teacher to the Upper School faculty. This role’s responsibilities include developing an ELL program to meet students’ learning needs, facilitate communication with teachers, and providing necessary instructional support. Laura Fitzpatrick, an Advancement team member who is also a certified Spanish and TESOL educator, is serving as the ELL Teacher. She explains, “I have always loved working with international students, and it is a joy to be a part of this new program at WC. I believe that all students stand to benefit from the unique opportunity to experience cultural and linguistic diversity on an interpersonal level.”   

Over the last several years, WC has developed a partnership with the Columbus-based non-profit organization International Partnership of Education Research and Communication (IPERC). IPERC’s work includes, among several other educational initiatives, partnering with over 200 private schools in the U.S. and Canada to recruit international students and help them navigate the admissions process. Vicky Shillington, Vice President of IPERC, shares, “WC and IPERC have built a strong partnership over several years, and we are very honored to be working with the school. This is an exciting time since we now have the opportunity to grow the international student program because the school has invested in an ELL position to serve these students. The international students attending the school are already reaping the benefits of having this additional support to help them adjust to a new school and culture and succeed academically.” 

Unlike other foreign-exchange programs, most students who attend WC through IPERC plan to complete their high school studies at WC. Nearly all of them also hope to attend an American college or university. American universities are considered by most to be the best in the world. Many young international students see attending an American high school as the best pathway to successful admission to and completion of undergraduate and graduate studies in the U.S. While some students live here with a family member, most live with host families arranged through IPERC.  

In keeping with the Christian Studies courses that each Warrior takes each year, studying the Bible is also a part of the learning experience for international students. Rather than immediately placing each new student in their grade-level Bible class, the Upper School has added an “Introduction to the Bible” course for all new international students. Christian Studies teacher Dustin Speaks is building the curriculum and structure of this new class. In his words, “It has been a pleasure teaching Introduction to Christianity. It’s a joy to watch students interact with the Bible, sometimes for the first time, reading and learning about God’s character and the grand narrative of scripture. I am excited to see how this program grows!” 

As with every other facet of Worthington Christian, this new program has a deeper significance that extends beyond enrollment, course offerings, and student opportunities. Director of Teaching and Learning Tom Burns explains the why of developing an ELL program, “The primary reason for this is the mission of the Gospel of God’s grace through Jesus, and Jesus’ commission of His followers to share that good news.” Fifty years ago, WC’s founders envisioned the school being a light to the Central Ohio community, and the school has remained committed to shining the light of Jesus ever since. Now, through its new ELL program, that light shines far beyond Central Ohio and into the farthest corners of the globe. The school now has a beautiful opportunity to help students from around the world reach their God-given potential by welcoming them into a loving, nurturing, Christ-centered environment.

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