Global Leaders at West Oxford Elementary

A Participate Learning Case Study

A spinning globe with plants

Since establishing a partnership with Participate Learning in 2019, West Oxford Elementary School has witnessed notable advancements within its school environment, including:

  • Improving student test scores.
  • Increased teacher satisfaction.
  • Increased teacher retention.
  • Increased opportunity for teacher leadership.
Imagine a school where students and teachers are empowered to create a positive impact in their local and global community.

About West Oxford

West Oxford Elementary School
450 students
Global Leaders
Current Participate Learning partner implementing Global Leaders and a Spanish Dual Language Program
Pre-K – 5

West Oxford Elementary School, located in the rural town of Oxford in Granville County, North Carolina, faced a number of challenges in 2019.

The West Oxford staff saw Participate Learning’s Global Leaders framework as a vehicle to help drive school improvement efforts while also preparing students for the global marketplace.

Defining drivers and levers

To better understand how Global Leaders amplified school-wide efforts towards improvement at West Oxford Elementary School, this case study uses the key concepts of drivers and levers to explain the connection between the school’s needs and Participate Learning’s Global Leaders offering.



For this case study, drivers are defined as the factors that most influence the challenge at hand.

These are the things that drive students toward success or failure. Such factors may include access to resources, experienced teaching staff, or well-equipped facilities.



Much like the simple machine, a lever — in the field of education — is an initiative or framework that amplifies the change effect on a particular challenge.

What drivers did West Oxford identify to influence student achievement?

The Global Leaders framework launched at West Oxford Elementary School (WOES) in early 2020 following several months of strategic planning for implementation between the school’s principal, Bethany Bonnemere, the global committee, and Participate Learning’s Strategic Coach, Ashley Solesbee. Principal Bonnemere saw the potential for the Global Leaders framework to serve as a vehicle to help drive school improvement efforts.

No one gets excited about raising student test scores. They will be excited when it happens, but there must be a different vehicle for change.
Bethany Bonnemere, Principal, West Oxford Elementary School

The staff at West Oxford felt strongly that Global Leaders could help them address factors they found to be critical in raising test scores, while also attending to a holistic preparation for the global workforce. They identified the following items as drivers of student achievement (the factors that they believe most affect student success):

  1. Create a unified school culture
  2. Increase teacher retention
  3. Increase community engagement

Next, let’s explore each driver of student success and the Global Leaders levers, or initiatives, that amplified the changes at West Oxford.

puzzle pieces

Drivers of student achievement

The factors that West Oxford Elementary believe most affect student success

spinning gears

Driver 1: Create a unified school culture

In order to improve achievement, teachers and students should like coming to school. They should feel safe and valued.

Lever A: Leverage global competencies as a shared language throughout the school

The integration of Global Leaders into the school community was an opportunity to unify school-wide initiatives under a shared language and to cultivate the use of global competencies. This included revised mission and vision statements, along with a daily pledge recited during morning announcements, that empower students to identify as world changers.

Lever B: Integration of a global focus with SEL/PBIS initiatives

WOES launched their global efforts by prioritizing the integration of global competencies with pre-existing PBIS and SEL initiatives. The school also launched a Global Competency of the Month initiative. Students, teachers, administrators, and other school staff learn about the identified competency, apply it, and recognize others as they demonstrate it.

Driver 2. Increase teacher retention
In order for student achievement to improve, teachers should be both highly-skilled and supported in their ongoing professional development. This support is necessary to retain experienced teachers.
Lever A: Professional development to build capacity in the integration of the school’s global focus

In addition to emphasizing the global competencies, Global Leaders professional development also focuses on four essential instructional practices aimed at increasing student engagement and encouraging deeper global learning: creating inclusive classroom culture, building relevance, connecting students to the world, and promoting student agency.

WOES teachers have 24/7 access to Participate Learning’s Global Leaders Community of Practice, a collaborative online professional learning space complete with:

  • Exemplar activities
  • Webinars
  • Asynchronous courses
  • Monthly live chats
Lever B: Strategic coaching

Each Global Leaders school is assigned a Participate Learning strategy coach. This experienced education professional works with school administration and the global committee to:

  • Set goals and plan implementation
  • Coach teachers in growing capacity for leadership
  • Support priority initiative alignment
  • Evaluate program success

Together with their Participate Learning strategy coach, the school’s global committee developed a phased approach gradually introducing integrated global concepts. WOES implemented a huddle structure to teachers’ professional development—a weekly 15-minute standing meeting in which to discuss ideas and best practices for incorporating Global Leaders content from the online asynchronous courses.

Lever C: Integration of global focus in the school improvement plan

West Oxford explicitly integrated Global Leaders into their school improvement plan, electing to hold themselves accountable for a number of global integration tasks. All schools in North Carolina are required to prepare and implement a school improvement plan, which must be aligned with a set of designated core functions and effective practices.

Driver 3: Increase community engagement
In order for student achievement to improve, students should see a positive relationship between their school, families, and the community as a whole.

Together with the global committee, Principal Bonnemere developed various community connection strategies: a greater social media presence, outreach to local businesses, and the development of social action projects for students.

Lever A: Community Scavenger Hunt using global competencies

In an effort to increase community engagement and to reinforce local-to-global connections, the WOES global committee designed a Community Scavenger Hunt. With the aid of a map and helpful hints, staff, students, and families were encouraged to visit each of the participating community partners and to develop a better understanding of how their local community is connected to the larger world.

Lever B: Social action projects based on community need and aligned with the UN SDGs

The Global Leaders framework uses the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as an integration tool to connect local to global. When the Global Leaders framework first launched at WOES, the global committee worked to connect existing service projects to the SDGs.

Now, further along in the journey, they have developed unique global action projects that are directly tied to the SDGs which most affect their local community. Teachers and students at WOES work in collaboration with various community groups to better understand how the SDGs affect citizens in their town and then plan to take action together.

West Oxford Elementary is a global school
A World Changers Transformation:
Changes and Improvements

At WOES, their aligned efforts with Global Leaders have led to positive results:

  • Student test scores are improving, particularly those of certain subgroups.
  • Teacher perception of working conditions has improved. Awareness of strategic school priorities has increased drastically.
  • All staff have access to targeted, timely professional development.
  • Teacher turnover is improving.
  • Experienced teachers provide job-embedded coaching.
  • Students are returning to West Oxford from charter and private schools.

They attribute these improvements to their collaborative visioning, along with improved school culture, and momentum behind their shared global mission. Further, global leads, instructional coaches, and the school social worker consulted with the Participate Learning strategy coach toincorporate global concepts, and teachers are actively growing their practice via the Global Leaders Community of Practice.

Key Takeaways

The Global Leaders framework is an assembly of strategic processes, practices, and supports that allow schools to connect the dots between their vision for global leadership and priority school outcomes. West Oxford Elementary School is one example of the impact of Global Leaders as a core priority for school improvement.

By creating Global Leaders we are ensuring the future of our world and making sure that we are creating a generation of people that are inclusive of all people. I am so excited to see my students make connections globally because it helps them realize that they have an impact not only in their small corner of the world but in the world as a whole.
Sonia Hernandez, West Oxford Elementary School