Agriculture Career Tech Pathway teacher Aaron Parker was nationally recognized for his efforts to help cultivate globally-minded students.
Parker came in second place for the AFS-USA Global Educator Award, which honors educators who demonstrate excellence in integrating cultural diversity, global competence and internationalized concepts into their teaching.
“This is really honoring our students, our community partners and our programs,” Parker said. “It’s validation for what we’ve done here at Aiken and what we will continue to do.”
Aiken has a partnership with RefugeeConnect, an organization that connects refugees – people forced to flee their country to escape persecution or war – with resources to rebuild their lives as U.S. citizens. This includes student referrals to Aiken.
Parker says their work with RefugeeConnect opened the door to several other community partnerships including the World Affairs Council – Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. The organization offers summer internships to Aiken students who, through illustrated memoirs, share their experiences as refugees and newly immigrated students to Northern Kentucky elementary school children. Parker was nominated by Melissa McDonald, global education lead for the World Affairs Council.
“It focuses me on the fact that when we have a community partner with an idea, there are really positive things that come out of it,” Parker shared.
Over 50 countries and 40 languages are represented through Aiken’s student population. Parker says this kind of exposure to diversity makes him a better person.
“My students teach me every single day about things like strength, perseverance, courage, kindness and perspective. And while this recognition is great, what’s even better is that it shines a bright light on our students as we prepare them to be lifelong learners and advocates for justice.”