Mater Dei Prep Students Cut Ribbon on Model Classroom

Students from Mater Dei Prep’s Emerging Global Leaders program cut the ribbon on their new classroom on Nov. 16, thanks to a $10,000 grant from the OceanFirst Foundation.

The students and their program advisor, George S. Anthony, an educator at Mater Dei Prep and a United Nations representative for Pathways to Peace, presented their Education Tool Kit, developed with the use of MediaScape technology purchased with the grant money, to representatives from OceanFirst, including Katherine Durante, executive director of the foundation, and Pat Zilly, Middletown OceanFirst Bank branch manager.

Mater Dei Prep Board of Trustees member Ellen Poole and Head of School John A. Anderson both attended the ribbon cutting and thanked OceanFirst for their generous assistance in support of Mater Dei Prep and the Emerging Global Leaders program.

“We are so proud of the work our students and Mr. Anthony are doing,” said Poole, “which is made possible by this generous grant.”

The Emerging Global Leaders program provides intensive training in effective communication, peer mediation, community building, conflict resolution and global perspectives. Students in the program attend conferences at the UN and work with nongovernmental organizations (NGO) like Pathways to Peace through the UN’s Department of Public Information. 

Senior Katelyn Grano is already a UN ECOSOC Youth Representative and recently received certification in UNITAR Diplomatic Training “Conflict Resolution As Weapon Against Poverty" co-sponsored by Columbia Law School. Delegates from Ghana, Columbia and Nigeria were all in attendance. She also helped develop the program’s Education Tool Kit which provides lessons and support for refugee students whose education has been disrupted due to conflicts or natural disasters.

Sophomore Elizabeth Sheridan stressed the importance of the Emerging Global Leaders program in her education, explaining that, while traditional subjects like math and science are important, “we are learning how to live through this program and the world will be a better place because of that.”

The students are using MediaScape, a technology table that can seat up to six students at a time allowing them to virtually chat with other students and partners from around the world seamlessly as a team, to promote the Education Tool Kit. “MediaScape helps us get the word out throughout the world,” explained Anthony.

Anthony, who serves as co-chair for the UN NGO International Day of Peace: Education Peace Team, and the students showed how they have used the digital learning technology to promote the kit both locally and globally by creating a website and producing both digital and printed promotional materials. While the students often go to the UN, they can use the technology to attend conferences remotely and train in leadership skills and conflict resolution. In the future, Mater Dei Prep plans to use MediaScape to teach refugees directly from the Emerging Global Leaders classroom.

“It’s amazing to be a part of something greater than yourself,” said Karen Nortz, a sophomore in the program.

The students’ work on the Education Tool Kit supports the UN NGOs’ 15-year plan for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In 2015, more than 190 world leaders committed to 17 SDGs to help the world end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and address climate change. Students in the Emerging Global Leaders program focus mainly on three of the SDGs: number four – Quality Education; number 16 – Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions; and number 17 – Partnerships for the Goals, explained Anthony.

The partnerships with OceanFirst and other organizations, like the Seastreak Ferry, which ensures transportation for Mater Dei Prep students to the UN, are what make their work possible, said Anthony.

OceanFirst Foundation was created in 1996 with a one-time endowment of $13.4 million approved by OceanFirst Bank depositors. The foundation offers grants to organizations throughout central New Jersey. Since its inception, the foundation has provided more the $27 million in grants to hundreds of local charities and schools.

The 2016 Model Classroom Grant was one of 15 awarded to elementary, middle and high schools from Monmouth and Ocean counties out of 86 applicants. Mater Dei Prep’s grant proposal was written by Nikki Tierney (MD ’90), a Rutgers Law School graduate and mother of four – including triplets who are currently seniors at Mater Dei Prep – and Catherine Cunning, a professional grant writer and friend of Mater Dei Prep.

Durante, executive director of the foundation, commented on how unique the program is among the grant recipients and thanked the students for the presentation. “It is amazing to see young people championing good things,” she said, “and hopefully making a difference in the world.”

For more information about the Emerging Global Leaders program, please contact Mr. George Anthony at ganthony@materdeiprep.org or visit materdeiprep.org.
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