Rural Newcomb (NY) School Recruits Int’l Students

Source: Edweek, Feb 2013

Hults, 57, came up with a different idea after talking with his brother, who lives in Australia: What if he recruited international high school students to his district? That was a major industry in Australia and other countries. Why wouldn’t it work in his rural school?

Since that epiphany, Hults has transformed the school, nearly doubling its enrollment to 105 and hosting 60 students over five years from 25 countries, including Serbia, China, Brazil, and Zimbabwe.

Recruiting tuition-paying international students has saved the school by bolstering its finances and population, and it’s changed its culture by exposing Newcomb students to diverse heritages and languages. It’s also redefined the meaning of “family” to the many residents who have hosted visiting international students.

In its high school grades, the school has about 40 students; 18 are from other countries. That’s a significant number, given that the town has only about 200 families.

“We’ve gotten to the point where we’re turning students away,” Hults says.

The district requires students to have a conversational level of English-speaking proficiency to ensure they can succeed. Any lesser ability would negatively affect the classroom experience for local students, Hults says.

“If it weren’t benefiting our students, I wouldn’t do this program,” Hults explains. “It truly does benefit our students. It has opened their eyes. It has given them broad exposure to the world, and for the kids who come here, they remain a part of our community. I think they will forever.”

International students pay $4,500 annual tuition to attend the school, as well as a $4,500 housing allowance to the local families who host them. District officials receive application packets with photos and information about prospective students, and they choose whom they want.

Related Readings:

NYTimes, Jun 2011

“Nobody is doing what Skip is doing,” said Carl Springer, an American in Thailand whose agency, Asiamerica, places 600 foreign high school students a year in the United States — mostly at private schools. “Newcomb is one of the most affordable,” he said in an interview via Skype. “A typical private school is $25,000.”

Newcomb information PDF, date indeterminate


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