April 2005

Partnership Will Send Education Faculty to Jordan

"...In the three decades since its founding, the Baptist School of Amman has become one of the best schools in Jordan. Its 100 teachers serve 1,200 K-12 students, 95 percent of whom will go on to college in Jordan or abroad..."

Principal Suha Jouaneh Shahin


Samford and the Baptist School of Amman, Jordan, have signed a three-year agreement creating an Optimum Learning Certificate Program that will provide professional development for the Jordanian school's teachers and administrators and give Samford education faculty access to the school's classrooms.

Beginning in Fall 2005, one Samford education professor will spend ten days each semester in Jordan introducing the Baptist

School's 100 faculty members and administrators to the best U.S. educational methodologies, practices and leadership skills.

Jean Ann Box, acting dean of Samford's award-winning Orlean Bullard Beeson School of Education and Professional Studies, said Samford's faculty will benefit both from clinical classroom experience in a different culture and from working with their Jordanian colleagues, oftentimes in the same setting. "The distinctive approach of this partnership is that professional development for teachers and administrators takes place in the classroom and school while the lessons and work are being conducted," said Box.

Although it may seem a politically inopportune time to create an American-Arab partnership between Christian institutions in a majority Muslim country, Baptist School Principal Suha Jouaneh Shahin said the school's minority religious affiliation has drawn no unwanted attention from anti-Western forces. In fact, Shahin said, approximately 35 percent of the school's 1,200 K-12 students are Muslim and many students are the children of Jordanian government officials. Some may follow their parents into a government that generally welcomes Western ideas, favors the young and which, since 2004, includes four women ministers.

Shahin said Muslim students attend the 30-year-old Baptist School for the same reason non-Muslims attend--for the promise of an education broader than that offered by Jordan's public schools. In addition to the national curriculum, the Baptist School offers a vocational curriculum in Hotel Management, a British-designed international curriculum and courses in French, English, science in English and math in English. Approximately 95 percent of the Baptist School's students go on to college in Jordan or abroad, Shahin said.

Shahin visited the U.S. for the first time in March to finalize plans for the partnership, which began with a conversation between Samford president Thomas E. Corts and a member of the Baptist School's board of directors. That conversation led Samford to explore partnership opportunities in both Lebanon and Jordan, with John Harris, Samford's director of special projects, orchestrating the efforts.

While attending a leadership conference sponsored by Jordan's Private School Council, Harris described the mutually beneficial relationship between Samford's School of Education and Alabama schools. Shahin asked Harris if a similar relationship might be arranged between Samford and the Baptist School. "Our school would be like an overseas daughter to Samford," she suggested. That idea was well received and the partnership quickly took root. Samford alumnus Brian Barlow '81 (B.A.) and '83 (M.B.A.), general director of the Baptist School, also helped the schools unite.

A conference in 2008 will provide an opportunity for the partners to reflect on the program's value and determine whether or not it should be continued.

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Join Samford Alumni and Friends on a trip of a lifetime to England this summer!

July 29-August 7, 2005

The date to register for Samford's Birmingham to Birmingham Baptist Heritage Tour has been extended until April 20, 2005. Visit the website or call Billy Ivey, (205)-726-2483 for an itinerary and trip details.