Family’s 2016 Gift Elevates Global Experiences at Ravenscroft

  • One World
Family’s 2016 Gift Elevates Global Experiences at Ravenscroft
David Klein

Inspired by a desire to help students get “out of their comfort zone,” John and Kristin Replogles’ 2016 endowment makes travel and service programs more accessible.

John and Kristin Replogle were deep in the Amazon jungle with their four daughters when the youngest, Emerson ’21, then 8, spotted a tarantula on the wall of their hut. She screamed, and a fellow traveler rushed in to see what had happened.

 

The Replogles — John, Emerson ’21, Tate ’14, Kristin, Sarah ’19 and Grace ’15 — prepare to head into the Amazon.

This may not sound like the beginning of a story about how a love of travel and exploration was the inspiration for the family’s endowment fund that supports global programs at Ravenscroft. But, in this case, what could have been a disaster ended up being formative.

The fellow traveler, a scientist, quickly declared that Emerson, as the first person in the room to spot the spider, would certainly grow up to be a scientist, too. Wiping away tears, back straightening with pride, she declared she’d “won the tarantula prize.” And from then on, a sense of both adventure and acceptance set the tone for the trip — even through monkey bites and close encounters with coral snakes and not so much as a lounge chair in sight.

“We wanted the girls to be out of their comfort zone,” Kristin Replogle said of the experience. “To adapt, to know another culture away from modern conveniences. And to be together!”

The Replogle family: John and Kristin (at back) with Grace ’15, Emerson ’21, Sarah ’19 and Tate ’14


The power of global education

The experiential learning that came with this and other family trips was nothing short of transformative, and each of the Replogle children has gone on to build on their individual global interests. Tate ’14 has been a Peace Corps volunteer in Albania and earned a master’s degree in global education from American University. While a student at Dartmouth College, Grace ’15 lived in New Zealand with Maori, the nation’s indigenous people. Today, Sarah ’19 and Emerson ’21 are both active in global programs at Dartmouth.

John and Kristin — shaped by their own experience living and traveling abroad and belief that global skills are required in this interconnected world — are passionate about the learning that results when people move beyond their comfort level.

“Leadership is most critical when you’re outside your comfort zone,” John Replogle said. “And building that kind of cultural awareness and growth mindset is essential. It’s what’s going to be required of our children in the 21st century, given the incredible interconnectedness of the globe today.”

John and Kristin have dedicated themselves to enabling others to partake in the same transformative experience. Early on, they supported Ravenscroft’s China Exchange program and enlisted others in the school community to get involved. In their roles as Ravenscroft trustees, they brought their international focus to the formation of Lead From Here, Ravenscroft’s citizen leadership framework.

Undergirding these programs, they said, is the idea that — to make an impact as leaders — students must be passionate, engaged and keenly focused on getting to know their world.

“My wife and I are big believers in the power of global education,” John added. “As you think about Lead From Here, we wanted to make it a call to lead from anywhere. We live in a wonderful environment in Raleigh, but Raleigh doesn’t represent the world, and if you’re going to flourish as a leader you have to have global cultural experience as a part of that foundation.” 

From the Amazon to the Antarctic, the Replogles have made developing a global mindset and a willingness to go beyond their comfort zone a family tradition.


The Global Experience Fund

Realizing international travel experiences weren’t necessarily affordable for all interested students in the Ravenscroft community, in 2016 they established The Replogle Family Global Experience Fund. Income from the endowment has been used to support global programs and provide need-based funding to ensure more students can take part in the school’s robust offerings.

“We wanted students at Ravenscroft to have the same access and ability to get to know another culture. We truly feel like it’s our duty to pay it forward,” Kristin said. “It’s part of the reason we are here as human beings. We can, and we get to, change someone’s life, help them a little bit.”

Upper School World History teacher and Director of Global Education Melanie Spransy echoed these sentiments, noting that sometimes the greatest growth occurs outside the traditional classroom.

Ravenscroft travel programs from Belize (2019) to Iceland (2019) have helped inspire students to broaden their worldview and embrace new experiences and cultures. 


“Young people can only develop an awareness of their own cultures by leaving their comfort zones and experiencing different ways of life first-hand. Once a global experience opens their eyes, they cannot close them again,” she said. “This shift in perspective is what global education at Ravenscroft is all about.”

With travel programs currently on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Spransy shared that Ravenscroft is taking advantage of “virtual exchanges” to keep students engaged with their counterparts around the globe.

“For example, my Global Issues class has partnered with a class in Monterrey, Mexico, for the semester, and my students are building connections with young people outside of the country via Zoom. This strategy not only increases the learning outcomes in my course but also allows for increased accessibility to global programs,” she said. “We will carry forth the Replogles’ mission by connecting Ravenscroft students with different communities around the world, with or without travel.”

As the pandemic has further emphasized how interconnected our world is, it’s clear that the growth and awareness that come from such experiences is more important than ever.

“We have a generation who will grow up to face global challenges that are unprecedented,” John concluded. “They’re going to need to collaborate across borders to solve these issues. … We can’t revert in. We have to actually look out and hold hands to solve the real issues of the world.”

Upper School Ravens, chaperoned by then-Middle School teacher Wes Brown (at left), and their hosts enjoy sightseeing near Madrid University as part of the 2015 Spanish Exchange Program.


“To learn without borders”

Global programs provide many students with meaningful experiences to explore new places and experience new cultures. We asked three recent graduates who are attending universities overseas how their involvement in these programs at Ravenscroft shaped their decisions.

 

Courtney Rea ’19

Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland


Where did you travel while you were at Ravenscroft?

I traveled to France with Ravenscroft for my international diploma requirement. I also traveled to Oregon twice to run Hood to Coast with the Ravens in the Hood.

What experiences stand out from your travels? Which were the most transformative?

When I went to France with Ravenscroft, we went with a focus on the political, social and historical aspects of Paris specifically. I remember we went to visit a reform Jewish temple which was hidden underneath a large shipping building far from the city center, as they were completely ostracized from society. I found that trip to be very interesting, because it allowed me to have a deeper understanding and prompted me to not just visit new places but fully immerse myself. 

A trip that I would say was the most transformative was my trip to Ireland for my first year of college. I had never visited the school before actually moving there for college, and that appeared to be a risky decision to some. However, I felt that fully throwing myself into a new place entirely truly helped me grow as a person. 

How did these experiences affect your subsequent educational journey?

Being a student with a prior international background, and actually enrolling in Ravenscroft’s international diploma program, really impacted my educational journey positively. Going through high school not only having the privilege to travel around the globe, but to actually study it, has made me into the globally and interculturally competent person I am today. Taking the leap to go to school internationally always felt like an option to me, but it was clear to me, after being involved with Ravenscroft’s international courses, that it was the best decision for me.

 

Mark Naslund ’21

King’s College London, London, England


Where did you travel while you were at Ravenscroft?

I was a part of Ravenscroft’s trips to Italy, Croatia and Slovenia through Education First, which was during the summer of 2017, and I also attended the Fine Arts trip to London in the winter of 2018. Both of these programs influenced my decision to attend King’s College London, especially the London trip, as we frequently visited the areas in London that I now live and go to school in.

What experiences stand out from your travels? Which were the most transformative?

The moments that stand out most from my global experiences at Ravenscroft are the opportunities I had to connect with students from all across the world that broadened my horizons and world view. During my trip to Italy, Slovenia, and Croatia in the summer of 2017, I had the opportunity to attend a global summit on food sustainability and the future of agriculture. What struck me most about the summit, besides of course the fantastic speakers like the late Anthony Bourdain and the author Raj Patel, was how many students came from schools outside of the United States. While it seems somewhat strange to expect that the majority of attendees at a conference in Italy would be American, I simply had no idea how many students not only attended school outside the U.S. but were as ambitious and educated as anyone I had met at Ravenscroft. I came out of this trip with the idea that not only was a quality education possible outside of the United States, but that a key factor of a modern education is a global experience. Oftentimes, as an American, it can be very easy to fall into a narrow-minded view of the inferiority of the rest of the world; but this opportunity to learn without borders allowed me to gain a forward-thinking global view — which is perhaps the most valuable thing I learned at Ravenscroft.

How did these experiences affect your subsequent educational journey?

My participation in the Winter 2018 Fine Arts trip to London was also very significant in guiding me in my subsequent educational journey. This trip was hugely impactful in my decision to pursue university in the United Kingdom. I was able to get an understanding of what a truly global city London is and also the opportunities to attend world-class universities in a foreign country. While exploring London on this trip, I actually found myself on the Strand Campus of King’s College London where I am now a student and was struck at how diverse and global the King’s community was. This Fine Arts trip was truly one of the most impactful moments for me at Ravenscroft and showed me how vital global experiences are in the pursuit of a modern education. I simply would not be where I am today if it were not for this trip and the global opportunities I had at Ravenscroft.

 

Arden Henley ’21

University of St Andrews, Edinburgh, Scotland


Where did you travel while you were at Ravenscroft?

In my junior year at Ravenscroft, I participated in the global exchange program to Spain.

What experiences stand out from your travels?

I had wanted to study in the UK for some time before that trip, but that exchange program definitely solidified my desire to live and study abroad for an extended period of time. It also gave me some awareness of what living in a foreign country is like and taught me how quickly I needed to adjust to any cultural shifts that would affect me on a day-to-day basis.

How did these experiences affect your subsequent educational journey?

I’m currently in my first year at St. Andrews. In essence, Ravenscroft’s exchange program was a sort of trial run for what it would be like to actually live abroad, not just visit as a tourist, and it gave me the knowledge that I was not only capable of living abroad for an extended period, but that I would thoroughly enjoy it as well.