Kelly “Elevated the Institution’s Aspirations” for Global Ed

Kelly “Elevated the Institution’s Aspirations” for Global Ed
  • One World
Stacy Calfo

The growth of global programming during Kelly’s tenure has shaped the experiences of students, families and the entire Ravenscroft community — and made the school a leader in global education.

In the ever-evolving landscape of education, schools that prioritize global perspectives are pioneers in preparing students for an interconnected world.

Under the leadership of Head of School Doreen Kelly, Ravenscroft has not only recognized this need but also transformed its global education initiative into a hallmark program for the school. The growth of the school’s global programming during her 21-year tenure has left an indelible mark, shaping the experiences of students, families and the entire Ravenscroft community.

“Doreen’s legacy is multifaceted,” Kristin Replogle, an alumni parent and former trustee, said. “She significantly elevated the institution’s aspirations, encouraging it to dream beyond being just a Southeastern school and truly become a global leader.”

“She was always mission-aligned”

As with many other strategic priorities Kelly has identified during her time here, she moved quickly to support the work of faculty who were helping students explore global issues and connections.

In 2003, Kelly’s first year as Head of School, Upper School teacher David Kates had just moved into the newly established role of Director of International Education, at a time when there was not yet a dedicated department. With Kelly’s support and collaboration, over the next few years Kates laid the foundation for today’s comprehensive and influential global education program.

The school’s programming in what would become the Global Education Department expanded rapidly, transforming from one international experience in Spoleto, Italy, to exchanges and programs in countries including China, Spain, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Zambia, France and England. The department became a leader in the global education space, a testament to Kelly’s forward-thinking approach and trust in her team.

History teacher Mary Beth Immediata joins Gabrielle Rhoades ’13, Bella Kron ’13, Jackson Poon ’14, Rosie Waring ’14 and Calley Mangum ’13 for the 2012 Spoleto Summer Study Abroad program, one of Ravenscroft’s longest-running travel and enrichment opportunities for students; Director of International Education David Kates visits the Kasisi Children’s Home in Zambia with students in 2015.

“She allowed us to have autonomy. If I wanted to have a global event on campus, she allowed it to happen. She never asked ‘why,’ she asked ‘how.’ She was always mission-aligned and never veered from that,” Kates said of his 17 years leading the program. “She supported the department in every way, including finding ways to help students who couldn’t afford to travel in our study abroad program.”

In the years since, curricular offerings supporting global education have grown to include courses in media, debate and diplomacy, and translation and technology — and the International Diploma, a rigorous framework that includes both curricular and extracurricular requirements and a capstone project, is more popular than ever.

The program’s impact is clear, as exemplified by the success stories of Ravenscroft alumni like Courtney Rea ’19, who recently graduated from Trinity College Dublin in Ireland with a degree in political science. Rea attributes her passion for global studies to Ravenscroft’s commitment to fostering a globally focused education.

“By participating in the International Diploma, I was able to build on my existing interest in global education,” she said. “Consequently, when applying to both U.S. and international schools, I positioned myself as an international student, both literally and educationally.”

This graphic story from the Spring 2015 Ravenscroft Magazine details the many ways the school’s work in global education is making an impact on students.

From Lead From Here to “lead from anywhere”

As the impact of students’ global engagement became more evident, philanthropic support from families helped make it possible for Ravenscroft to realize the full potential of a global mindset in our community.

Kristin Replogle and her husband, John — parents of Tate ’14, Grace ’15, Sarah ’19 and Emerson ’21 — were instrumental in supporting Kelly’s vision.

Anna Pugh ’17 poses with students at the Uyoba School in Mfuwe, Zambia, in 2016.

“Doreen posed a question to the board: How can Ravenscroft be a preeminent independent school in the world, not just the Southeast? A key element of this was global experience,” John Replogle, who also served as a trustee, remembered. “Kristin and I recognized in that moment that we had the capacity to help the school realize this vision.” Their creation of the Global Experience Fund in 2016 provides financial support for global programs and ensures more students can participate.

Kristin Replogle cited Kelly’s purposeful alignment of the program’s goals with the school’s signature leadership development framework, Lead From Here, as key to its impact.

“Doreen often asked: ‘How does Lead From Here relate globally?’ And she answered, ‘Lead from anywhere,’” she recalled. “She was adamant about developing globally minded students, and, in my opinion, the only way we are going to raise kids who are culturally competent and globally aware is to expose them to those experiences.”

As part of the department’s reciprocal hosting program, Upper School students share the sights of Washington, D.C., with Spanish exchange students in the 2014-15 school year; and, in Spain, Emerson Burkhardt ’16 (at left) and her host tour the Segovia aqueduct during a group trip in 2016.

This global focus has broadened to include families as well. In 2016, parent Gail Kansler founded Global Parent Ambassadors to welcome and support Ravenscroft’s growing international community. Inspired by the desire to welcome and assist newcomers in navigating the school and community, the parent-led GPA has quickly grown into a powerful force for inclusivity. Kansler credits Kelly’s partnership in helping the group find its focus.

“From the initial scope, Doreen led the way,” Kansler said. “She didn’t hesitate to meet with families during the planning stages. She always showed up and guided us with planning, goals, mission statements. She led our direction.”

This work is funded by the Global Parent Ambassadors Endowment, which Gail and Mike Kansler and their daughter, Alexandra ’17, established to support global engagement and enrichment programs that build community and student learning.

Today, GPA’s focus on inclusivity and connection among parents is yet another powerful reason why families choose Ravenscroft. “Folks tell us this is where they met their true friends,” Kansler said.

Kates, Director of Enrollment Management Margaret Mills ’76 and Kelly (at right in back of group) host a delegation of educators from Saudi Arabia as part of a program through International Focus in the 2017-18 school year; parent Taufika Islam Williams shares her Bangladeshi heritage at the 2023 Cultural Festival, which was supported in part by the parent-run GPA.

“A foundational part of what we are doing here”

Inspired by these successes, faculty and school leadership have continued to envision how Ravenscroft can lead the way in cultivating global citizens.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, when travel programs were put on hold, Global Education took another giant leap forward. Instead of planning to rush back into international travel when conditions improved, now-Director of Global Education Melanie Spransy undertook what proved to be an inspired reevaluation.

Reflecting the program’s deepening focus on service, Middle School students spend part of their 2017 trip to Costa Rica building a chicken coop and planting a garden for their hosts; Nydia Davis ’25, Katie McClurkan ’25 and Zora Mourning ’24 model an engineering challenge with students at the DREAM Center in Cabarete, Dominican Republic, during a service-oriented trip in 2023.

“I wanted our program to be more than travel. I wanted us to incorporate it into classrooms and make it more of a foundational part of what we are doing here,” Spransy explained. The result is a department whose work shapes and inspires classroom experiences in all three divisions, is explicitly aligned with Lead From Here and curricular goals, and incorporates intercultural dialogue and service.

“Leadership completely supported this shift,” Spransy added. “This is a result of Doreen being so good at long-term vision. She never pushes for a short-term solution that might compromise the success of a long-term program.”

International Diploma Coordinator Erin Kate Grady and Director of Global Education Melanie Spransy attend the 2023 Cultural Festival, which the department oversaw; Honors Digital Media for Global Learning student Laurel Carter ’23 gives a presentation on the conditions of nonprofit schools in Mumbai in this image from the Spring 2021 Ravenscroft Magazine.

Kelly’s vision for Global Education — of growing Lead From Here to “lead from anywhere” — has been crucial in shaping Ravenscroft students into culturally competent and globally aware individuals.

“Through my participation in the International Diploma program and taking globally focused courses such as World History, AP European History, AP Environmental Science and Global Issues, I have recontextualized myself as a citizen of the world with a responsibility for the stewardship of its resources and people,” Davis Anderson ’22 wrote of her experiences at Ravenscroft. “Particularly as an advocate for climate justice, having an international perspective has been crucial in ensuring that I am working to create a more equitable and sustainable world for all.”

For Rea, too, this connection has been powerful. “Lead From Here significantly influenced my understanding of leadership,” she said, “particularly the importance of respecting diverse opinions in our increasingly globalized world.”

Students and their families, faculty, staff and guests celebrate the many cultures that make up Ravenscroft’s school community during performances at the 2023 Cultural Festival.

Above, Ravens tour the Museum of Chinese in America — here, a display including a lion used in traditional Chinese celebrations — in Manhattan’s Chinatown as part of a 2023 trip to learn about Chinese culture and history in New York City.

Class of 2022 International Diploma recipients Rachel Mason ’22, Davis Anderson ’22, Mavi Sandhu ’22 and Deya Singh ’22.


Ravens Share Traditions, Celebrate Heritage at Cultural Festival (April 20, 2023)

Programs Emphasize Student Leadership and Global Citizenship (Oct. 30, 2020)

We Go, We Listen, We Learn (Spring 2018)

International Diploma Sets a Global Stage for Graduates (Summer 2017)

Nine Suitcases (Summer 2014)