At Eduflack, we spent A LOT of time talking about the education continuum. How do we ensure that the educational pathways we are offering today’s students will lead to tomorrow’s jobs? What do we do in middle school to bolster one’s chances of graduating from high school? What do we do in high school to show more students they are capable of college-level work? How do we ensure that virtually all students are equipped with the postsecondary learning necessary to secure a good job in our 21st century economy?
Along the way, we talk about a great number of issues, including dual enrollment, early college, 21st century skills, and STEM education. We look at programs like IB and AP. We even try to advocate for stronger measurements and greater accountability to ensure that our students are gaining the skills and knowledge they need to compete, regardless of their race, socioeconomic status, or Zip code.
During the past year, Eduflack has developed an online relationship with a voice bringing a vastly different opinion to the discussion on the P-16 continuum. I’ve found her ideas interesting, but not nearly as fascinating as the personal narrative. For those who don’t know Maya Frost, you have to first learn the family story. Back in 2005, Maya and her husband decided it was time for a change. Both were working good jobs, but they weren’t breaking six figures in combined income. They seemed tired of the rat race and yearned for something a little different. So they “decided to sell everything and move abroad.” Nothing altogether strange about that. From time to time, even Eduflack has considered just dropping all of this, moving the Grand Cayman Island, and opening up a gourmet cupcake shop for natives and tourists alike.
The catch here is that Maya had four teenage daughters at the time. For most of us, that would be the roadblock to prevent the “dream.” What about school? What about the SATs and getting ready for college? How do you navigate college visits? What about the prom? All logical questions from naysayers like me. But it didn’t stop the Frosts. They picked up an moved to South America anyway, seeing it as a family adventure. And the resultant story is a fascinating one.
This month, Three River Press released Maya’s book about the process — “The New Global Student: Skip the SAT, Save Thousands on Tuition, and Get a Truly International Education.” The book is an incredible read, providing great stories, good guidance, and a different view on how we really prepare our kids for the future. Maya has gone with the tagline “Good-bye Old School, Hello Bold School,” and when you read her story, you understand how appropriate the line is for her story and her recommendations.
But what about those poor four Frost girls, the ones ripped from their cozy American high schools and forced into a South American world of intrigue, new experiences, and the great unknown? They have managed to get by. The oldest graduated from college at 19 and has worked for the Gates Foundation and as a health educator. At 22, she’s wrapping up her master’s in public health while working at a community health clinic in Harlem. Daughter two has studied in numerous countries, earned her BA in the United States at the age of 20 and is working at two internships in the communications field (yeah!). Daughter three used a number of learning opportunities, including private tutors and lessons, and will earn a dual major bachelor’s degree at the age of 19. Daughter four never actually attended high school, but has used her learning experiences to earn a scholarship, a teaching assistantship, and two years of college credit at a NY IHE, and she is just 17 years old.
Few of us would ever have the, er, stomach to do the sort of thing that Maya and her family did. But in reading The New Global Student, one can see how it is possible if one really wants to. It doesn’t take a trust fund. It doesn’t take a network of experts and tutors to guide you along the way. It doesn’t require friends in high places to make sure you can “explain the situation” to American universities. It just takes a little work, flexibility, exploration, and a whole lot of embracing of the unknown. It also take an unbending positive attitude, of which Maya is a textbook definition.
Such options are hardly for anyone. In fact, I would say it takes a very special family to be able to do what the Frosts did and do it as well as they did. And I am thrilled it has been particularly successful for the four girls. Whether it is the unworn path you truly seek or are justing looking for a new perspective on the silliness of helicopter parents, violin lessons for first graders, and hyper-competitiveness for slots in NYC preschools, The New Global Student is worth a read. It provides an interesting perspective on what parents can do to provide their children learning opportunities, particularly beyond the confines of the walls of the traditional red brick schoolhouse.