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Inspiring changemaking: Interview with Mentor Tom Stewart

By Raquel Armendariz Sucunza, Global Schools Project Lead (Communications)

Mentors from the Global Schools Program (GSP) are well-equipped to train, inspire and support Advocates of our program. Through monthly meetings, Mentors can guide their mentees to implement the best practices on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). Specifically, Tom Stewart, from the USA, has taken this role as a chance to get to know some of our newest advocates and advise them on how to start this new journey.

Interview with Tom Stewart

Tom Stewart has been working in independent education for nearly 40 years. During that time, he has been a classroom teacher and a senior administrator focusing on curriculum design and management. Currently, Tom teaches ethics, global citizenship, and an introductory course on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Several years ago, he was part of a team that designed an ambitious capstone project centered on the SDGs, a project now entering its eighth year. He is currently Indian Mountain School’s first Director of Sustainability Programming and Initiatives. Tom is the founder and director of Coalition 2030, an organization designed to facilitate schools' work to align their mission, curriculum, and infrastructure with the principles behind the SDGs.

Tom has an undergraduate degree from Hamilton College and a MA in private school leadership from the Klingenstein Center of Teachers College, Columbia University. He was in the second cohort of the Global Schools Advocate program and currently serves as a Mentor in the same. He also acts as an advisor for the international Solutionary SDG Pilot Project being developed by the Institute for Humane Education.

Tell us more about your Mentoring role and what it means to you.

The Global Schools Mentoring role has allowed me to continue to connect with like-minded educators from around the world, people that have a forward vision for education, and see the next generation as being vital to creating a more sustainable world. I feel that an important part of the mentor role is helping make those connections for others.

What are some challenges that may arise, and how can you overcome them?

Finding time to meet is a significant challenge. We all have such busy jobs and busy lives that finding common times to gather isn’t easy. Recognizing that communications don’t always need to be long and involved and that short exchanges can also accomplish a lot is important.

What achievements are you most proud of?

I am happy that I was able to facilitate some mentee involvement in an SDG-based curricular development pilot program run by the Institute for Humane Education.

How and where do you find inspiration for your SDGs-related activities/work as a GS advocate and Mentor?

I am particularly inspired by my students. While it is challenging to ask young people to think about a future that could be bleak, more often than not, they find the promise that that future holds and are able to see paths forward that are not always apparent or obvious. Being able to say that I might be able to play some role in that for them definitely keep me going.

What is one thing you wish to tell current and future Global Schools advocates?

Take advantage of every workshop, webinar, and course offering that you can. Even if it might not be of particular interest to you, you will likely learn something that you can pass on to colleagues or come across a program or idea that others at your school or in the teacher network might use.

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