By Donna Parker
Shari Albright ’83 has a vision – to prepare young people to become global citizens. Her mission is simple, but her title lengthy – chief officer of the International Studies School Network. Even the explanation is a bit daunting. She oversees the nationwide network of small, internationally-focused secondary schools in urban, underserved communities funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and is part of the North East Independent School District Special Projects for the Asia Society.
Laughingly, she sums it up in one compact sentence, “These schools are about opening the world up and preparing the students for the 21st century through a global lens.”
Shari believes her career route, as is the case with many women, did not follow a linear trajectory, but rather provided building blocks to this particular juncture.
“I’ve had an immensely rich life where my careers have built upon each other. I’m continually building upon past experiences and I’ve loved every piece of it!”
About 80 percent of Shari’s time is spent in New York City, where she conducts leadership training for school principals plus oversees the network of coaches who help implement this model of study.
“Although we are highly committed to supporting state standards, a course in U.S. history, for example, may take an immigrant’s perspective and view seminal events in our country’s history through the eyes of other cultures involved.”
Even her community outreach shares this common theme, as Shari serves on the Board of World Affairs Council and the City Year of San Antonio, a sort of domestic Peace Corps that sets up paid internships for 18- to 22-year-olds to provide a year of service to their community.
“Trinity set me up for community service and in fact, honed my leadership skills. The relationships I developed with professors such as Bruce Chamberlain, department of education, and the school’s broad-based education helped lay the foundation for my life path. John Moore, department of education, my advisor and mentor, nurtured my love of education and encouraged me to set goals I might never have dreamt of achieving, including earning my doctoral degree at Columbia University and returning to Trinity to join the faculty as an adjunct professor.”
When she’s not hard at work training and traveling, Shari does enjoy singing – formerly in her church choir with her husband Robert ’84, who was her duet partner in the Trinity music program – and spending time outside with their two black Labradors. She occasionally heads south to the clear waters off the shores of Mexico to scuba dive.
But clearly, her heart is in her work.
“The work I’m doing right now makes me feel I’m really making a difference on a broad scale determining a model for the 21st century of schooling. I hope it has a major impact and sets a broad policy model for high schools across the country.”