A brand-new school year brings new friends, new responsibilities, and for Gary Stollar, a new job. Stollar was appointed as the international programs director, a position created this year to provide a liaison between international students and their families.
“My job is to be [international students’] advocate and to ensure that they have a smooth transition into our community,” Stollar said.
To achieve this and to get to know international students better, Stollar regularly attends boarding events such as orientation and the boarder family picnic.
His other primary role is to work closely with Director of Diversity and Inclusion Tresa Wilson to create new travel and foreign exchange programs.
Stollar envisions Hockaday as a leader in global education, making travel programming as a direct extension of what students learn in the classroom.
In contrast to trips taken solely for sightseeing and language learning purposes, global education entails a cross-curricular educational experience in another country. For example, a student would learn about Russian advancements in science and Shostakovich’s music while in Russia.
Stollar takes the same stance when it comes to foreign exchange programs.
“We are trying to truly establish long term relationships with schools around the world that have a similar vision as Hockaday,” Stollar said.
To put together this programming, Stollar plans to gather information from students and faculty through surveys and small and large group conversations.
“We want to utilize everything we can to inform ourselves and put together meaningful programming,” Stollar said.
But Stollar’s work does not end in the boarding and diversity departments. He also teaches eighth graders enrolled in the ESOL United States History class.
He cherishes the time that he spends with his students and particularly appreciates the unique perspective that each girl brings to his class.
“To see the United States through the eyes of students with different backgrounds is so energizing,” Stollar said. “I gain new perspectives on American history through them.”
Students in his U.S. History class have also gained much from the rich and varied experiences that Stollar brings to the table – everything from international student recruiting in Japan to advising Model U.N. clubs.
Eighth grader Lynn Jung enjoys Stollar’s teaching style, which incorporates “a lot of discussion with peers” and enables girls to “share ideas and learn things about different cultures.”
Jung said that Stollar made an extra effort to learn about the backgrounds of his students.
“He tries to accept his students’ opinions, and because of that, I think that he has a very important role in the school,” Jung said.
Stollar fully appreciates the uniqueness of the opportunity he has been given.
“This is a forward thinking and forward looking position that the administration has created. It is going to keep Hockaday on leading edge of independent schools,” Stollar said.