Busting Boundaries

Kristopher Hupp

Cornell School District
2014 Winner for Busting Boundaries Award
About Busting Boundaries Award

Inspires students to work in-person or virtually with peers in different geographic or cultural communities.

Provide an overview of the project, practice or product that your video represents, and how your work encompasses the principles and ideals of the award that you're applying for.

Kris Hupp has been a boon to the transformation of our global education outreach—from simple delivery of programs to robust collaboration with partnering schools in Pittsburgh and around the world,” Amiena Mahsoob, Director of Education Programs, World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh.

Over the last four years, students at Cornell High School have had the unique opportunity to Bust Boundaries and work with their international peers through videoconferencing programs with the support of the World Affairs Council such as International Student Summits, Hot Seat events, and International Youth Forum programs.

The International Student Summit on Cybersecurity and Civil Liberties enabled students to hear from experts on cyber issues as well as collaborate with their peers in Taiwan on a simulation involving an international cyberattack. This made news of the Stuxnet virus, which broke only days later, all the more real.

The International Youth Forum is a series of videoconference-based conversations with a cohort of students from around the globe. Topics are selected by the students. What I found so interesting was watching my students talk with their peers internationally about something rather broad, such as education or human rights, and realizing that they have many more common attributes than differences.

One of the sessions that stood out most to me covered the topic of Human Rights. Students in a South African school presented about the rights of women and human trafficking. Following the discussion, my students began exploring the issue of human trafficking in our own region and were shocked to find it is widespread in the United States. This led to a complex discussion of who is responsible for putting an end to human trafficking. Ultimately, my students agreed that although they could try to point the finger at criminals or government, in the end, we are all culpable.

Explain the long-lasting impact of what you've presented in this video, and provide any qualitative or quantitative data that supports this impact.

"Kris Hupp’s work has fundamentally changed the culture of Cornell School District and surrounding communities,” Aaron Thomas, Cornell Superintendent.

Cornell serves a former mill town with nearly 70% of students receiving free and reduced lunch. Students and community members alike have been socioeconomically and socially isolated from the Greater Pittsburgh region and the world. Through our work over the past four years, our students have become more globally and culturally competent. They understand that an action in one part of the world can have dramatic impacts on the rest of the world. They have also learned that they have more in common with their international peers than they realized. All children regardless of their nationality, socio-economic background, religion, and culture want—and deserve—a bright future where they can obtain a good education, career and build a bright future. This has had a ripple effect among the families in the community, who are now more curious about and interested in their world.

Our students have described their participation in this project as a tipping point in their education. They have become more aware of what opportunities are available to them at home and abroad. Our students have developed the ability to articulate their ideas and carry on thoughtful conversations with people such as the bestselling author and scholar, Reza Aslan. The confidence they have developed has led two of our students to receive full scholarships to travel to France and South Africa.

Using digital resources—often at little to no cost to our school—in creative ways has powered this transformation. “Kris is seen as a leader in the ed tech community and schools throughout the region are covetous of his students’ connections with other kids around the world, which is why we nominated him for this award,” Ryan Coon, Program Officer, Sprout Fund.