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Eric Northard – Teachers for Global Classrooms

Legacy and Leadership Awards were created to recognize and celebrate acts of community leadership in honor of our founder Charles Blandin’s 75-year legacy of leadership. 


As the fortunate “host brother” of several exchange students throughout his younger years, Eric Northard was on an early path to becoming a global citizen. And after spending his senior year of high school as a Rotary Youth Exchange in Bromma, Sweden, his international lens was irrevocable.

Eric’s work with Teachers for Global Classrooms is all about helping students in our community see that the world is accessible.

“We live in one of the most homogeneous parts of the United States,” he said. “Exposure to global perspectives and diversity is essential to success in the 21st century. That’s why it’s important to experience new places—because experiences abroad lay the cornerstones of global competencies which will enhance critical thinking and lead students to be innovative problem solvers.”

Eric works closely with international students at Grand Rapids High School to establish networks and provide support. He was also a cofounding advisor for both the International Club and the Interact Club. He continues to educate himself and participate in global trainings as well as youth empowerment activities.

Success for Northard is defined by students who are spending their school year abroad—and having a fantastic experience. Success is in the graduates of GRHS who are exploring all corners, cultures and vantages of the world long after their school year is over. It’s seeing young people going further than they would have ever believed possible.

“One of my goals here at GRHS is to internationalize education by offering hands-on authentic international experiences and perspectives to our students,” he said.

Thanks to the help of civic organizations such as local Rotarians and counselors from various youth exchanges, along with support from administration and colleagues, Eric has been able to continue his broadening of young minds.

In her nomination of Eric, Jessica Setness said, “In a day when increasing access to technology is shrinking our world, he is equipping his students and the community to be global thinkers and leaders.”


Photo credit: Grand Rapids Herald Review

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