Dr. Harner honored for global engagement in education

Quakertown Community School District Superintendent Dr. Bill Harner is a recip­i­ent of the Torch of Global Enlightenment Award for 2020, award­ed by the World Affairs Council of Harrisburg.

The announce­ment was made by Joyce M. Davis, pres­i­dent and chief exec­u­tive offi­cer of the orga­ni­za­tion which hon­ors indi­vid­u­als and orga­ni­za­tions in the region that have con­tributed to a bet­ter under­stand­ing of world events and appre­ci­a­tion of diverse lan­guages, cul­tures and lands. Honorees rep­re­sent the high­est ideals of glob­al engage­ment and enlight­en­ment, Ms. Davis said.

Dr. Harner is unique among many edu­ca­tors in that he has a tru­ly glob­al per­spec­tive,” Ms. Davis said. “He knows he’s prepar­ing our next gen­er­a­tion of world lead­ers and under­stands the impor­tance of equip­ping our young stu­dents with ways to deal with not only peo­ple in our com­mu­ni­ty and our coun­try but in the world. Dr. Harner is a glob­al­ly enlight­ened leader, and our board is well aware of his many accomplishments.”

Sen. Mensch Letter To Dr. Harner

She said Dr. Harner exem­pli­fies the ideals of inclu­sive­ness, respect for diver­si­ty, mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism and inter­faith dialogue.

This was total­ly unex­pect­ed and I am so appre­cia­tive,” Dr. Harner said. “It is an hon­or to receive this recog­ni­tion from this out­stand­ing orga­ni­za­tion that does such impor­tant work for stu­dents. I have received incred­i­ble sup­port from our com­mu­ni­ty and School Board for the district’s diver­si­ty ini­tia­tives and glob­al learn­ing. Without their encour­age­ment none of these things would be possible.”

Under sev­en years of Dr. Harner’s lead­er­ship, QCSD has tak­en steps to address racism in the Upper Bucks com­mu­ni­ty. Two years ago, the dis­trict held its first Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. QCSD under­went a system-wide diver­si­ty and inclu­sion ini­tia­tive with the Pearl S. Buck Foundation, which assessed 400 employ­ees as part of “The Welcome Workplace” pro­gram. PSB pro­fes­sion­al train­ers and staff worked with dis­trict lead­er­ship and stake­hold­ers to build indi­vid­ual and group inter­cul­tur­al competency.

For the past two years, all fourth graders in QCSD have com­plet­ed a Peace Center pro­gram designed to devel­op tol­er­ance and empa­thy among stu­dents while build­ing a more inclu­sive class­room com­mu­ni­ty. Last October at its annu­al auc­tion gala, The Peace Center hon­ored QCSD for imple­ment­ing the diver­si­ty and inclu­sion pro­gram at a district-wide lev­el. It’s the only Bucks County dis­trict to do so.

Dr. Harner insti­tut­ed the district’s AP human geog­ra­phy and AP German, AP Mandarin and AP Spanish pro­grams. He added all high school lan­guage pro­grams to the mid­dle school lev­el and began a K‑6 Spanish cur­ricu­lum.

In addi­tion, he fer­vent­ly sup­port­ed the efforts of stu­dents and grad­u­ates to peace­ful­ly protest in Quakertown fol­low­ing the death of George Floyd. In an effort to facil­i­tate ongo­ing dia­logue and under­stand­ing, last win­ter the high school pre­miered “Walking While Black,” a dia­logue between Bucks County law enforce­ment offi­cials and the African American community.

Dr. Harner brings speak­ers from through­out the world to engage and edu­cate stu­dents,” Ms. Davis said. “He encour­ages young peo­ple to attend our activ­i­ties. He goes out and push­es glob­al engage­ment to your region. If he sees some­thing impor­tant he reach­es out and grabs it and brings it right to his kids. I per­son­al­ly have great admi­ra­tion for him. His vision is one of a world-class leader. Dr. Harner is real­ly dear to the hearts of our coun­cil, to the hearts of young people.”

Quakertown Community High School busi­ness teacher Sandra Frisch, advi­sor to the Future Business Leaders of America, has trav­eled with sev­er­al of her stu­dents to Harrisburg for World Affairs Council meet­ings. Students heard from experts about top­ics that impact the entire globe: school vio­lence, trade rela­tions with China, glob­al warm­ing and uni­ver­sal health care.

Dr. Harner asked me to take stu­dents out there,” Ms. Frisch said. “Our stu­dents learned so much from going. They had an oppor­tu­ni­ty to hear dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives and share their own.”

It’s sim­i­lar to what Dr. Harner has done with the district’s Model United Nations pro­gram, a sim­u­la­tion of the UN General Assembly and its oth­er mul­ti­lat­er­al bod­ies where stu­dents per­form an ambas­sador role while debat­ing a vari­ety of topics.

He wants to pre­pare our stu­dents to become more world­ly accli­mat­ed as we become a more glob­al coun­try,” Ms. Frisch said. “Under his lead­er­ship, our stu­dents have become exposed to ideas and thoughts they might not hear sit­ting in a class­room in Quakertown. It gives them con­fi­dence they can move out­side of our com­mu­ni­ty and inter­act with stu­dents from around the state, from around the world.”

Ms. Frisch’s descrip­tion illus­trates a pil­lar of Dr. Harner’s col­lege and career readi­ness pro­grams for stu­dents, which devel­oped dur­ing a 20-year mil­i­tary career fol­low­ing his grad­u­a­tion from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. During his mil­i­tary career, Dr. Harner served in Europe, Asia, and through­out the U.S. Prior to retir­ing as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1998, he had a tour of duty on the staff and fac­ul­ty at West Point. For two years, Dr. Harner was the liai­son between the Office of the US Secretary of Defense and the Office of the Republic of Korea’s Minister of National Defense, in Seoul, South Korea.

Having expe­ri­enced dif­fer­ent soci­eties around the world, I know we must help pre­pare our stu­dents for what they will need as they go out into the world,” he said. “Programs offered by the World Affairs Council are per­fect for those enrich­ing experiences.”