A Leadership Network of
International Studies Schools


Since 2003, Asia Society has worked in partnership with school districts and charter authorities to create the International Studies School Network (ISSN), a national network of design-driven schools that are achieving success in attaining their core mission to develop college ready, globally competent high school graduates.

The ISSN responds to two intertwined imperatives facing American education.  The first is the chronic problem of persistently poor academic performance among low income and minority secondary school students.who often face inequality in access to quality education. Many of these students do not have sufficient financial support to pay for additional classes and textbooks or buy term papers online that can help students better understand the material.  The inability of American public schools to adequately prepare the vast majority of urban and poor youth has been well chronicled.  Schools in low income city neighborhoods and rural communities are virtually overwhelmed with high student disengagement, watered-down curriculum and low rates of school achievement.

A second imperative to American education is to prepare students for a world where the challenges and opportunities for success increasingly require the ability to compete and cooperate on a global scale.  Globalization has had a pervasive impact on the U.S. and other nation’s economies.  Since 1990, 3 billion people in China, India and the former Soviet Union have moved from closed economies into a global one.  One in five U.S. jobs is now tied to international trade and the trend is rising.  U.S. employers will “increasingly need employees with knowledge of foreign languages and cultures to market products to customers around the globe and to work effectively with foreign employees and partners in other countries.”  (Committee on Economic Development, 2006).

Economies and cultures are becoming more interconnected through technology, and the digitization of production is making it possible for people to do increasing amounts of work anywhere and anytime.  Global production teams are becoming commonplace in business.  Health and security matters likewise cut across regional and cultural boundaries.  In this highly interdependent world, virtually every major issue that people face – from global warming to terrorism – has an international dimension.  Increasingly, actions taken in the U.S. have impact across the planet, and require greater knowledge of the world.  And in U.S. schools and communities, world trends in migration and immigration have generated enormous cultural and linguistic diversity.  In the Los Angeles Unified School District, for example, 56 languages are spoken (California Department of Education, 2007) a trend mirrored in districts throughout the nation.  Knowledge of other cultures will help students not just tolerate but seek out opportunities to interact with classmates from different countries, a needed foundation for work and citizenship in the 21st century.

Especially for low-income students of color, American secondary schools are failing to provide adequate preparation measured by our own standards and against international benchmarks.  Nor are we preparing students for the challenges of globalization.  Studies show U.S. students lack knowledge of world geography, history and current events and are woefully ill prepared to speak the world’s languages.  In contrast, many countries in Europe and Asia are preparing students for the global age by raising levels of education attainment and college readiness, by emphasizing international knowledge, skills and language acquisition, and by fostering respect for other cultures. The new skill set goes beyond the United States’ current focus on math, science and technology.  These skills are necessary, of course, but to be successful global citizens, workers and leaders, students from the cities to the suburbs will need to be knowledgeable about the world, be able to communicate in languages other than English, and to be informed, active citizens.

To read more about the ISSN School Design model and the profile of an ISSN graduate, please click here.



Anthony Jackson
Chief Executive Officer, International Studies Schools Network
Executive Director, Asia Society

Anthony Jackson, Ph.D., trained in both developmental psychology and education, is one of the nation’s leading experts on secondary school reform and adolescent development.  Before joining Asia Society as Executive Director of the International Studies Schools Network and after serving as the Director of the Walt Disney Company’s Disney Learning Partnership, Dr. Jackson acted as Vice President for Development and Communications at the Galef Institute in Los Angeles.  Prior to this, Dr. Jackson directed the Carnegie Corporation Task Force on the Education of Young Adolescents, which produced the seminal Turning Points report on middle school reform, and also authored the follow-up blueprint, Turning Points 2000.

Shari Albright
Chief Operating Officer, International Studies Schools Network
Executive Director, Asia Society

Shari Becker Albright, Ed.D., is the Chief Operating Officer for Asia Society's International Studies Schools Network. Before joining Asia Society, Shari was the principal of a public, internationally-focused magnet school in the North East Independeinternationally-focused magnet school in the North East Independent School District in San Antonio, Texas – the International School of the Americas (ISA).  The school was the recipient of the Goldman Sachs Prize for Excellence in International Education and serves as a mentor school for the Coalition of Essential Schools.  During her tenure with the International School, she also served as the Director of the North East School of the Arts and as a professor of educational leadership with Trinity University for the last 10 years.  Shari was named the HEB Excellence in Education Texas High School Principal of the Year in 2005.

Judith Conk
Director of Academic Affairs
International Studies Schools Network

Judy Conk is presently the Director of Academic Affairs for the International Studies Schools Network.  Before retiring from public school administration in 2001, she worked in both urban and suburban settings as a Principal, Assistant Superintendent, and for sixteen years, as a Superintendent.   Mrs. Conk has spoken and written on topics such as school change, leadership development, assessment, arts education, staff development, instructional strategies, and multiple intelligences in the classroom.  She is a member of the Professional Development Cadre of the National Middle School Association as well as the Speakers Bureau of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Partners in Education Program.  In May of 1996, Mrs. Conk was awarded the prestigious Distinguished Service Award for Educational Leadership from the New Jersey Association of School Administrators.  Mrs. Conk also received a Governor’s Award in Arts Education as Outstanding Superintendent of 2001. 

Barbara Kelley
Director of Professional Development
International Studies Schools Network

Barbara Kelley was inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame in 2004.  She served as the only teacher to chair the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, succeeding founding Chair, Governor Hunt of North Carolina.  Barbara served as a consultant to the Romanian Education Ministry in 2001 – 2002.  She led delegations of National Board Certified Teachers to China, Australia/New Zealand and Russia for the People to People Ambassadors Program.  In 1999, Teacher Magazine named her one of ten people who shaped the decade in American education. She retired after teaching physical education for twenty-nine years.  Ms. Kelley received a Milken National Educator Award in 1998.  She is a former Maine Physical Education Teacher of the Year and High School Coach of the Year.

Deborah Agrin
Program Associate, Education
Asia Society

Deborah Agrin is an Education Program Associate at Asia Society, working to promote international education and expand opportunities for experiential learning for faculty and students in the International Studies Schools Network.  Prior to Asia Society, Ms. Agrin provided support for international students working in the United States requiring help with employment, insurance, taxes, and government regulations at the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE).  Ms. Agrin holds a M.A. in International Education from New York University and a B.A. in Psychology from Cornell University.

Wendy Blankenburg
Executive Associate
Asia Society - International Studies Schools Network

Wendy Blankenburg is the Executive Associate for Asia Society's International Studies Schools Network.  Wendy provides key administrative leadership to the Network, which is based in Asia Society's Los Angeles office.  Wendy was previously a program assistant at the Natural Resources Defense Counsel.  She has a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Human Development from Montana State University.


Employment Opportunities

There are currently no opportunities available with Asia Society’s International Studies Schools Network at the national level.  Please check Asia Society’s Career Opportunities website for future openings.

For leadership, faculty, and staff positions at an ISSN school, please contact the individual school directly for a list of their current opportunities.  Contact information for each school can be found here.