Long Beach High School hosted a group of educators from Finland on Oct. 8 as an opportunity to demonstrate the range of experiences offered in a comprehensive high school in the United States. The visit was coordinated through Principal Bill Stroud, who has experience in working with educators from around the world. 

The guests were from the Kulosaari School in Helsinki, one of the top ranked schools by the Finnish Internal Data and Ministry of Education. The purpose of their travels was to look for ideas regarding changes that they can make to their own curriculum. Long Beach High School, an International Baccalaureate World School that provides a broad scope of opportunities, is a positive example of a school that promotes college and career readiness.

Long Beach High School was selected as one of six schools that the educators toured and observed during their time in the United States. The other schools they visited, including the Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C., are well-known, high-profile learning institutions.
Several high school seniors served as escorts and showed their guests around the building, described a typical school day and reviewed the courses, extracurricular activities and electives that are available.

According to the student guides, the educators found several aspects of Long Beach High School to be unique. They expressed that the Forensics class, which combines multiple sciences, impressed the guests, as did the student-run Talented Writers class, the Symphonic Choir and more.
The Long Beach students were equally intrigued by what they learned about education in Finland. “Their schools are different; they are more like colleges and do not offer organized sports, which I found interesting,” said senior Klaudia Sarno. She and her classmates were surprised to learn that students in Finland are provided a stipend to pay for college. “Being a guide was very informative because I got to see a lot of classes here at the high school that I am not a part of,” she said.

While Mr. Stroud was already familiar with the dissimilarities between the United States and Finland school systems from his previous work with the Vice Deal of Education at the University of Helsinki, he took valuable lessons from the visit as well. “It made me look at our school from a different point of view,” he said. “I stepped out of my general role as an insider and explored our purpose and vision through another lens.”