Jessica Roberts, fifth grade teacher at North Warren Elementary, and Harmony Hendrick, fourth grade teacher at Natcher Elementary, recently returned from Harlaxton, England, where they visited and worked in seven schools as part of the Hands Across the Sea program developed by WKU and Warren County Public Schools.
The program is a direct result of partnerships made with local schools when Dr. S. Kay Gandy in the School of Teacher Education at WKU taught a semester at Harlaxton College. Various primary and secondary schools around Harlaxton College host the education students for field observations during their semester at Harlaxton.
Dr. Gandy hosted Sheriden Edwards, Head Teacher (principal) at Harlaxton and Denton Primary Schools, in April 2014 on a visit to Bowling Green. Edwards visited several local schools and spoke in Roberts’ and Hendrick’s classes. Both Warren County teachers have had their students write pen pal letters with students at the Harlaxton schools. Edwards invited both teachers to visit her schools in Harlaxton in April 2015.
The WKU College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, School of Teacher Education, Office of International Programs and Warren County Public Schools have partnered with Harlaxton and Denton Primary Schools in Harlaxton to establish this program. Each year, a team of teachers from Harlaxton Primary School will shadow teachers from Warren County Public Schools for one week, and in return a team of teachers from Warren County Public Schools will shadow teachers from Harlaxton Primary School for one week.
Teachers who go to England are expected to present to their faculty when they get back, as well as to Warren County administrators and WKU entities. In addition, the teachers will set up pen pal exchanges with a class in England and will host a visiting teacher from Harlaxton. Due to the extensive requirements for participation in the program, the CEBS and STE have allowed the teachers to earn three hours of graduate credit.
This program is an important component of WKU’s and Warren County Public Schools’ efforts to create significant professional international opportunities for teachers. By teaching and living in an English school and residence and hosting an international teacher in the home and school, teachers can learn new pedagogical practices, create or extend an international professional network, deepen their international experience and possibly pursue research opportunities.
Teachers will thus be selected to serve as a Visiting Teacher at Harlaxton and Denton Primary Schools, in part, based on how significantly the experience would help internationalize the curriculum and the impact this experience may have on the teacher. The project will impact classroom teachers by developing their teacher leader skills and fostering cultural exchanges that will impact their teaching. The experiences will increase cultural awareness between students and faculty in both countries.
Contact: Andrea Ford, (270) 745-6249