Thursday, April 24, 2003

Exchange teachers on tour

By Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] Yolanda Schwager (left), Stefanie Schoss and Sabine Benning are among a group of Munich teachers visiting Mason High School Wednesday. They are taking part in a two-week teacher exchange coordinated by the Hamilton County Educational Service Center.
(Michael Snyder photo)
| ZOOM |
MASON - Teachers from Greater Cincinnati and Germany are hoping a two-week partnership here will have lasting effects in classrooms on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

Seven area teachers are playing host to the teachers from Munich, giving them tours of Tristate schools, a taste of Cincinnati, and a look at American culture.

In June, the local educators will travel overseas to do the same.

"We take back a lot of things from here," said Elke Kendler, who teaches English in an international school in Munich. "Your buildings are much better equipped and your classes are much smaller.

"But we found out we have many things in common," she added. "Not just in education, but in politics and other viewpoints."

Since arriving last week, the delegation has visited several school districts. They spent Wednesday in Spanish, finance and social studies classes at Mason High School.

There have also been cultural activities - visits to playhouses, dining at Cincinnati restaurants, and shopping at Jungle Jim's International Market in Fairfield.

Before the group leaves Saturday, they've planned more time in the classrooms, a Reds game and farewell dinner.

The Munich teachers are fluent in English, but there were times when explanations were needed.

"We have a new vocabulary word every day," joked Heidi Rieger, a Norwood second-grade teacher. "But we've learned from each other."

This is the 13th year for the teacher exchange program, which is sponsored by Hamilton County Educational Service Center. Teachers apply in the fall, and are recommended by their school district, said coordinator Deb Myers.

This year's participants came from schools in Hamilton and Warren counties. They each receive a $750 scholarship toward their airfare and expenses in Munich, which is one of Cincinnati's sister cities.


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