Teach­ers travel to China in ex­change pro­gram

Record Observer - - FRONT PAGE - By HAN­NAH COMBS hcombs@kibay­times.com

— Queen Anne’s County Teacher of the Year 2016-17 and kin­der­garten teacher at Church Hill Ele­men­tary, Ta­mara Forte will be con­tin­u­ing the school year af­ter school lets out for the sum­mer, teach­ing stu­dents in China. Spon­sored by the Suzhou Gusu District Board of Ed­u­ca­tion and the Suzhou For­eign Ex­change & Co­op­er­a­tion Cen­ter, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege, this is the 10th year for the sum­mer pro­gram trip since its be­gin­nings in 2007.

The goal of the pro­gram varies from year to year, ex­plained Forte. This year the goal is to teach Chi­nese el­e­men­tar y ed­u­ca­tors how to teach English more cre­atively with the hands-on, in­ter­ac­tive ap­proach that is used in the states and specif­i­cally by Queen Anne’s County Pub­lic Schools.

Forte will be joined by Jon Long­est from Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege. Long­est, who will be co-teach­ing with Forte, will be the Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the teach­ing ex­change this sum­mer. Long­est is EMS Pro­gram Di­rec­tor at the col­lege. The two will leave on June 25 and re­turn July 9. In ex­change for teach­ing, Suzhou will pay part of the flight ex­penses, but the Amer­i­can ed­u­ca­tors will be re­spon­si­ble for pro­vid­ing ma­te­ri­als and small gifts for the stu­dents, as well as teach­ing aids, ex­plained Forte.

Many of these items, Forte said, she will need to pur­chase and make with her own funds. For ex­am­ple, eye ball point­ers to read with, let­ter vests to spell words with, and clay to cre­ate hands-on learn­ing. All ma­te­ri­als will be left there as a gift to the school, she said.

Forte, who is known for her en­thu­si­as­tic teach­ing style at CHES, said im­me­di­ately af­ter be­ing in­vited to par­tic­i­pate she be­gan think­ing of all the things she would share: karate spell­ing, mak­ing words with clay, and Cat in the Hat rhyming hats — just to name a few. “The ideas were quickly com­ing, and I was so ex­cited to be able to share my pas­sion and my fun, mem­o­rable way of teach­ing,” said Forte.

“These teach­ers are look­ing for ways to teach more cre­atively in the class­room. What bet­ter way to teach read­ing and writ­ing than to ex­plore with Dr. Seuss?” Forte con­cluded, “My plan be­gan with ideas of rhyming and Seuss-y fun.” How­ever, the trip did come with sev­eral ex­penses not cov­ered by Suzhou. Other teach­ers and friends asked Forte how they could help and where they could send do­na­tions. To give peo­ple who were in­ter­ested in par­tic­i­pat­ing — with­out hav­ing to make the trip to China — a way to help, Forte set up an Ama­zon Wish List and Go Fund Me page. She is hop­ing to raise ap­prox­i­mately $2,000 to put to­ward sup­plies and travel ex­penses.

“This is an amaz­ing op­por­tu­nity that I could not pass up on,” said Forte, “I am ex­cited to rep­re­sent the U.S., Mary­land, and QACPS, and am ex­cited to build re­la­tion­ships and con­nec­tions; and l am ex­cited to learn all I can to be a more glob­ally ed­u­cated teacher and con­trib­u­tor to so­ci­ety. I can’t wait to see what I can bring back to our county and my class­room.”

The trip will al­low for five days of lec­ture and an op­por­tu­nity to visit no­table places of in­ter­est in Bei­jing, in­clud­ing the Great Wall, Tianan­men Square, and the For­bid­den City.

CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTO

Left, Church Hill Ele­men­tary kin­der­garten teacher Ta­mara Forte and Jon Long­est, EMS Pro­gram Di­rec­tor at Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege, pre­pare for their sum­mer teach­ing trip to China.

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