Making Outreach Connections

Today was a very special day for me.  Through the good graces of our hosts here at the Northeast Science Station, and particularly Nastya, I was able to meet and have a short talk with one of the local elementary school teachers in Cherskiy.  I wanted to take the opportunity to learn about the local community and maybe understand how the Russian education system is similar and different to our own in the U.S.  I also like to extend invitations to teachers and their students to engage in journal writing exchanges that focus on the climate, seasonal, and biome observations.  A kind of a “Climate Buddy” pen-pal program.

Olga was nice enough to accept my invitation to meet.  She has been a teacher in Cherskiy for 40 years and has seen many changes during that time.  Olga teaches children from first grade through fourth grade and really enjoys working with the younger students.  In general, the education here is divided into lower and upper schools.  The transition occurs after the fifth grade after which students move up and complete the next six years before graduating.

The basic system in Russia is similar to that in the U.S.  Students receive marks in the various subjects and are asked to show competence in a set of standards that have been outlined by the state or central government panels.  In Russia the teachers have less influence on the daily lessons when it comes to the delivery.  They are expected to follow the standards and the guides that are supplied.

What I did expect, and it was confirmed, is that Olga and Russian teachers in general care about their students learning and growing, as well as their futures in the same ways that I feel U.S. teachers do.  We are both concerned, and deal with on a daily basis in the classroom, about issues that affect learning.  Issues such as students being prepared for class, support for special needs students, homework, and enrichment programs were just some of the topics we had time to discuss.

Overall I felt a bond with Olga in that teachers who have lived for their students and truly believe that every child can learn and be successful with enough time, support, and honest effort on the part of everyone involved.  I did get the chance to invite Olga and her school to contact myself in the U.S. this coming school year and to begin a conversation between our students that will help to extend the walls of both of our classrooms and present the students with greater opportunities to learn about and experience the world.  I think that the Polaris Core Students are good examples of that support and caring.  I know these kids will go on to do greater things due to the experiences they have gained here.

Olga and John

Olga and John

2 Responses to “Making Outreach Connections”

  1. July 24, 2014 at 6:17 pm, Wendy said:

    What a wonderful experience for you and Olga and an amazing opportunity to connect our students as students and human beings with shared concerns, feelings and goals!

    Thank you for sharing and creating John!

  2. July 27, 2014 at 9:04 am, John Wood said:

    Thank you Wendy,
    The opportunity to make connections in Cherskiy is very exciting. Olga was very willing to share and I get the feeling there will be other teachers in the area. I hope that this is just the beginning.