By JOE LEUTKEHANS – Bonjour, Ola, and Ni Hao! From now until March, IHS will serve as host to 16 international leaders in education as a part of program in partnership with IUP. Officially titled, the International Leaders in Education Program, ILEP brings teacher leaders from around the world into IHS classrooms. This returning program, which was started last year through grant funding, will help IHS students explore ideas of world culture and globalization by giving them a first-hand view at what life and education is like in several different countries worldwide. The visiting teachers also gain knowledge of American educational practices and see close-up teaching and learning with American students.
Hailing from countries such as Malaysia, India, the Philippines, Senegal, Morocco, Brazil, and Kenya, each educator will be able to bring a unique viewpoint to both the students and teachers at IHS from their corner of the world. Students will have access to information regarding these educators’ personal and professional experiences, and both parties are extremely excited to share their cultures. One of the main reasons this program is so important to IHS is that it allows for its students to recognize the global nature of the world in which we live. Because many IHS teachers and students may never have the opportunity to visit these countries on their own, the ILEP program allows for them to experience these cultures in an educational context which can open their eyes to new viewpoints and opportunities.
Dr. Lara Luetkehans, Dean of the College of Education and Educational Technology and Michele Petrucci, Associate Vice President of International Education and Global Engagement serve as Co-Directors of the program at IUP. This is the second year of the program. Through a competitive grant process, IUP was chosen as a host university due to its ability to offer the Fellows both a rural and urban look at the American education system, and the University’s successful track record with hosting international programs. ILEP was originally awarded funding by IREX through the US State Department and proved to be a success with last year’s Fellows and partner teachers, so this year the program again received funding. With Luetkehans handling most academic facets of the program and Petrucci taking charge of the program logistics and Fellows’ living experience in Indiana, the pair make an excellent team in ensuring that all participants are supported.
According to Luetkehans, the benefits that the program brings are numerous and valuable beyond any monetary value. Having access to teacher representatives from different countries offers much to anybody with room to grow. Regarding the effects of the program, Luetkehans states, “It’s not just enriching the Fellows, IUP is enriched, the IHS partner teachers and the students in their classrooms are enriched…new friends are made and everybody grows in their understanding of the world because of it.”
Also, assisting the ILEP visitors is retired Indiana High social studies teacher Michael Rieg, who is serving as Field Experience Coordinator for this year’s group and is responsible for transportation, communication with IUP, and promoting the program regionally. Rieg commented, “It’s great for our school and community to build bridges both educationally and culturally with these visiting professionals.”
Since their arrival in the United States on January 7th, the ILEP Fellows have been busy, acclimating themselves to American small-town life in Indiana and having some exposure to American city life in Pittsburgh. Although the Fellows made their first IHS appearance on Martin Luther King Day for a teacher professional development day, the ILEP Fellows are scheduled to meet the IHS students on Wednesday, January 25th and will be visiting on a weekly basis until they transition to a similar experience at Brashear High School in Pittsburgh. IHS students will have this unique opportunity to take advantage of the many things they can learn from the visiting teachers by talking with them and learning more about each of their amazing countries and unique cultures.
[Photo courtesy of: Davies Adoga]
Photo Caption: Visiting ILEP teachers form across the world spent a day in Pittsburgh getting to know Western PA. Front row, kneeling from left to right: Gurpreet Singh, Mouhamadou Traore, Mansour Ndiaye, Tina de Moraes Marques, Davies Adoga Standing back row left to right: Waseem Aziz, Anna Cabanilla, Calvin Mikeng, Philemon Kimutai, Rachel Rendon, Mamadou Diallo, Ahlam Lamjahdi, Zineb Moussafir, Jewel Teo Ham, Gicelma da Costa Xavier, Bhupinder Singh, and Tony Schiera (IUP)