Recently, a group of Mt. Vernon educators visited Anshan, China to exchange educational practices with schools in Anshan. MVCSC hopes to continue the partnership with Anshan schools and set up further student and teacher exchanges to advance Mt. Vernon’s International Exchange program.
In total, eight Mt. Vernon educators went on the trip: Mt. Vernon High School (MVHS) Principal, Mr. Greg Roach; Fortville Elementary (FES) First Grade Teacher, Ms. Kelsey Sager; Director of Elementary Education and Co-Interim Superintendent Mrs. Heather Noesges; Director of Secondary Education Mr. Scott Shipley; MVHS English Teacher, Mrs. Jordan Gerbsch; Mt. Vernon Middle School (MVMS) Science Teacher, Mr. Eric Harnish; MVHS Mandarin Chinese Teacher, Ms. Yi-Fan Lin; McCordsville Elementary School (MES) Kindergarten Teacher, Ms. Trina Conover; and MVCSC School Board Member, Mr. Tony May. This group was chosen based on a survey that was sent to all Mt. Vernon teachers in the district. The survey asked the teachers their level of interest in traveling abroad through the International Exchange program.
Mr. Roach and Mrs. Noesges can both agree upon the importance that the International Exchange program holds. “We want our students to experience different cultures from around the world in order to help prepare them for life outside of Mt. Vernon,” states Mrs. Noesges. Mr. Roach also emphasised the importance of immersing Mt. Vernon students in various cultures.
The teachers and administrators that traveled abroad only have positive things to say about the trip. Ms. Conover says, “The experience was more than I could have imagined. One of the most memorable experiences was visiting the Gangdu Elementary School. We visited classrooms and spent time with the students during P.E. while they were practicing ping-pong.” She continues to describe the evident determination and dedication to their education that the Chinese students exhibit. “I’m so thankful that Mt. Vernon gives their teachers an opportunity to experience education in different cultures.”
Mr. Harnish explains how seeing historical sights in person made Chinese culture all the more real to him and will influence the way he teaches his students. “I can discuss with students what the actual steps are like on the Great Wall. I can describe to them what bartering with souvenir shop owners is like, or how two people who don’t share a language can still communicate with one another. I know that I have a better understanding of Chinese culture now and my lessons and stories will reflect it, which in turn gives my students a better learning experience.” Experiences gained from the trip to Anshan will help enrich the lessons that Mt. Vernon teachers are able to give the students.
Ms. Lin, the only Mt. Vernon High School teacher born and raised in Asia is proud of the curiosity demonstrated by the Mt. Vernon teachers while visiting the China schools. She describes how wonderful it was to see Mt. Vernon teachers be so eager to learn about Chinese culture. Ms. Lin believes that the educators’ willingness to learn will have a positive influence on Mt. Vernon students.
The teachers that attended are undoubtedly supportive of the International Exchange program and the impact it has on Mt. Vernon students. Mr. Harnish also expresses his high hopes for the future of the program. “I am very excited to see this opportunity open up to more and more of our students and staff as it continues to grow.”