Monday, November 08, 2010

News From New Brunswick, Canada

Heidi Horsman took her role to the next level.

While in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Heidi Horsman (left) worked with a local co-tutor, Suzanna (right) to coach local teachers in ways they can use technology and differentiated teaching practices to help reach all learners.

Currently a Grade four teacher at Frank L. Bowser elementary school, her original career was in marketing. However the classroom beckoned for a very It's a family tradition. Her dad, Doug Horsman, was also an educator, retiring as principal of the Lower Coverdale School. Heidi also taught there.

She loves teaching, and decided to apply for an assignment with Project Overseas, in operation since 1962. This organization enables teachers from across Canada to travel to countries throughout the world, that the Canadian Teachers' Federation (CTF) have partnerships with, to mentor teachers. The New Brunswick Teachers' Association, as a participating member of CTF, to date has sent 43 teachers overseas as part of this undertaking.

It truly is an adventure for our teachers (a local co-tutor assists them there with the "cultural divide"). When they apply they have no idea where they'll be going. Heidi went to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, a nation in the Caribbean's Lesser Antilles Chain.

"Many of those teachers (in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), about 50%, have never had any university training and about 60% haven't even finished high school themselves," explains Heidi. "They teach the best they can, and some of the teachers I met with told me some of their struggles are with classroom management."

The entire purpose of the trip was mentorship for teachers, not to teach children. Heidi made the two and a half week visit during her summer vacation - also the summer break for their teachers.
While she found poverty there, there was also prosperity and she was surprised to find a modern computer lab where she mentored, made possible through grants. She was working in IT, teaching teachers not only how to use computers, but how to tie them into various subject areas.

Education there now goes beyond sixth grade, once the stopping point, and just as Saint Vincent and the Grenadines benefited from the Project Overseas visit, so do tens of thousands of school children world-wide.

Heidi would "definitely" volunteer again for another assignment.
She returned to Canada with an appreciation for the benefits of our education system - as well as the "family first" way of life in the country she visited.

"Their country doesn't have Sunday shopping. ... everything rolls up and packs away on a weekday at six o'clock. Stores aren't open and families are important. ... I need to learn to do that for myself. ... when family is important kids come to school ready."

She found the people of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines warm and welcoming, and got to enjoy her passion for photography while there. She shares those pictures now with her students here. Heidi is also an avid reader - and now a world traveller, with a purpose.

"I think that programs for international cooperation are a phenomenal way that you can give back without giving a ton of money. If you want to help people throughout the world," she says, "give them your time.",621591