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January 15, 2003 2 min read
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Teaching Abroad: Good Preparation

To the Editor:

In the article “Colleges Sending Teacher-Candidates to See the World” (Dec. 11, 2002), you described “cutting edge” education schools that send their student-teachers abroad. Actually, Bowling Green State University, in Bowling Green, Ohio, offered such a program when I was an undergraduate in 1974.

I had the incredible opportunity to student-teach in Sao Paulo, Brazil, for 16 weeks. Since the usual student-teaching time frame was 10 weeks, I taught Monday through Thursday and could travel each three-day weekend.

The beauty of Rio de Janeiro and Iguacu Falls remains indelibly in my mind. But so does the extreme poverty of Bahia, where families lived in cardboard boxes on untenable hillsides. The bloated bellies of small children will also remain with me forever. Even everyday technology could not be taken for granted there. I lived with a Brazilian family that had waited two years to have its first phone line installed.

When I teach about our American government, I tell my students about the government identification card I had to carry at all times in Brazil, and the unease I felt when soldiers with machine guns boarded public buses looking for possible dissidents.

From this invaluable experience, I continue to share with students how lucky we are to live in America with our unbelievable wealth and technology, and to convey to them how important it is to learn about, hold, and practice our democratic ideals. I do not take for granted the many blessings Americans have and the need to share those blessings with people around the world.

Now I’m in my 28th year of teaching. Bowling Green’s international program prepared me well for my career.

Lynne Allison Jones
Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio

Leadership Means Applauding Others

To the Editor:

Fortunately, Eric J. Smith does not represent all the country’s teachers and school administrators, because he seems to indict their efforts to improve schools that are struggling through extraordinarily difficult situations (“Good-Bye to the Gentleman’s C,” Commentary, Nov. 27, 2002).

I’ve been an administrator at all levels and in all kinds of schools, and I understand the challenges teachers and administrators face every day. Currently, I am a high school principal in a system that does have leadership, measurable standards for excellence, a clear strategy to achieve these standards, and a nationally recognized community-involvement program. I have been involved with many other districts that have the same qualities.

While we are all appreciative of Mr. Smith’s accomplishments in the area of educational leadership, it is unfortunate that he did not take the editorial opportunity to applaud the hard work, sacrifice, dedication, and commitment of our nation’s unsung educators.

Michael McClellan
Principal
Plano East Senior High School
Plano, Texas

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