Caldwell Heights Elementary School welcomed Argentine principal Ana Maria Juarez to its campus as part of a continuing international partnership to improve international relations and enhance practices in schools across the world.
Caldwell Heights Principal Barbara Bergman and Juarez collaborated with students, staff and parents during the three-week visit in January. The two principals met in 2011 when they participated in an international principal exchange program and have continued working together since that time.
At Caldwell Heights, Juarez visited classrooms and shared pictures and videos of Villa Allende, Argentina while teaching students about the culture and history of her region. Juarez also spent time in the dual language classrooms speaking in Spanish to children whose first language is Spanish and practicing Spanish with students whose first language is English.
“This has been a remarkable intercultural opportunity for our students,” Bergman said. “There are many different ways to experience culture and we are fortunate to have Ana Maria here to share stories about her school and country.”
One of the goals of Caldwell Heights as an International Baccalaureate (IB) campus is to create global citizens. Through the IB mission, schools strive to build a better world through intercultural understanding and respect. The program encourages students of all ages to think critically, challenge assumptions, consider local and global contexts and develop multilingual students.
Juarez and Bergman agreed that while the schools in each country have many differences, they have much in common and all students benefit from increasing their global understanding.
Students at both campuses created photo stories of their home life. Through the partnership, students at Caldwell Heights and Juarez’s school in Argentina narrated the stories and shared with each other via computers, which will give each group of students the opportunity to see the world through the eyes of their peers.
They continue to collaborate on future projects. Fourth grade classes from Argentina are also going to write letters to fourth grade students at Caldwell Heights. In addition,Juarez plans to connect parents in Villa Allende to an English class at CHE via Whatsapp.
“This has been a great learning experience,” Juarez said. “Barb has become like a sister to me. When she visited Argentina, many of my students had never encountered a person who speaks English. She made the experience of learning about the United States so much richer.”
Juarez said Bergman’s trip to Villa Allende, Argentina was significant because the students could ask questions and learn about the American culture first hand. Bergman and Juarez plan to continue their school projects for as long as they are both principals, and continue their relationship for the rest of their lives.
“This international partnership has been a large blessing and one of the biggest influences in my career,” Bergman said. “It has changed the way I think. It is such an honor to have this connection on another continent.”