Three educators from Guatemala spent a day learning about how children are schooled in Valley Stream, while sharing some information about their own educational customs.
The teachers visited District 13 on Oct. 28, where they got to meet teachers, students, administrators and Board of Education members. They were able to visit classrooms, meet with reading teachers, see special programs and observe students using technology.
For the three teachers, Juan Diego Soberains, Mayra Flores and Marie José León, Valley Stream was just the first stop in a full week of school visits on Long Island. They were hosted by the Nassau County Reading Council.
The three teachers were able to visit the United States because they were recognized as outstanding educators in Guatemala. Schools there are closed late October through December for vacation.
In Guatemala, the typical school day is about four hours long, there are up to 45 children in a class, and there are few computers, the teachers said. Like in the United States, there is a focus on language, math, social studies and science. Most schools don’t have gymnasiums or nurses. Very few students attend college, they explained, and it takes three years of study to become a teacher.
León, who also served as the translator, said she and her colleagues enjoyed the visit. “It’s a new experience,” she said. “We learned a lot. It will give us a little bit of hope that we can have change in Guatemala.”
The teachers noted that they want to implement the reading and writing strategies that they learned, and were given some books to take back home.
Each of the four elementary schools hosted at least one of the visitors for a half-day. Flores and León visited Willow Road and Wheeler Avenue, while Soberains toured Howell Road and the James A. Dever School. Central administrators, principals and three Board of Education members joined them for lunch in the district board room.
Superintendent Dr. Adrienne Robb-Fund said the visitors were impressed with how well District 13’s teachers know their students, and their ability to create lesson plans geared toward the individual needs of each child.
“They got an excellent look at what we offer,” she said. “I hope the Guatemalan teachers come away with new strategies for teaching their children. I hope our teachers come away with the same.”