A band of 10 Russian educators weathered Tropical Storm Kyle Friday, Oct. 11, during a visit to The University of North Carolina at Pembroke. They did not complain about weather.
"In October, Siberia is zero degrees (Celsius)," said Irina Miroshnikova, a history teacher from Tomsk.
They are on a five-week, Partners in Education (PiE) program to learn more about U.S. instructional methods. At UNCP, they spent the day in seminars with professor Jane Huffman of the School of Education to discuss issues in curriculum, technology in education and teaching socials studies.
"Mostly, we are interested in new teaching techniques, active learning" said Natalia Zakharova, an English language teacher at the secondary and university levels. "In Russia, we are transforming our curriculum to include different teaching styles.
"Not all our teachers are liking it," she said.
The secondary school teachers are from Seversk and Tomsk, which is the education center of Siberia with seven universities. On the U.S. side, the PiE program is a partnership of UNCP and Scotland County Schools.
The Russian contingent is visiting Spring Hill Middle School and Scotland High School. Each Russian educator is paired with a Scotland County teacher or administrator. For the Scotland County Schools, Dr. Jeanie Freshcorn and Dr. Terry Franklin helped develop the grant.
Principal Sergey Filatov
"We were very surprised by the strong discipline in the school," Miroshnikova said. "We thought there were gangs and undisciplined schools."
"Stereotypes" as Zakharova referred to them abound on both sides.
"Your students know very little of Russia," Miroshnikova said. "They did not know how we traveled here, by car, airplane or boat."
In Robeson and Scotland counties, the Russian educators said they found "real America," said Miroshnikova. The travelers are staying in homes as guests of Scotland County faculty members.
"We have seen many things about every day life," she said. "Americans live in cars. We are more social and travel by train. Most Russians live in tall apartments and communicate more with neighbors.
"That's good and bad," Zakharova added.
The Russians were very impressed by American-style shopping, and the group expects to take in another great tradition during their stay - high school football.
From left: Richard Kania, Olga Maksimenko and Alex Chen
"We will go to a game in two weeks,' Miroshnikova said. "To be in America and not see football would be a shame."
The entourage traveled to Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill to see other universities and tour museums and state government sites of interest, Dr. Richard Kania said. Dr. Kania, chair of UNCP's Department of Sociology, Social Work and Criminal Justice, is host and tour guide.
The visit was funded in part by a $24,900 grant from the American Councils for International Education. Dr. Kania and Dr. Alex Chen, associate vice chancellor for International Programs at UNCP, wrote the grant.
"Citizenship education is the purpose of this program," Dr. Kania said. "They will get a close up look at U.S. education and hear from many professors of the School of Education, which is a partner."
Dr. Kania has been a key player in several professor exchange programs. English language professor, Dr. Olga Maksimenko, who spent a year at UNCP during the 2000-2201 school year, is also a guide and interpreter for the Russian educators.
"It's good to be back," Maksimenko said. "I enjoyed my stay here."
During a tour of the Curriculum Library, the Russians poured over a variety of educational materials.
From left: Natalia Zakharova, Irina Miroshnikova and Jane Huffman
School Director (principal) Sergey Filatov contributed a Powerpoint presentation to the university about his school and community life in Tomsk.
Schools interested in the Russians visiting their school should contact Dr. Richard Kania at 910.521.6232 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TOMSK & SEVERSK
Russian educators participating in Partners in Education (PiE) program come from two neighboring cities in Siberia, Tomsk and Seversk.
The city of Tomsk is one of the oldest cities in Siberia. In 2004, it will celebrate its 400th year. Tomsk is situated in the south of the Western Siberian plain, on the banks of the Tom River. The population of Tomsk, is about 500,000 people and half of them are students.
"Cossacks built our town," Miroshnikova said. "Our town symbol has a white horse on it because the Mongols and Tartars rode horses."
"It is beautiful with many classical buildings in the Italian style," she said.
The Tomsk region is rich in forests, coal, oil and gas, it has a highly developed mining and machinery industries.
People of different nationalities live here: Russians, native Siberians (Selkups and Khunts), Tartars, Germans and Ukrainians. The city boasts seven universities. The most renowned of them is Tomsk State University (125 years old), the first that was ever organized in Siberia. "It is one of the most prestigious Russian universities," Zakharova said.
Tomsk is sometimes called the "Siberian Athens" due to its large numbers of scholars and students. The city has a particular architecture and a special spirit of Siberian hospitality and patriotism.
About 30 kilometers from Tomsk is a satellite town of Seversk, which used to be a top-secret military-industry town during the Soviet times. Currently, there is a partnership between Seversk and American scientists on the issues of converting missiles into fuel for power stations. 120,000 people reside in Seversk. The town has a technical university, 22 secondary schools, musical and arts schools, three athletic schools and two theaters.
Seversk is a "new city," about 50 years old. It was part of a vast industrialization project of the Soviet government. Projects like this one attracted workers from all over the Soviet Union.
The weather in Siberia is very harsh and winters are long. The visitors said a typical October day in Tomsk hovers around freezing.
They arrived at UNCP for training in curriculum; technology and civics education just as Tropical Storm Kevin dumped several inches of rain on the campus. Temperatures, however, remained in the low 70s on this balmy, "fall" day.
Represents Tomsk State Pedagogical University, where she holds the position of the director of the International Information Center. She is associate professor in the Department of Pedagogics. She has a rich experience in organization and managing international programs. Elena has more than 50 publications on different issues of comparative education, including three monographs and three teaching and learning aids on the management of international education programs.
"I teach geography in school No. 29 in Tomsk. In my school, children have excellent opportunities to get a quality education. From the 1st grade, children study a foreign language, world literature, geometry and economics for kids. In the 5th grade, they start learning their second foreign language (they can choose among English, German, French or Spanish). In the 8th grade, specialized education starts, it means that - alongside with the subjects included in the national standard curriculum - students take additional subjects, which are optional in part. We have 12 permanent pathways, among them economics and math, medicine and biology, history and philology, ecology and chemistry, romance and Germanic linguistics. For 10 years, we've been cooperating with teachers from Germany in the latter field. Our school would be happy to host teachers from the U.S. In my school, students also can get arts and aesthetic education. They are trained in choreography, singing, and painting."
"I have been teaching physics for 26 years and have been a school principal in school No. 88 in Seversk for 14 years. I'm a teacher of the highest category, and hold the title of an honored teacher and was 1999 School Principal of the Year in Russia.
My school is operating within the federal experimental program. During the last three years my school has got 3 golden medals and more than 90 diplomas for participation in international and national expos, competitions and Olympiads. In 1999 and 2000, the school was awarded the title of "The School of the year." In 2001, it earned "The School of the Century" award.
I have three children. My daughter is 23 and currently is a graduate student. My sons are 21 and 16 years old. The elder is a university student and the younger is a high school student."
"My name is Natalia Zakharova. I`m 21. I teach in Tomsk State University in the Foreign Languages Department, I also teach in the departments of Law, History and International Relations. Besides, I teach 10th and 11th grades at the Lyceum of TSU. My teaching experience is 2,5 years. I`m interested in integration civics into teaching English. My special interes tis in teaching techniques and using technical aids in the classroom. I would be grateful for sharing experience, and I`m open to all questions concerning teaching process."
About Tomsk State Pedagogical University:
Tomsk State Pedagogical University is the oldest professional pedagogical educational institution in Siberia. It offers an innovative and dynamic education on the international level. Today the university is actively introducing the new educational technologies, employing modern systems and methods of teaching, following innovative pedagogical principles and perspective trends of the new century. For many years, Tomsk State Pedagogical University has been working in close and effective collaboration with many educational and scientific institutions abroad (Poland, Great Britain, the USA, Germany, France and other countries) creating opportunities of professional development, work and study abroad for its staff and students. More than 40,000 specialists for the system of general and professional education have been prepared at TSPU. Today, there are more than 9 000 students receiving education at the university. Quality is the key word in respect to the organization of teaching and research at TSPU. The university is proud of its highly qualified staff of professors and lecturers (more than 50 full professors, 46 associate professors, and over 200 assistant professors and research associates).
The university offers a large number of study programs available at its four institutes and a number of colleges with more than 50 departments: Institute of Foreign Languages, Institute of Physical Culture, Siberian Institute of Psychological and Pedagogic Education, Institute of Economics and Business Enterprising, College of Psychology, College of Advertising and Public Relations, College of Physics and Mathematics, College of Philology, College of Primary Education, College of Natural Sciences, College of Technology and Economics, College of Additional Professions.
According to a decision of Ministry of Education of Russia, the university has been given the status of the "Leading Higher Education Establishment" within the Association for Academic Work and Education Methods (UMO) "Natural Science," the Regional Center "Human Nature Studies," the Intercollegiate Center of the Problems of Peronality Intellectual Development. TSPU takes an active part in the activities of numerous governmental and non-governmental organizations, reflecting the interests of the educational system. Professional development and in-service teacher training is organized and conducted at TSPU in coordination with Tomsk Regional Institute of Professional Development in Education. Professional development is provided within the framework of courses and second higher education programs in a number of specialties.
The University is well-equipped. It has seven buildings, an agro-biological station, a separate building for laboratory research and experiments, a multifunctional sports and recreation complex, a university press center, computer classes (with access to the Internet) and the state-of-the-art printing and copying equipment. Both fundamental and applied scientific research at the university is being done mainly in the fields of physics, psychology and pedagogics, natural sciences and the humanities. There are more than 20 research units functioning on the basis of the institutes and departments of the university: the Laboratory for Philosophy and Sociology of Education, the Laboratory for New Education Technologies, the Laboratory for Siberian Languages, the Laboratory for Quantum Field Theory and Gravitation, the Center for Innovative Pedagogical Education, the Center for Physical Education, the Center for Valeology and more. Research at a number of university centers and laboratories focused on education is coordinated by the Department for the Pedagogue and Researcher, which has the status of the branch of Novosibirsk UNESCO Department. The university participates actively in the grant and project activities and programs initiated by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Science of the Russian Federation and Russian and international scientific foundations (Russian Foundation of Fundamental Research, Russian Humanitarian Scientific Foundation, Soros Foundation, Fulbright Foundation, Humboldt Foundation and others). Major scientific international and all-Russia conferences are regularly hosted by TSPU (10-15 conferences per year), of which many have become traditional. They are "Dulzon's Readings," "Quantum Field Theory and Gravitation," "Siberian Geometry Conference," "Siberian Pedagogical Readings," etc. Involving students in scholarly research is among the most important areas of scientific life at TSPU. A number of All-Russia and regional student scientific conferences have been held by the university as well as regional Olympiads in various subjects and three rounds of the International Mathematical Olympiad.