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Visitors from a world away get a taste of education, the Henry County way

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By Jonna Spelbring Priester

General Manager

P.J. Steffen eagerly read from his assignment book to the closest visitor, but she could do little more than smile and pat him on the head, as she couldn’t understand him.

The visitor, along with nine others, hailed from the Ternopil region of the Ukraine, and spoke no English.

The visitors were on hand in Henry County Monday to learn a little more about the American Educational system. Their trip was sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Kentucky/Southern Indiana.

With the help of Superintendent Tim Abrams and others in the district, the Ukranian visitors toured the district, including Campbellsburg Elementary School and Henry County High and Middle Schools.

“Hopefully, it was a great experience for everyone,” Abrams said, adding that he exchanged email addresses with the visiting educators. “We hope to, sometime in the future, have correspondence between classes and their schools in the Ukraine.

While at Campbellsburg Elementary School, the Ukranian educators asked a variety of questions, including how much time was devoted to each content area and whether or not students received breaks during the first 90 minutes of the day.

As the visitors toured Campbellsburg, they watched a few minutes of instruction in Dawn Scroggins’ kindergarten classroom, where students “boxed” the ABCs. One visitor even showed the students where she was from on a globe.

After touring Campbellsburg Elementary School, the Ukranian educators visited Henry County Middle and High School.

At HCMS, the student government association did their presentation about plastic recycling. From there, the visitors heard from a member of the HCMS site based council as well as a member of the Henry County Board of Education.

Abrams said the visitors seemed particularly interested in school finance and governance.

“They were very interested in how U.S. schools were financed, and how schools in Kentucky were financed. They were very interested in school facilities.”

Transportation also was a point of curiosity for the visitors, who also were curious if the district’s drivers were allowed to moonlight in the district’s buses.

Abrams said it was a learning experience for him as well, particularly when it came to explaining the complex nature of the American education system.

He said he also learned that there are many things Americans take for granted.

“At Campellsburg Elementary School, they were so amazed at the number of books our students have access to,” Abrams said. “They have trouble getting any quantity of books. It made me thankful for the country we live in and where we are.”

While at the middle school, the visitors were treated to lunch, the American staple of school pizza and corn.

“Pizza and corn are a traditional school meal (here),” Abrams said. “They enjoyed that.”

In addition to Henry County, the Ukranian educators visited Jefferson and Fayette County Schools.

“Hopefully, they got to see a little bit about rural hospitality and what a great community we have,” he added.

E-mail us about this article at editor@hclocal.com.