Written by Rabiul Hasan, Media Intern at Global Ties Arizona
Global Ties Arizona brings government professionals from countries of strategic interest to give them a better understanding of US education, culture, governance and democratic values. On October 2017, a group of professionals from Kyrgyzstan came to the USA to learn about the primary and secondary education system and to share best practices from their country with their professional counterparts here. The team members included Ms Zhanyl Egymbaeva,Ph.D, Mr.Taalaibe Mamataliev, Ms.Nazgul Musaeva, Mr. Kubanchbek Sharipov, Ms. Anara Taiguronova, and Mr. Tabyldy Tilekmatov. All of the visitors are government officials serving in various capacities.
Global Ties Arizona hosted these outstanding professionals for 5 days from October 18 to October 22, 2017. Ther time in Scottsdale/Phoenix combined professional experiences with cultural experiences, including visiting beautiful places in Arizona. The group visited Arizona State University Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, which has an established reputation for conducting research that impacts the U.S. education and beyond. Over the years, it has produced some of the best educators in the country. Since their programs are designed to help leaders, policy makers and scholars in schools and other learning environments, they hosted the Kyrgyz delegates to give them a general idea as to how school administration and learning environment work here in Arizona. The exchanges included distinguished scholars in the field of education such as Sean Leahy, Director of Digital Initiatives; Iveta Silova, Director of the center for the Advanced Study in Global Education (CASGE); Nicole Thompson, Associate Director for Teacher Preparation; and Carole Basile, Dean, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. Visitors and interlocutors discussed how their individual role helps the entire system to assure pre-service education; how they contribute to policy development and education reform; and a comparison of how they face the educational challenges specific to Arizona and Kyrgyzstan.
The group also visited the Arizona K12 Center. Under the leadership of Kathy Wiebek, Arizona’s first national board-certified teacher and ex-Deputy Associate Superintendent for Highly Qualified Professionals at the Arizona Department of Education, Arizona K12 is working in collaboration and partnership with Arizona’s universities, other state and national learning institutions, educational organizations, and community and business leaders to support teachers’ professional development with a view to enhancing their students’ learning. Arizona K12 Center is committed to bringing about innovative ideas and professional development support in order to develop a proactive teacher leadership and help them improve their teaching practices which will ultimately result in students’ achievement. Arizona K12 center discussed with the visitors how they design their methodologies based on the most current practices in professional development, and how they emphasize new approaches and research-based answers that enhance teacher performance and student learning. The discussion also included how they develop and lead professional development for teachers today.
The group was invited to Jacqueline Freeman and Jason Hsung’s house for dinner, which was a highlight of many visitors’ stay in Arizona. Jacqueline is a MBTI-Certified Coach, Trainer, and Relationship Alchemist with extensive experience in assessment and curriculum design in academic, leadership, non-profit, and business environments, and Jason is a professional musician.
The Kyrgyz delegates also met with AZTEA (Arizona Technology in Education Association). AZTEA talked about their goals that encourage a connected world and empower learners to flourish while focusing on the use and implementation of available technology in the classroom. AZTEA works with the objective to build a professional educational forum and a network to exchange ideas, techniques and materials, and promote appropriate use of technology in order to improve educational opportunities. The delegates met with Kathy Poplin, who retired as Deputy Associate Superintendent for Educational Technology and has experience of overseeing several large technology initiatives: e-Learning Task Force, IDEAL Education Portal, Statewide Instructional Technology Project, Intel(r) Teach Affiliate, and the EETT program. Her section implemented a new Long-range Strategic Educational Technology Plan and revised the Educational Technology Standard, aligned with ISTE's National Educational Technology Standards for Students. She shared her professional experiences with them, which benefitted them to a considerable extent.
The delegates noted that the opportunity to practically experience how the school system operates here in Arizona was a highlight of their program. They visited the administration office of Joseph A. Zito Elementary School to discuss how administrative affairs are operated efficiently. Following the meeting with Gerard Hernandez, Principal: Lori Diaz, Teacher on Special Assignment and Corinaza Aragon, Reading Specialist, they took a tour to library and observed how small groups were learning under the instruction of professionals in fifth grade classrooms. Later, they were greeted by Dr. Mario Ventura, superintendent of the Isaac School District where they discussed demographics and challenges faced by the district, including poverty issues, language barriers, cultural differences, and the transient nature of the population served. This portion of the program was arranged by Ms. Heather Ayres, a teacher at Joseph Zito Elementary.
Their tour ended with a memorable journey to Sedona where the group was able to experience the red rocks of the great southwest and get a taste for the variety of terrain offered in Arizona.