We continue our series on how APS teachers spent their summer with our first duo: Nancy Hultquist (above right) and Kelley Jordan-Monné (left) from Morris Brandon Elementary. These two teachers traveled to Bamako, Mali, to continue to develop the school’s relationship with their sister school, Kalanso Espace Education. Kalanso and Morris Brandon began their sister-school partnership during the 2007-08 school year when students from the two schools became pen pals. Read more after the jump …
Two teachers from Kalanso – a K-9 school in Bamako, Mali. – made the journey to Brandon for a five-week exchange in the late summer of 2008. This most recent visit by two Brandon teachers continues to strengthen the bond between the two schools.
Jordan-Monné and Hultquist, the two teachers from Morris Brandon, visited classes, met students and faculty, and spent time with the parents of Ecole Kalanso. “Kalanso’s parent group went out of their way to make us feel welcome,” said Hultquist. Jordan-Monne agreed: “The entire community joined together to insure that we had the opportunity to take part in school activities as well as various aspects of the Malian culture.”
Visiting the homes of the students was especially meaningful for the visiting teachers from Brandon. Each evening, the teachers enjoyed dinner at the home of one of the Kalanso students. Other community members joined in at these meals, making them a cultural event more than just a shared meal. Not only were the teachers’ eyes opened to the types of foods eaten daily, but the warm social aspect of dinner was constantly displayed.
The teachers also had an opportunity to visit local cultural sites. Museum visits, trips to the market, time with a well known local artisan making mud cloth, as well as a trip to Timbuktu were all arranged and provided to the visiting teachers from Brandon by the Kalanso parent group. “It is nothing really,” the parents would respond as the Brandon teachers constantly thanked them. “This is just what we do. The visitor is king in Mali.” Malian’s gracious hospitality impressed the two APS teachers.
Nancy Hultquist and Kelly Jordan-Monné walked away from their visit to Kalanso knowing that they would work to strengthen the relationship between the two school communities. At a meeting with some Kalanso faculty members, a curriculum plan formed to further connect the two sister schools. By examining and discussing the curriculum and interests of both the Brandon and Kalanso teachers, the two groups decided to attempt an environmental study throughout the 2009-10 school year. Details of the plan were discussed and an online blog developed for the schools to post their findings, questions, and communications. The schools also plan to utilize video conferencing to introduce other faculty members and students to each other.
“It is not enough to simply learn about the world through books,” Nancy Hultquist states. “Students and teachers need to go and experience the world for themselves.” Both Jordan-Monné and Hultquist believe that the value of their personal experiences in Mali will transfer to the classroom in dynamic ways.