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Norwin

Norwin educators heading to China

Joe Napsha
| Monday, Sept. 10, 2018, 2:45 p.m.

Two Norwin teachers and the school district’s superintendent are scheduled to travel to Shenzhen, China, on Sept. 15, to promote teacher and student communications, educational and cultural exchanges, and collaborate to develop global awareness for teacher exchanges and study.

Superintendent William Kerr will be joined by Hillcrest Intermediate School teachers Trisha Brunazzi, the gifted and STEM education coordinator, and Thomas Swenson, fifth-grade English language arts teacher, on the five-day visit. They are scheduled to return home Sept. 23.

Kerr has established a professional working relation with the Chinese based on a visit of 10 Chinese educators in February to Norwin High School and Hahntown Elementary School to observe an innovative STEM education program.

A Chinese company, the International Foundation Alliance-EDU China, invited Kerr and the teachers to showcase Norwin’s educational programs and services to foster a Chinese-American program. The company organized the trip and is paying for the Norwin educators, the district said.

In Shenzhen, a city of about 12.9 million people, the Norwin educators will tour two schools per day, and speak to close to 100 local public school principals as well as Chinese government leaders at a regional conference. Business associates interested in building schools in America will be at the conference, where they will share professional development and best practices for teaching.

In addition to learning about China’s nationwide, standardized curriculum,” Kerr said it would be a great opportunity to showcase Norwin and its educational programs at a National Conference of Elementary and Secondary Principals in the People’s Republic of China.

Brunazzi recalled the Chinese delegation’s visit to her classroom in February to observe STEM activities that highlighted innovation and creativity in her classroom. She immediately knew she wanted to be part of the program to learn from them.

“I am honored to represent Norwin in such an amazing educational experience,” Brunazzi said. “This will be such a positive step toward an important partnership to promote global education.”

Swenson said he anticipates the visit will be “equally rewarding for all involved.” He said he looks forward to sharing the teaching that occurs in Norwin, “while learning and experiencing the teaching styles and environment of the Chinese education system,” Swenson said.

After the Norwin educators return home, the school district will host up to 40 students in fifth through eighth grade from the Shenzhen Tianjian School in China. The Chinese students will visit Norwin beginning Sept. 30 through Oct. 20. Their trip includes educational tours of New York City, Boston, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C., but their stay in Norwin will be the focal point of their journey before returning to China. The Chinese students will stay with Norwin host families and will participate in regular academic programs and daily schedules.

Brunazzi and Swenson — who are national board certified and considered to be master teachers, demonstrated an early interest in the Chinese Youth Ambassador Program and will be an integral part of the Chinese students’ visits and activities at Hillcrest Intermediate School and Norwin Middle School.

IFA-EDU CHINA will provide a stipend to Norwin and homestay families for tuition fees, homestay fees, and program costs.

In November, three Norwin educators are scheduled to travel to China for additional educational and cultural exchanges. Led by Natalie McCracken, assistant superintendent of elementary education, the second trip tentatively includes Heather Newell, Sheridan Terrace Elementary School principal, and Angela Mazur, Norwin High School English teacher.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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