Hampton gives Russian teachers taste of America
For a group of visitors to the Hampton Township School District, it was not only their first time in the district, it was their first time in the country.
Russian educators from the Chelyabinsk region visited three of Hampton Township's schools on Dec. 4 as part of a weeklong tour of the Pittsburgh region with the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh, said Amiena Mahsoob, director of education programs with World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh.
The 50 teachers and administrators were learning about education in preschool through high school, how outside organizations such as intermediate units and vo-tech schools contribute to learning, and creating partnerships with schools and other groups.
“We wanted to give them a sampling of really great schools in the region that are doing really great things,” Mahsoob said. “Naturally, we thought of Hampton.”
The visitors started their day in Hampton at the middle school, where they split into small groups and were led around the school by eighth-grade tour guides. They took photos of classrooms, posters and lockers and asked questions, translated through an interpreter, about the various aspects of the school building, schedules and courses.
“It's been really cool to show them around,” said Regan Rushmore, 15, an eighth-grader studying Russian as part of her global-exploration class. “It's a neat experience.”
They visited Central Elementary School and Hampton High School in the afternoon.
One of these educators was Olga Pelikh, who was Pittsburgh Penguins star Evgeni Malkin's teacher nearly 14 years ago.
“He had a lot of fun and made a lot of jokes,” Pelikh said through an interpreter.
“But he was actually very well organized and a good student.”
She said everybody back home is very proud of Malkin's accomplishments. She said she hopes one day he will be able to come to her classroom again to speak to the students.
Early in the week of their visit, the Russians went through training that took them in depth into the United States' education system and trends in American education before getting into the schools, said Andrey Belousov, one of the group's interpreters. Only a few in the group spoke English fluently.
Belousov, a native Russian who lived in Pittsburgh for 12 years, said for many of the educators, it was their first time in the United States.
“They love it,” he said. “There was a lot of theoretical information in the first day, so it's good for them to see it in action.”
In addition to touring Hampton Township School District, they also visited Beth Shalom Early Childhood Learning Center, the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, A.W. Beattie Career Center, the Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy, Winchester Thurston School and the Environmental Charter School.
Irina Selivanova, an English teacher at UNESCO School 104 in Chelyabinsk, said she was happy to visit the school district.
As a first time visitor to the United States, she said, she will be bringing a lot of new ideas back to her school in Russia and would love to do a collaborative project with Hampton students in the future.
“The teachers are so interesting and very creative, and the students are so active,” Selivanova said. “I would like to have more time to see everything and to be able to have the experience of the students.”
Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or email@example.com.