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Education extending across borders

Roxanne Thayer - Courtesy photo
Roxanne Thayer
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Olympic High School Assistant Principal Roxanne Thayer was shocked and giddy with anticipation after hearing the news.

She will participate in an educational exchange program as a recipient of the Fulbright Teacher Exchange award.

“It’s really exciting,” Thayer said as a smile spread across her face. “I feel a huge sense of wonder that I was chosen for this honor.”

In July, Thayer will travel to Argentina for three weeks to study, as an administrator, their education system. As part of the exchange program, administrator Lilian Behler from Argentina will arrive at OHS on Oct. 10 and will stay until Nov. 20.

Thayer said one of the main reasons she applied for this award last winter was her passion for global connections with educators around the world. Thayer added that she attended a seminar last summer focusing on educational issues surrounding students having personalization and support in their education.

“I already knew Argentina was doing things with education I wanted to learn about,” Thayer said.

Although Thayer said she is excited about traveling to Argentina in July, she is even more excited for Behler to arrive in October. As part of the Fulbright award, Thayer and Behler must work on one project together, focused on education. The project focuses on personalizing education for students and teachers through the use of advisories, advisory curriculum and student-led parent conferencing. Thayer added that OHS also is involved with the “Eastside Initiative,” a program that started at OHS designed to improve student achievement and reach out to the varied student population, which coincides with Behler’s “resiliency in schools” program.

“She’s working resiliency education to help students bounce back from hardships in their education,” Thayer added. “She’s going to help us with our resilience education.”

Introduced at the beginning of the current school year, OHS will offer advisors for all sophomore students that will remain their advisor for their three years of high school. The advisories for students is the project that Thayer and Behler will be working on together.

“I’m excited to hear her ideas about education,” Thayer added with a smile. “It’s educational networking.”

Along with working together on the advisory project, Thayer said she hopes to take Behler to meet fellow educator friends of hers at Simon Fraser University as well as take Behler down to Olympia to meet the Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson. During her time in the United States, Behler will be staying with Thayer and possibly one of the Spanish teachers at OHS. Thayer added she’d also like to take Behler to the University of Washington to meet with professors in education, visit Bremerton High School student-led conferences and cultural trips to Seattle.

“I will let her set her weekends (so she can see) educational and cultural things,” Thayer said with a laugh. “It’s really exciting because you’re awarded the (Fulbright) grant based on your partner accepting.”

With knowing only minimal Spanish, and Behler minimal English, Thayer said she’s not nervous about the language barrier.

“I’m not nervous,” she added with a laugh. “Because the paperwork Fulbright sends you says have a sense of humor.”

Not knowing much about Argentina, Thayer said she is eager to learn about the country’s education system through Behler and when she travels there in July, where she will be staying with Behler.

“Since I don’t know a lot about the country right now, I’m really interested in what (their) focus is in education,” she added.

Thayer added global connections in education are just as important as being connected economically.

“With the world the way it is now, it’s essential to get your kids to be active in local government and be standing on their own two feet,” Thayer added. “And Argentina is moving in the same educational direction (as OHS).”

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