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Feb. 15, 2010
MARYVILLE, Mo. - A contingent of instructors and deans from Panama are visiting Northwest and area facilities this week to gain a better understanding of how they can better work with underprivileged children at their schools.
The group, which consists of four teachers from the Pro-Education Foundation and two deans from UDELAS, a Panama university, arrived Sunday. The week's schedule includes several training sessions that will focus on working with difficult and stressed parents, gender issues and adolescent behavior, interventions in the classroom, and tools for teachers in the classroom.
Additionally, the group will visit and train with staff at Area Cooperative for Educational Support (ACES), an alternative school serving northwest Missouri, and at the Clarinda Academy residential care facility in Clarinda, Iowa.
The group will tour Horace Mann Lab School, the Child and Family Center of Northwest Missouri and Conception Abby. They will visit Kansas City on Saturday and are scheduled to depart on Sunday.
Missouri Commissioner of Higher Education Robert Stein will attend a dinner with the Panama group on Tuesday night. On Wednesday, the group will have dinner with President Dr. John Jasinski and other Northwest dignitaries.
Instructors from the two regions built a relationship last July when a small group of faculty members and students traveled to Panama for a week-long service learning trip. The team organized workshops and seminars for parents and teachers at a school for underprivileged children.
Dr. Carla Edwards, associate professor and chair of the psychology, sociology and counseling department, is coordinating the week-long visit. Edwards said last summer's exchange was positive for both the Panama and Northwest representatives.
"They were kind of fascinated with some of the things that we did," Edwards said. "When you are in a rough neighborhood, you have to work even harder to build a good relationship with the parents, and they were still at that place where it's like '(the parents) are not coming in so why bother.' We brought the parents in when we were in Panama, and we worked with the parents."
After the trip, the group invited the Panama instructors to Northwest to exchange additional insights and training. This week's trip is being funded by Culture of Quality grants.
In August, five students and six professors will return to Panama on another service learning trip. The six professors involved in the project are, representing the psychology, sociology and counseling department, Edwards, Dr. Roger Neustadter, Dr. Jerry Barnett, and Dr. Ryan Wessell, and representing the educational leadership department, Dr. Joyce Piveral and Dr. Janet Glenn. During the trip, Piveral and Glenn plan to explore international student teaching opportunities.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
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