July 31, 2004
First, they’ll swap countries. Then, they’ll swap classrooms.
A year later, two teachers from Chandler and Bulgaria will return to their native schools to share what they have learned abroad through the Fulbright Teacher and Administrator Exchange Program.
Lucee Seiter, a Chandler High School teacher, heads on Sept. 1 to Sofia, Bulgaria, where she will teach sophomores at the German Language High School to speak English.
In exchange, Bulgarian teacher Violeta Tzoneva began teaching freshman English at Chandler’s Hamilton High School this week.
Already some differences are apparent.
For instance, Tzoneva said American students seem to perceive school differently than their Bulgarian counterparts.
"Some of them don’t want to read, they don’t want to speak, they don’t want to write," she said.
That could in large part be due to a teaching style in the United States that focuses on group activities, Seiter said.
"We stress creative thinking and ‘freedom to do’ and cooperative learning so much," Seiter said. "For U.S. children, school is a right. In Bulgaria, it’s a privilege."
Bulgarian high schools focus on future goals, such as majoring in the German language. The competition to score the highest grades and get into preferred colleges is fierce, Tzoneva said.
The teachers hope to begin sharing their experiences this year using a Web site Tzoneva will establish that also will allow students to write to each other and post photos.
Todd Daniels, a teacher at Chandler’s Sanborn Elementary School, already is teaching in Edinburgh, Scotland, as part of the Fulbright program.