When you think of international travel destinations, the small town of Traer, Iowa doesn't necessarily share the same cache as Paris, or Rome, for that matter. But that's just what Traer was to a group of four teachers from the American Overseas School of Rome.
The group visited North Tama schools and had the opportunity to interact with students, teachers, community leaders and the public during their week in town. The visit was the culmination of a partnership between the AOSR and North Tama that began when former North Tama Elementary principal Steve Foster accepted a position at the Rome school. North Tama counselor Teresa Keefe O'Meara visited the AOSR earlier in the year, and the four teachers who came to Iowa this time did so for more than just a vacation.
The group had the opportunity to learn about some of the cutting-edge educational techniques the district is using to keep students engaged and interested in learning. One of the most important things the teachers noticed was the emphasis that is placed on reading at North Tama.
Last week, North Tama schools hosted teachers from Rome. Here, the group poses at a barbecue at the home of Superintendant Bob Cue. They are (second from L to R): Simona Reichmann, Counselor; Miriam O’Brien, Reading Specialist; Susan Prideaux, Elementary Coordinator; Katherine Antinucci, Kindergarten Teacher. For more photos and info, read the story below and turn to page 2 of this week’s Traer-Star Clipper.
"These students read at a consistently high level, and in all settings," Miriam O'Brien, Reading Specialist at AOSR said. "They also seem to have a good set of values, and that's a reflection of how well their parents and the schools here have helped shape them."
Among the things the group took home with them after their time in Traer was the new conflict management program North Tama schools have begun using. The program allows students to settle conflicts in a healthy and constructive manner, encouraging them to take more responsibility for their actions and be more a part of the solution, as opposed to simply receiving punishment.
The teachers were also impressed with the Daily 5 program that has been working wonders for elementary school students in their reading and comprehension levels.
But it wasn't all business for the educators. In addition to their time at the school, they also had the chance to visit local landmarks, dine at many local restaurants, tour the John Deere factory in Waterloo and enjoy some wine at Fox Ridge before capping the week off with an old-fashioned barbecue at the home of Superintendant Bob Cue. There were teachers and members of the community there to enjoy some hot dogs and refreshments despite the cold and blustery weather.
For the AOSR teachers, the week they spent in Iowa is something they'll never forget.
"Everyone here has been amazing, and we had an incredible time," O'Brien said. "We especially want to thank all the families who have hosted us, the people of Traer and of course Superintendant Bob Cue for making us feel welcome in Iowa."