From Colorado to Korumburra
ROUGHLY 14,000 kilometres from home, Theresa Drewer is taking on a class full of nine and 10 year olds, and loving it.
Ms Drewer is teaching a Grade 4 class at Korumburra Primary School for 2013 as part of an exchange program.
Candice Huntly, the usual Grade 4 teacher at the school, has swapped classrooms and is taking on Ms Drewer’s class in Grand Junction, Colorado for the year.
The pair has swapped jobs and houses for the year in what should be an interesting experience for both.
Ms Drewer said it was a perfect swap.
“We’re really similar, we’re both single, we’d both been teaching for the same amount of time, both taught Grade 4,” she said.
“When I was looking for a place to go, I found Candice’s application and I really liked where she lived and her community here in Korumburra.
“I liked the fact that it was close to the beach, close to the mountains and close to the big mountains and thought it would be a good place to go to.”
Living in Australia for just over a month now, Ms Drewer is settling in well.
“The community has been fantastic and all the people at KPS have been so helpful,” she said.
“I have been able to borrow a car from one of the co-workers that I have here so I am able to go around and see things.
“I go to the beach at least three times a week because I live in Colorado which is a land locked state so there are no beaches nearby.”
The students at the school are impressing Ms Drewer with their courtesy and she is enjoying the time in the classroom.
“I enjoy working with these kids. They are always saying pardon and ma’am which I’m not used to,” she said.
“In Colorado I teach at a low socio-economic school, the lowest in the district, so the kids there have pretty troubled backgrounds and some of the families are incarcerated. Here there is a lot more family support and involvement.
“I think that has a lot to do with why the kids are just such great kids here. They have a lot of support from their families.”
The Australian curriculum, which is less examination based, is “different, but in a good way” according to Ms Drewer.
“It’s more focused around students enjoying school and they’re a little bit more creative here because it’s not just test, test, test,” she said.
“I think that coming here gives me a little bit more love of teaching again. I was kind of getting burnt out with all the structure and rigor in the US.
“Here kids are having fun and creating, and they are just a lot more expressive and I appreciate that.”
However Ms Drewer did say the less structured curriculum made it hard to fit a full day of education in without getting sidetracked.
The technology in the classrooms at Korumburra is a highlight.
“I love being able to use the netbooks and technology in the classroom,” Ms Drewer said.
“They’re teaching me how to use the netbooks because we don’t have that in the US.
“It’s neat to use the computers and the technology with the education and the curriculum because I’ve never got to do that before.”
You might not think a language barrier from USA to Australia would exist but Ms Drewer has had blank looks from some children who don’t understand her.
“I remember telling kids to pick up trash off the floor and put it in the trash can,” she said.
“Because they call them bins and rubbish they all just looked at me a bit weird.
“Some of the spelling is a bit funny too with words like favourite and colour and mom and mum. One of my goals this year is to spell all of the words correctly the way that Australians spell them.”
Ms Drewer is teaching at Korumburra for all of 2013 and will head back to Colorado late in December.
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