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MPS (and UConn) Host Professors From Chile

When UCONN's Dr. Eliana Rojas reached out to our own Coordinator of ESL and Community Relations, Dr. Mellie Crespo-Jimenez, it was to ask if Manchester would be willing to provide a tour to visiting university professors from Chile. Excited at the prospect of hosting the guests for a day on 10/19, Mellie collaborated with Vonetta Romeo-Rivers, Director of Talent Development, to coordinate classroom visits at Verplanck and Bennet, with a culminating luncheon and professional dialogue.

First stop was to Katy Vicchitto's 1st grade class and Ronnie Suracci's 4th grade class at Verplanck. The professors revealed that with 40 students in public school classrooms in Chile, there is no room for teachers to engage in the kind of personalized learning they witnessed in both classrooms.  They shook their heads in wonder at the pervasive promotion of hopes and dreams for students, the "you can do it" reminders, the walls chock full of instructional tools - they took pictures and videos.  They said it was evidence of the high expectations teachers have for their students.

Patricia Honores Mamani and Dr. Marcela Prieto Ferraro were among the visitors who observed Catherine Silagi's Math class and Karl Mordhorst' Science class at Bennet.  They were struck by the classroom arrangements, the center work and workshop model that allowed for students to work on different skills during the same class period.  Students were working in teams,  helping each other, using technology, moving around at will, fully engaged in learning, self-directed, and not at all "passive" learners.
During the luncheon and professional sharing, our guests were interested in our instructional model for supporting English Language Learners, our family engagement practices and our professional development framework.  They were also curious about how we, as a district that boasts 35 different languages and has student representation from 68 countries, foster multiculturalism. There was a rich, engaging conversation about diversity, equity, public school vs private school access based on wealth, and the changing social dynamics with the rise of immigrants arriving in Chile.  "We are not yet prepared to create these inter-cultural classrooms in Chile, " said Dr. Diana Veneros Ruiz-Tagle. "You can also feel the passion of the teachers here - you can see it and feel it -  and it is a beautiful thing to witness."
A special thanks to the Nicolas Jones, Joseph Chella, Katy Vicchitto, Ronnie Suracci, Catherine Silagi, Karl Mordhorst, Luis Moyano, and Mary Lou Ruggerio for being wonderful ambassadors of MPS.
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