Douglas County Board of Education Vice Chair Michelle Simmons will experience personal and educational growth through a five week program this summer in Ghana. The curriculum and development project for American educators is funded through the Fulbright-Hayes Group Projects Abroad. The goal of the program is to develop an understanding of educational practices abroad and to develop social and professional relationships with people in the global community.
“My life’s journey has brought me back to my beginning,” said Ms. Simmons. “To have the opportunity to visit my homeland brings me to tears. I look forward to walking where my ancestors walked and learning more about a rich culture that I am proud to say is a part of who I am. I am excited and humbled to have been selected to experience Ghana with fellow educators and to share my experiences with others upon my return.”
Ms. Simmons will study at the University of Ghana in Accra with a team of 15 participants. Topics include the origin and history of the Akan Twi language, the geography of the area, and the role of politics and media. She will learn about the structure and funding of the Ghanaian education system; assessments used to advance/promote students; public vs. private education; and the role of technology in the classroom. Ms. Simmons will brainstorm with curriculum specialists about creating teaching models based on information gathered in the Ghanaian Lecture-Series and cultural/ site visits, emphasizing the issues of stereotype and misguided information in teaching and learning about Africa in the classroom.
Teacher-to-teacher meetings to discuss classroom management and an overview of successes and challenges in teaching K-12 will also be a part of the curriculum, along with discussions about professional development for teachers and the establishment of formal or informal “sister school” relationships with the American teachers.
Currently, Ms. Simmons works as a special education teacher in a metro Atlanta county. She looks forward to sharing her learning and experiences upon her return.