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Wesel teacher visits North High

November 11, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - A woman from Hagerstown's sister city of Wesel, Germany, has been getting an up close look at how education differs between the two cities by observing and teaching classes at North Hagerstown High School this month.

"This is quite interesting," Michaela Bez, 25, of Wesel, said during a break Monday before helping teach an earth science class.

Bez arrived in Hagerstown on Oct. 16 and is scheduled to leave the country on Friday.

Bez has been staying with Connie Lenhart, an earth science teacher at North High who is past president of the Hagerstown-Wesel Sister City Affiliation. Lenhart's husband is the current president.

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Lenhart met Bez last summer when she accompanied about 20 North High students who were visiting Wesel as part of the sister city exchange.

When she returns to Germany, Bez will teach English and geography at a bilingual school that Lenhart said is essentially the German equivalent of a magnet school for high-achieving students. Teachers in Germany have to teach two subjects, Bez said.

Bez has been working as a student teacher in Germany and gave up vacation time to come to Hagerstown, Lenhart said.

Bez said she has spent most of her time at North High observing classes in earth science, English, German and sociology, and has taught some lessons.

While she has noted how the schools, instruction and students differ from Wesel to Hagerstown, students have asked her questions so they can learn about Germany.

"They have been quite curious," Bez said.

In one class Monday, students asked Bez what stereotypes Germans had about Americans. She told them the stereotypes include that Americans eat junk food and fast food and spend a lot of time watching television.

Brendan Creegan, 14, a ninth-grade student, said he has learned from Bez about the cultural differences between the two countries. For example, she is more quiet and reserved than American teachers, he said.

While Bez was in the region to learn about the schools, the timing was right for her to observe how Americans acted during the presidential election, Lenhart said.

Bez said she was struck by the number of flags and campaign signs on cars and homes. That would not happen in Germany, where it would be considered unusual to display the flag at a home, she said.

Lenhart described Bez as energetic, curious and thorough.

Lenhart said that while other teachers from the sister city have observed and taught at North High, Bez is different in that she is visiting as she begins her teaching career.

Robert "Bo" Myers, principal of North High, said any visit by a sister city teacher is a positive one.

"It broadens our horizons," Myers said.

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