News Release — The Sharon Academy
March 17, 2017
SHARON, Vt. – On Monday, March 13, a group of educators from the Kyrgyz Republic found themselves in a familiar spot in a most unfamiliar land. As part of their visit to The Sharon Academy (TSA) for a cross-cultural conversation about education, the four visitors from the mountainous Central Asian country gathered in a yurt, the traditional tent dwellings of their homeland and one of four, used as classrooms, at the school. In a day full of new insights and a respectful exchange of ideas, the surroundings were one of many successful parts of a memorable day.
The group included the Director of National Testing Center, a primary school teacher, a chief specialist, and the Head of the Methodology Department. All four were visiting the United States for the first time. Over the course of the visit, they talked formally and informally with faculty, students, and staff at the High School and Middle School.
With two professionals providing simultaneous translation, there was rich conversation about the different methods for educating rural populations in the Kyrgyz Republic and small town Vermont. Though the cultural differences are many — the system in the Kyrgyz Republic is more rigid than here, with school uniforms, national standards, and formal lecturing being the norm — there was evident respect and appreciation from both the hosts and guests during their time together. How, the educators wondered, could they adopt some of the American techniques and approaches in that cultural framework? The students impressed their visitors with their articulate presentations and questions, and the educators got to see school life outside of academics when they witnessed ongoing preparations for the annual circus at the Middle School.
For Head of School Michael Livingston, it was a remarkable day. “I have never been part of anything like this visit in my years as an educator. It was an extraordinary day, and I am hopeful we can continue to communicate with our new friends and colleagues in the years ahead,” he said.
The visit was organized by the Vermont Council on World Affairs (VCWA), based in Burlington. Under the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), the U.S. Department of State’s premier professional exchange program, the educators were nominated and ultimately selected for the trip to the U.S. VCWA staff applied to be one of the host states for the visit, highlighting Vermont’s rural character and educational excellence.
“Because of the unique structure of the The Sharon Academy with public and private students, and the innovative approaches to rural education, TSA was a natural fit for this type of visit,” said Vinson Pierce, Manager of Global Engagement at the VCWA.
After TSA, delegation members continued their tour of the United States, which includes stops in five states, Washington, DC, and a tour of the Vermont State House.