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August 28, 2008
Teachers trade jobs and homes
|Souhegan Spanish teacher Bernard D?Amours, right, is trading places with Colombian English teacher Janneth Neira. |
BEDFORD, New Hampshire (STPNS) -- AMHERST ? In her native Colombia, Janneth Neira taught English as a foreign language. But, this year the Fulbright Scholarwill be teaching Spanish to Souhegan students.
Neira, 32, of Bogota, Colombia, will be literally trading places with Souhegan High School Spanish teacher Bernard D?Amours. She will be living in his home in Bedford and he will live in her apartment in Bogota.
?It?s been very exciting; everything is so different,? said Neira during a teacher?s breakfast on Monday.
?For me it will be a different experience to teach Spanish as a foreign language.?
She says American homes and schools are bigger than those in Colombia.
?Everything is so huge,? she said as she walked down Souhegan?s hall to show a reporter her new classroom.
Neira taught at Misael Pastrana Borrero School, south of Bogota, the capital city of Colombia. The state-run school has 1,400 students split into two shifts. Most of the children come from a working class background.
By contrast, Souhegan draws about 974 students from Amherst and Mont Vernon.
D?Amours and Neira are co-creators of a Web site so they can share their experiences with their respective students. The Web site is fulbrighteacherexchange.webs.com.
She describes her school in Colombia:
?Misael Pastrana has a staff of about 24 full-time teachers per shift. The building is not enough big for the amount of students, but it is mandatory for state schools to cover most of the population around it,? wrote Neira on the Web site.
?It is composed of three buildings, one of them for the administrative staff, the other for pre- school students and the biggest one with most of the classrooms, a laboratory, a library and two computer rooms.?
Neira has been a teacher for 15 years and started when she was only 17 years old.
English was Neira?s favorite subject because she always wanted to understand the lyrics of her favorite rock band, Guns N? Roses.
Neira said she is one of four Fulbright winners from Colombia.
The others are teaching in Ohio, California and Georgia.
Souhegan Principal Scott Prescott said the Fulbright program has provided the high school with a wonderful opportunity that will be a benefit for years to come because D?Amours will be able to share his experiences when he comes back. Prescott also said he had great confidence in Neira?s teaching.
While Neira hopes to excite students about Colombia, new teacher Kelli Warecki will be sharing her love of Latin with Souhegan students for the first time.
?This is my first official teaching job,? said Warecki, 27, of Weare. ?It?s definitely a different experience being in front of a classroom instead of being a learner behind a desk.?
She says Latin is her passion because it?s the root of our language and culture.
?It?s the coolest,? she said.
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