Three Kennesaw State University students helped Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal prepare for a summer trade mission to Brazil.
When Jori Mosley, LeShaun Dillett, and Michaella Taylor participated in a student teaching abroad program to Brazil in Spring 2015, they had no idea they would go on to become ambassadors for Brazil and Kennesaw State University.
The three comprised a cohort of student teachers from Bagwell College of Education under the direction of Dr. Binbin Jiang that visited the American School of Rio de Janeiro (EARJ) in the spring to work with K-12 classes. EARJ is unique in that it is the only American-style school in Brazil. It offers Brazilian students access to educational programs on par with those in the United States.
"We provide an English-based instructional setting with students from over 35 different countries," said EARJ Headmaster Andrew Sherman, a longtime strategic partner with KSU. "This exposes student teachers to a multi-cultural classroom as well as a new cultural environment, while our students get to interact with another English-speaking adult in the classroom with recent training in contemporary pedagogical practices."
Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal learned about Kennesaw State’s relationship with EARJ while preparing for a Georgia Department of Economic Development trade mission to Brazil with her husband, Governor Nathan Deal. Mrs. Deal is passionate about educating young people, and planned to visit a school while in the country: EARJ.
"The first lady contacted KSU as soon as she learned that we had a program there," said Dr. Lance Askildson, Kennesaw State’s Vice-Provost for Global Affairs. "She invited the student teachers and myself for lunch at the Governor’s Mansion to brief her on the trip."
On Monday, May 11, 2015, Mosley, Dillett, and Taylor were treated to a full tour of the mansion before sitting down to discuss Brazilian culture over lunch with Mrs. Deal.
"She wanted to gather information about Brazilian social and cultural norms through the eyes of native Georgians," said Taylor, a senior in the Early Childhood Education program who taught fourth grade at EARJ. "She wanted to know about our everyday lives there...She was also very interested in learning about the school. She wanted to know about its layout, the students, and the overall culture."
Mrs. Deal planned to lead a classroom reading during her visit to EARJ, and the Kennesaw State students helped her choose the right book for the occasion.
"They helped narrow down her options based on their knowledge of the school and of second-language learners in general," Askildson said. They ultimately decided on T.J.’s Discovery, published by the Rollins Center for Language & Literacy at the Atlanta Speech School and illustrated by Dr. Karinna Riddett-Moore. It is the story of a young girl overcoming her fear of the dark with the help of her family. The book is often used as a teaching tool to help children learn grammar and vocabulary.