After spending time working in, living in and experiencing Slovakia, Mark Lencho, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and his wife, Betsy, a teacher at the School District of Janesville, have a desire to open communications between and create a partnership with Slovakian schools and the School District of Janesville. They view this partnership as strategic and beneficial for both school systems involved.
The Lenchos see one primary focus of such a partnership being the study of language. In Slovakia, elementary school students are taught in Slovak, as well as two other foreign languages. This type of program not only exposes students to foreign languages at an early age, but also immerses them in the language. Language education continues to be an emphasis throughout the child’s schooling, and each high school graduate must be proficient in both English and one other foreign language. Exposing our students to this polylingual mindset has potential to expand their views on studying and immersing themselves in a foreign language, increase their global competency and marketability and help them become a more active global citizen.
Slovakian high schools follow in line with many other European schools, where they utilize fast tracking. This means that when students enter high school, they will already begin training for a particular occupation. One of the two high schools that Mark and Betsy have connected with has a Spanish emphasis, where students receive their education in Spanish, building fluent speakers. Partnering with this school would provide a unique opportunity for School District of Janesville (SDJ) students. Typically, when forming a language
Although foreign exchange programs could be utilized to maximize the experience, there is potential to simply use technology. Students would be able to do a cultural exchange via the Internet.
Currently, this concept is in the beginning stages; however, it is being explored as an option for our students. The SDJ staff desire that our students would be provided an excellent, well-rounded, global education that strengthens them for their future.