USA/Scotland exchange visit April 2014

0

Posted by upbeat | Posted in Collaboration, Creativity, Curriculum for Excellence, International Education, Leadership for Learning | Posted on April 15, 2014

Last week students in Northern Valley Schools, New Jersey welcomed 24 students and 4 staff from Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland. Families of students in Demarest and Old Tappan schools kindly hosted young people from Castle Douglas and Dalbeattie for the week of 5-12 April. This was our reciprocal visit to the USA following the American students’ visit to Dumfries & Galloway in April 2013.

SATURDAY

We had a good flight on United Airlines from Glasgow to Newark Liberty International Airport on Saturday 5th April. It was a very pleasant surprise to be met by Northern Valley friends greeting us warmly at the airport. From there we headed for Demarest High School to meet all host families. In the evening we went to the Ice Skating Rink at the Palisades Centre.

SUNDAY

Sunday was a day for host families to spend some quality time with the new arrivals. Our students were involved in a wide range of activities with their hosts. The weather was superb today and I was delighted to take part in a game of golf at River Vale Country Club.

A beautiful day for a game of golf!

A beautiful day for a game of golf!

Later that afternoon our chaperone group enjoy a traditional thanksgiving-style meal at Steve and Elaine O’Neill’s house.

Fiona and Chris enjoying the sunshine!

Fiona and Chris enjoying the sunshine!

Elaine & Steve hosted us for a delicious thanksgiving style meal.

Elaine & Steve hosted us for a delicious thanksgiving style meal.

Kay, Evan and April on Sunday afternoon.

Kay, Evan and April on Sunday afternoon.

 

Claudia, Susan and Nancy

Claudia, Susan and Nancy

 

 

 

 

 

 

MONDAY

Today we all meet up at Demarest at 7.45am and take a private coach to New York City. Highlight of the day is a boat trip to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island. In the afternoon we visit the Reflecting Pools commemorating those lost in the World Trade Center tragedy.

Standing at 1776 feet, the Freedom Tower

Standing at 1776 feet, the Freedom Tower

Fiona on Liberty Island at the Statue of Liberty

Fiona on Liberty Island at the Statue of Liberty

 

Reflecting Pool at the World Trade Center site

Reflecting Pool at the World Trade Center site

TUESDAY

Today we have a very full and exciting day, starting in Central Park at the ‘Imagine’ commemoration for John Lennon.

Strawberry Fields in Central Park, New York remembering John Lennon

Strawberry Fields in Central Park, New York remembering John Lennon

We then head for the Museum of Natural History and then an opportunity for shopping at Times Square.

At the Museum of Natural History

At the Museum of Natural History

Our dinner at Ellen’s Stardust Diner features our waiters and waitresses also starring as Broadway singers in their own right!

Waiters and waitresses take their chance to sing on Broadway!

Waiters and waitresses take their chance to sing on Broadway!

After our meal we head to the Broadway show, ”Wicked”, which is for many of our group a highlight of the week. A truly excellent show.

Everyone enjoyed the show!

Everyone enjoyed the show!

 

 

IMG_9437Wednesday

Today, we all go to school, either at Old Tappan or Demarest. It’s very interesting to visit a range of classes in a New Jersey school. The schools are very well equipped with technology and other resources. In the evening, all the chaperones enjoyed a lovely meal at Claudia and Evan Cooper’s house. Claudia’s cooking is wonderful. I even took a picture of breakfast!

Strawberrys, pancakes and bacon….mmm….

Strawberrys, pancakes and bacon….mmm….

Thursday

Today our group takes on the challenge of the Project Adventure ropes course. Everyone has their own challenges and successes on this, with beautiful weather today helping all to enjoy the outdoor activities. In the evening we have a formal reception at Old Tappan with a few speeches and exchanges of gifts.

All smiles at the evening reception

All smiles at the evening reception

 

 

Dr Chris Nagy, totally committed to the success of the exchange visit

Superintendent Dr Chris Nagy, a great advocate for the Northern Valley / Dumfries & Galloway partnership

 

Cool dudes

Some cool dudes

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Northern Valley hosts

Our Northern Valley hosts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday

Another very full day starting at the Empire State Building with wonderful 360 views of New York and New Jersey from the top.

From the top of the Empire State Building looking towards the Freedom Tower and the Statue of Liberty

From the top of the Empire State Building looking towards the Freedom Tower and the Statue of Liberty.

 

We then go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This massive museum houses a huge range of amazing artefacts.

George Washington crossing the Delaware in December 1776

Famous painting of George Washington crossing the Delaware in December 1776 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the evening we all board ‘The Spirit of New Jersey’ for an evening cruise and dinner. We enjoyed fantastic views of New York from the boat and also of the illuminated Statue of Liberty.

Everyone looking forward to the evening cruise and dinner

Everyone looking forward to the evening cruise and dinner

 

 

 

Chaperone team USA/Scotland prepare to board 'The Spirit of New Jersey'

Chaperone team USA/Scotland prepare to board ‘The Spirit of New Jersey’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This has been a week we’ll never forget! Many thanks to all our friends and families in Northern Valley, New Jersey.

Great views of New York City by night from the boat

Great views of New York City by night from the boat

Digital Commonwealth Launch @ Platform, Easterhouse, Glasgow

0

Posted by upbeat | Posted in Collaboration, Creativity, Curriculum for Excellence, ICT, International Education, Learning & Teaching | Posted on October 27, 2013

On Friday I attended the very successful Digital Commonwealth Launch at Platform in Easterhouse, Glasgow.  The project is funded by the Big Lottery, the Media Trust and the University of the West of Scotland.

In the schools strand of the project, the aim is to involve young people in each of Scotland’s local authority areas in digital reporting of Commonwealth themes (place, people, culture, exchange) in leading up to the Queen’s Baton Relay in June 2014. Learners from 32 school clusters from targeted areas of the most socio-economic need will be offered an opportunity to participate.

IMG_0789The schools programme will promote digital literacy skills through a series of in-school training workshops, using readily available technology to help pupils tell their own stories through blogs, video, audio and social media. Participating schools will receive learning materials which can help support existing and/or new school projects.  These materials will support topics such as e-safety, copyright, active citizenship and media ethics to assist pupils in developing skills and knowledge to produce creative, appropriate and engaging content.

 

Digital Commonwealth launch

Heading for Australia

0

Posted by upbeat | Posted in Collaboration, Creativity, ICT, International Education, Learning & Teaching | Posted on July 13, 2013

sydney-opera-house-482x298All seems a bit unreal, but my case is nearly packed and I think I’ve got all the paperwork I need (train/plane tickets, accommodation arrangements) to get me to Sydney and Melbourne this coming week. I’m heading for the Rural Education Conference at Moonee Valley Racecourse in Melbourne 18/19 July and really looking forward to taking part and meeting teachers from across Victoria. Hopefully I’ll be posting some interesting blog reports (if I have time!) over the next 3 weeks.

Europe v USA at Southerness Golf Club

0

Posted by upbeat | Posted in Collaboration, International Education | Posted on April 16, 2013

I had a great time last Wednesday at Southerness Golf Club with Dumfries & County Golf Club former Captain Ian McEwan, and American friends Dr Chris Nagy and Steve O’Neill. The weather was beautiful, perfect for a round of golf as we took some time out in the midst of a hectic education exchange visit. The Southerness course provided a challenge for us all as we took part in our own fun Ryder Cup event. This picture, taken last month at the Scottish Golf Show in Glasgow is the closest I’m ever likely to get to the Ryder Cup!

Fun and games!

0

Posted by upbeat | Posted in Health & Well Being, International Education | Posted on April 16, 2013

Whether you’re from Scotland, the USA or anywhere else in the world, everyone (of all ages) likes to get together and just have fun! The 48 kids and 9 chaperones that made up our New Jersey / Dumfries & Galloway exchange group had a great time at Cream O’ Galloway, Xscape and on the water at Loch Ken. The pictures say it all!


USA / Scotland exchange visit

0

Posted by upbeat | Posted in Collaboration, Creativity, Health & Well Being, International Education | Posted on April 16, 2013

Young people from Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland and Northern Valley, New Jersey shared a week-long exchange with visits to a variety of cultural places of interest. They also had great fun at Xscape in Glasgow on the snow and kayaking at Loch Ken. The weather was great, although a tumble into the loch felt more than a little refreshing!

Visit from New Jersey, USA to Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland

0

Posted by upbeat | Posted in Collaboration, Creativity, International Education, Learning & Teaching | Posted on April 12, 2013

We’ve had the most fantastic time this past week with young people and staff from New Jersey, USA on an exchange visit with students from Dalbeattie and Castle Douglas, Dumfries & Galloway. The weather all week has been great, allowing us to enjoy visits to Hadrian’s Wall, Edinburgh, Glasgow and today at Ellisland Farm (where Robert Burns famously wrote Auld Lang Syne and Tam O’Shanter). This afternoon we enjoyed fun (and ice-cream!) at Cream O’ Galloway, near Gatehouse. Chaperones of the group also visited Drumlanrig Castle on Tuesday when the students were kayaking at Loch Ken. Tonight the farewell meal and disco takes place at the Douglas Arms Hotel, Castle Douglas with everyone this evening already anticipating and looking forward to the reciprocal visit to Northern Valley, New Jersey in April 2014. The young people of Demarest, Old Tappan, Castle Douglas and Dalbeattie have been a credit to their families and schools. For many, this week will have seen the start of lifelong friendships.

Music Education Expo, Barbican Centre, London

1

Posted by upbeat | Posted in Collaboration, Creativity, Curriculum for Excellence, International Education, Leadership for Learning, Learning & Teaching, New Learning, video conferencing | Posted on April 4, 2013



Over 3000 delegates signed up for the UK’s largest ever music education conference. Sponsored by Rhinegold publishing, and with the endorsement of Boris Johnson (Mayor of London) the event took place in the Barbican Centre, London on Wednesday 20th and Thursday 21st March. I was pleased to be invited by the editor of Music Teacher magazine, Chris Walters to present at the Music Technology session on our video conference teaching programmes. Polycom UK gave great support to my presentation, enabling me with ease to have a live link with John Wallace (Principal at the Royal Scottish Conservatoire) in Glasgow; with Grant Golding (brass tutor) demonstrating a live lesson to a pupil in a Dumfries & Galloway school; and with Christianne Orto (Dean of Distance Learning) in the Manhattan School of Music, New York. Many thanks to all participants who assisted in demonstrating the amazing potential of video conferencing for learning and teaching.

Visit from Nelson Mandela’s bodyguard, Chris Lubbe

0

Posted by upbeat | Posted in Collaboration, International Education, Learning & Teaching | Posted on April 4, 2013

Almost a 1000 kids in Dumfries & Galloway schools were totally captivated, thrilled and amazed to hear Chris Lubbe share stories from his life in South Africa. I had the pleasure of hosting Chris from Sunday 3rd through to Thursday 7th March when we visited 13 schools across the region (10 in person, 3 by video-link). To hear Chris tell stories about how he became a member of the illegal ANC party in a struggle with Nelson Mandela to free the country of the shocking apartheid system of inequality and brutality was truly amazing and inspiring for all, young and old, who listened to him.


Chris received a very warm welcome in schools and also spoke one evening in a hotel at an open meeting, and on another occasion with some friends at my house. Through all his stories of the harsh laws and unfairness of apartheid, Chris’s message to young people in schools was uplifting, encouraging all to forgive each other, to be kind to each other and to show love and concern for everyone we meet in life. Chris was so well received everywhere he went that there is now a great demand for him to return to Dumfries & Galloway soon!

Gordon Brown – UN Special Envoy for Global Education

0

Posted by upbeat | Posted in Collaboration, Health & Well Being, ICT, International Education, Leadership for Learning, Learning & Teaching, video conferencing | Posted on November 25, 2012

Last Thursday, at the ADES (Association of Directors of Education) conference at the Westerwood Hotel, Cumbernauld I was very honoured to be in the company of Gordon Brown to hear him speaking on global education issues. The UK’s former prime minister has taken on the role of Special Envoy for Global Education for the United Nations.

He was very challenging (in a non-political way) to everyone in the room as to how each of us might support his mission of bringing education to all children in the world. He spoke very passionately of the value of education to children across the world and of his hopes and plans to improve matters in a radical way. His challenge to us was for us to support and encourage  Scottish schools to lead the way in linking and partnering schools in Africa and India in the next few years, particularly as internet connectivity continues to improve in these places.

I’m hoping our schools in Dumfries & Galloway can continue to build links with schools in areas of need in the world, possibly through our growing video conference infrastructure in all secondary and many primary schools.

Skip to toolbar