By Brian Stanley
For the Bugle
As Troy students have gotten back into the rhythm of the school year, one faculty member can remain confident she traveled the farthest this summer.
District Administrator Kristin Johnson recently spent 10 days in Nepal where she conducted math workshops with teachers and worked with educators and fourth grade students in their classrooms.
Johnson, Troy’s Director of Curriculum and Assessment, was chosen by Origo Education to be its United States educator representative with the not-for-profit STEM education organization, Teachers2Teachers Global. She applied for the sponsorship because she wanted to share with the Nepali teachers the methods she has learned work best in teaching mathematics to young students.
“I saw it as an opportunity to share the experiences I’ve had teaching math,” she said, “and to become a part of a global mathematics education community.”
The New Way of Teaching Math workshops included hands-on lessons and student-to-student interaction in the classroom.
“I think we were really able to make a difference in sharing with the teachers how students can help each other learn by interacting with each other and by using visual models,” Johnson explained. “We also showed students how to see math as more than an abstract concept. We helped them understand the conceptual side of math – focusing on the ideas behind the math and how these ideas extend to other concepts.”
The programs were held in the cities of Kathmandu, Bharatpur and Pohkara, and the coaching sessions were held at Gandaki Boarding School in Pohkara, which is 7,602 miles from Shorewood.
“Teachers do a lot of amazing things for their students all over the world,” Johnson said. “At Gandaki, they had classes of 42 kids and very few resources to support them, in comparison to all of the things we are afforded here at home.” As an example, the models of triangles, squares and rectangles used in Gandaki were handcarved blocks of wood.
“I was with educators from all over the world,” Johnson said. “We felt bonded by the commitment we each had to better ourselves for students. The heart of a teacher, no matter his or her location, is always focused on the students.”
She will also be able to bring new ways of thinking and perspectives back to the Troy schools.
“I went to help,” she said, “but I had no idea how much I would take away myself, on so many levels. I learned ways of doing things from them, as well.”
“We are very proud of Kristin,” Troy Superintendent Dr. Todd Koehl said. “The fact that Troy was represented in Nepal by Kristin is a testament to her commitment to teaching and learning.”
Johnson also described the people of Nepal as very friendly and welcoming. Besides the workshops she visited Buddhist temples, went on a safari and took a mountain flight to see Mt. Everest.