By Chris Dodge
Special to the Messenger

Students in Fletcher celebrated International Education Week with a school-wide cultural read-aloud on Monday.

A collaboration between the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education, International Education Week aims to promote the exchange of learning world-wide, promote programs that prepare Americans for the global environment, and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn and exchange experiences.

Kindergarten teacher Cathy O’Brien reads a story to students during the school’s whole-school read aloud celebration of International Education Week on Monday.

Fletcher’s school-based leadership team members each selected a children’s book that reflects an international theme. Some of the books celebrated education specifically, while others shared cultural experiences. At a whole-school gathering, each reader presented a one-minute “book talk” about their chosen story and students then selected the book they wanted to hear. Following the read-aloud, the books each became available to students and staff in the school library.

“We came together to celebrate and appreciate our similarities and differences and learn about others,” instructional coach and leadership team member Denette Locke said. “In this small way, our world became just a little bit smaller for our students.”

“Every time I learn something new about a different place or different people I feel like I know them a little better and get more and interested in how things are different in other places,” sixth grader Monica King said. “I also learned that even though we do a lot of things differently around the world we are mostly the same.” 

Fletcher’s cultural read-aloud was a registered event with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Exchange Programs. The books that were read included, Waiting on the Biblioburro, the story of how library books are delivered by donkey in another country, as well as Tikki Tikki Temboa playful tale of Chinese culture, among others. 

“Our school’s leadership team understands that we are a small, rural school. At the same time we provide a tremendous amount of individual attention, we also recognize that our size and geographic location can be culturally isolating for our students. We have a responsibility to bring the world to students in an effort to help them understand, respect and problem-solve with others,” special educator and leadership team member Sarah Tucker said. 

“In addition to the cultural aspects, ” Tucker said, “this type of literacy-based learning also reminds our students that they can easily learn about, and connect with, people and places around the world through the great literature they have at their fingertips at school. It’s a good reminder that you can visit people and places across the globe without leaving Fletcher.”

International Education week takes place simultaneously with American Education week.