Day 4: A Visit with American Students at Salzburg College

NSBA Pres. Miranda Beard (far left) and AASA Pres. David Schuler (center) meet with American students at Salzburg College.

NSBA Pres. Miranda Beard (far left) and AASA Pres. David Schuler (center) meet with American students at Salzburg College.

Salzburg, Austria—We are at Salzburg College visiting with a group of American exchange students. Most of them are here for the fall semester but several will be staying on for the entire year.

Students come from all corners of America and admit this is a wonderful opportunity for them. Most did not speak German when they arrived, but they are quickly gaining fluency in the language. They spent the first week in Munich and then traveled to Vienna before settling in for their classes.

Miranda Beard, president of the National School Boards Association, asked, “What was the most important thing they would be taking away from this experience?” The group unanimously agreed that it would be the immersion in a different language and culture, and a better understanding of the world outside of the U.S. Indeed, Salzburg College’s vision for the program aims at “teaching students to think critically in a global world, as well as gaining academic and professional skills, and skills for life.”

Certainly all of us visiting the program were envious of the experience and wished that we could have done it in our college days.

Most students will receive full credit for the experience from their home institutions and many were able to secure financial aid. The full-year students have internships lined up for the spring semester, which will add immeasurable experience to their resumes as they seek employment after graduation.

Dan Domenech, executive director of AASA, The School Superintendents Association, is blogging throughout AASA’s International Seminar Delegation in Austria.

Day 2 in Austria: Austrian Love for Teaching & Learning

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AASA President David Schuler with 3rd grade students at St. Polten Primary School

St. Polten, Austria – As a former building administrator and now with AASA, there are certain signs I look for when I first walk into a classroom to tell me if I am in the presence of a good teacher. In Senta Seidel’s third grade class, I saw students physically clinging to her as if they were afraid she might leave them. I asked a young lady why they were clinging to their teacher. She answered, “Because we love her.” Ms. Seidel made it clear—she loves her students in return.

Primary schools in Austria are grades 1-4. Ending at lunch time, it is a relatively short day for students, but child care is offered after school. Students also have the option to avail themselves for extra assistance from their teachers should they need it.

Austria, like many other European countries, is being inundated by Syrian refugees. As many as 10,000 refugees are coming into Austria every day. Many of the refugee children are finding their ways to school doors and are asking for admission.

Unfortunately, schools are not receiving any additional governmental support to deal with the crisis. Consequently the school head mistress turns to the staff and asks them to do whatever they can for the children, and they do. That is why teachers like Ms. Seidel are loved.

It is heartwarming to see that, regardless of the country we visit on these international seminars, teachers and principals are always there to go the extra mile for their students.

Dan Domenech, executive director of AASA, The School Superintendents Association, is blogging throughout AASA’s International Seminar Delegation in Austria.