KCS Teacher of the Year part of summer learning program in Germany

KCS Teacher of the Year part of summer learning program in Germany
Posted on 06/30/2014
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Our Teacher of the Year, Rebecca Merriman, is in Germany on a summer learning expedition with other teachers from NC. It's an exciting opportunity funded by a grant and sponsored by the UNC Center for International Understanding. She is sending blogs and pictures so we can follow her adventure. We are sharing them here. 

Sunday, June 22: I arrived today in Berlin, Germany.  We began our adventure with a walking tour of the city. We traveled through a popular park that was decorated by massive statues. Then we stopped at the Sony Center, where we ate lunch at the Lender House. I had Goulash, a spicy German soup and a soft baked Pretzel. Our final stop before we headed back to the hotel was the Berlin Lego Discovery Center. Here are a few pictures that I took throughout the day! Stay tuned to find out where I will visit next in Germany. If you "wonder" anything about Germany's people, places, foods, or customs please ask! 

Monday, June 23: Hello again Wonderful Wonders. On Monday, we toured the Reichstag Dome, which is like our Capitol Building. It is where the German Parliament meets to make laws. In the center of the building is a large glass dome that is completely open in the center. The open design helps with heating and cooling the building. We then ventured to the Brandenburg Gate. The gate was fenced off in preparation for street fairs to celebrate the World Cup soccer match. The USA will be playing against Germany in the upcoming game. We followed up by taking a bus ride throughout the city. We saw the German Cathedral, Charlottenburg Palace, Berlin Holocaust Memorial, and Check Point Charlie. Tomorrow we are flying to Stuttgart. I will keep the KCS family up to date on our next adventure! Don't forget to let me know what you wonder about Germany!


Rebecca Merriman

Tuesday, June 24: We visited Siemens Manufacturing and Training Facilities. These students are working on a college level to learn technical careers skills. The students focus on learning hands on application first and then the theory behind it second.  This German program is being piloted in the United States. Central Piedmont Community College is a North Carolina partner of Siemens.  It was extremely interesting. The STEM programs that KCS offers are very comparable to the innovations that I observed at this outstanding facility!  After out visit we boarded a plane to fly to Stuttgart! 

Talk to you soon,  Rebecca Merriman


Wednesday, June 25: Hello again Wonders,

It is Wednesday, June 25 we are currently in Stuttgart. It is a beautiful place with lots of lush Forests and historical architecture.  We had a very busy day! We began our day with a round table meeting to discuss the German school system and educational model. After our discussion we drove to primary school called an Uhlandschule. The students ranged on age from 6-10 years old.  The school was rustic with gardens and lots of natural vegetation . They even had an oven that the children use to bake pizzas outside! Many of the schools and buildings in Stuttgart do not have air conditioning they prefer to open windows for natural cooling. I was able to visit a "year one" class which is a lot like Kindergarten in the United Stated.  I was shocked by how little technology was in the classroom I visited. The teacher had a chalk board and CD player to use with her students. We are blessed to have such valuable resources in KCS. The students were very interested and learning likenesses and differences between German and American students.  I was so excited to teach the children a chant in English! They had a blast learning with us too! After we visited the primary school we went to the Mercedes-Benz Museum.  It was very interesting to see how much transportation has changed over the years! Tomorrow we will be visiting a Hauptshule or secondary school to teach a formal lesson and continue to observe the students and teachers. If you wonder anything about the German students please let me know and I will be happy to find out the answers to your inquiries.

T.T.F.N, Rebecca Merriman


Thursday, June 26: Hello again Wonderful Wonders,

Today is Thursday, June 26 we visited and toured the Eschbach-Gymnasium in Stuttgart.  This school is a front runner for using STEM integration in it's classrooms.  We learned first about the school and it's curriculum. They have an amazing natural Science program which allows the students to care for live stock such as goats and tend their own gardens.  They have an exceptional culinary program where students use the things that they harvest when they cook and bake in the classrooms. They use projectors in their classrooms called "beamers." I had the opportunity to teach a lesson to a group of Fifth graders about the likenesses and differences of Germany vs. North Carolina. I collaborated on this lesson with two outstanding teachers from North Carolina, Michelle McManus and Tara Mauney. The students loved hearing about our classrooms and schools.  It was surprising how much the boys and girls in Germany had in common with students for the United States.  Following our visit we packed up and drove by bus to Freiburg.  On or way to Freiburg we stopped and toured the Castle Hohenzollern.  A majestic castle proudly purched in the hills of the Black Forest.  It was truly sight to behold. It is truly a marvel of it's time! Sweet dreams Wonders, I will write you again tomorrow.

Friday, June 27: Hello again Wonders!
Today is Friday, June 27 and it was a busy day in Freiburg! We started our day with a meeting to discuss sustainability in Freiburg. We talked about ecology and education with a representative from the city's department of Ecology. The meeting took place in Freiburg's Town Hall. Afterwards, we visited Freiburg University of Education. We met with Professor Mechthild Hesse to learn more about the process that students that wish to study Primary Education in Germany must go through in order to become a certified teacher. I was shocked to find out that teachers in Germany student teach for 18 months before they can officially become Primary school teachers! Next, we headed to another University to hear more about the courses and expectations for teachers that study education at the Gymnasium or high school level. Then we went on two walking tours. We are all exhausted!!! We have been counting our miles that we have walked during the trip and today we hit 46 miles! We finished our day with a great meal. Tomorrow we are heading to St. Peter deeper in the Black Forest. Wish me luck!
Talk to you again soon,
Rebecca Merriman

Saturday, June 28: Hello again wonderful Wonders,
Today is Saturday, June 28th. We began our day in St. Peter and ended our day in Munich! Our first stop was a guided tour of St. Peter, a small village in the Black Forest, which is among the most energy efficient villages in Germany. The village produces its own energy via solar, wind, water, and other renewable energy technologies. It is considered to be an "energy plus" community which means it makes more energy than it uses. I actually got to see a wind mill up close. I hope that NC will continue to promote energy efficiency throughout the state! Then we hopped back on the bus and headed to Vogtsbauernhof in the Black Forest. Vogtsbauernhof is a museum that has a collection of historic farm houses that have been moved to the property. We toured several of the building but my favorite was the largest of the structures, and it was built in 1737. It is a unique design because of the massive roof. The theory behind the design was to literally have everything under one roof including livestock! After our tour we again boarded the bus and drove to Munich. Tomorrow we will visit Dachau a concentration camp used during World War II. We will also visit Deutsches Museum of science and technology. I would love to answer any of your questions you are wondering about Germany so please keep the questions coming! 
Talk to you soon,
Rebecca Merriman

Sunday, June 29: Guten Abend (good evening) Wonders,

It has been a dreary Sunday in Munich. Today had many highs and lows for this weary traveler. We started our day at Dachau a concentration camp used during World War Two. It was the first concentration camp in Bavaria.The experience was difficult to say the least. It is one thing to read about the holocaust in books but to be physically at Dachau it made the tragedy of what happened during that grim period in history very real to me. We departed Dachau around lunchtime and at lunch at the train station. After lunch, we took a train to the Deutsches Museum of technology and science. It was incredible! My favorite exhibit was about the evolution of all types of transportation. I was so proud to see the Wright brothers' Standard Type A Flyer (1909) suspended from the aeronautics hall! It was nice to see a little bit of North Carolina's so far from home. Tomorrow is another busy day and this tired teacher needs some rest!
Auf Wiedersehen (good bye),
Rebecca Merriman

Monday, June 30: Hallo ("hi") Wonders,
Today is our last full day in Munich. We started our day with a visit to the BMW training facility to learn more about their vocation apprenticeship programs and the Teachers in the Economy Program. BMW and other businesses have have created partnerships with schools to begin recruiting applicants for these apprenticeship program positions. Students can gain real world trade experience with this practical approach to learning starting at the age of 16. Participants will complete a 2-5 year paid internship and will be well prepared for their future careers after finishing the program. The second program is called Teachers in the Economy and allows teachers to have the opportunity to leave their classes for one year and work in a technical, mechanical, or financial institution to gain first hand knowledge of the skills that students will need to be competitive in a global economy. Unfortunately, BMW has a strict policy about photographs so I am not able to share any photos of that experience with the KCS family. After visiting BMW we ventured out and see a little bit of Munich on our own. Attached are pictures of our visit to the Marienplatz to see the ringing of the Glockenspiel.We also got the opportunity to shop in the local boutiques. It was a wonderful day, but I am so happy to be heading back to NC tomorrow.

Bis Morgen ("see you tomorrow"),
Rebecca Merriman




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