“They wanted me to speak about how we approach literacy in the classroom, school, and community,” said Varghese. “The audience was comprised of parents who were interested in what K-2 educators do to engage young readers in the classroom and how that work can continue at home.” View the IG Live here.
Richmond Street School Principal, Dr. Alice Lee, has built a relationship over the last several years with educators and educational organizations such as Scholastic in Korea. Lee, who is Korean American, conceived the idea of a cultural and educational exchange during her travels to Seoul, Korea with her family in 2018. While there, she had the opportunity to visit Cheongwon Elementary School, which has become a sister school to Richmond Street School. In early 2019, a group of 28 Korean elementary and middle school students had a rare opportunity to visit the El Segundo Unified School District (ESUSD) for a weeklong exchange tour. In December 2019, Lee was invited to travel in Korea with Scholastic Korea administrators and conduct an educational workshop for parents. This year, Lee has also volunteered her time by participating in educational workshops hosted by Scholastic Korea on Instagram Live. View Dr. Lee’s IG Live here.
“I have served on Scholastic’s Principals Advisory Board for four years and being part of Scholastic is a great connector,” said Lee. “Korean educators are interested in seeing how we teach literacy in America. English as a second language in Korea is a desired language that parents want their children exposed to and eventually, to achieve fluency. Korean parents are highly invested in their children’s academic achievement.”
Their interest is evident in how well the IG Live sessions have been received. Michelle Varghese’s workshop with Scholastic Korea had 300 real-time participants and more than 2,200 views to date.
“I hear from many parents that they feel limited in their knowledge of how to engage their children in reading. Beyond simply handing them a book, what should they do?" said Varghese. “During my online workshop, I modeled four different types of books and demonstrated how I would read them as a teacher in each grade and provided tips for things parents could try at home. I wanted to impress upon the audience that we all need to inspire a love of reading. Reading can happen without a student even recognizing a word yet. Young students can read pictures, learn what books are, how you turn pages, memorize what is read to them, act out stories, and much more!”
Scholastic Korea representative Bora Sohn shared one of the many comments from parents, translated from Korean, following Varghese’s workshop. “One of the comments that stood out the most to me was that parents could really see what a passionate and caring teacher you are. One parent’s comment was ‘In everything you mentioned and the read-aloud activities, you showed that you are an amazing teacher who knows what kids need to become confident readers and learners.’”
ESUSD believes cultural and educational exchanges such as with the group of students hosted in 2019 from Cheongwon Elementary School directly contribute to the success of participating students from both schools as they navigate their future as global citizens. It also provides opportunities for teachers and administration to experience and gain greater understanding of pedagogical similarities and differences between the educational programs in other countries.
Dr. Lee says she is happy to represent ESUSD and participate in these benchmarking exchanges. “It is great to continue this partnership and contribute our best practices nationally and internationally,” said Lee.