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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Youth exchange visits planned for Rolla, Sondershausen students

  • Rolla families will host 10 students from Sondershausen, Germany, in the fall of 2014, and 10 Rolla students will visit Rolla’s sister city the following June.
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  • Rolla families will host 10 students from Sondershausen, Germany, in the fall of 2014, and 10 Rolla students will visit Rolla’s sister city the following June.
    “This is a wonderful opportunity,” Tamatha Lueck, Rolla High School German teacher, told the school board at its Sept. 5 meeting.
    All board members were present for the meeting: Jim Packard, president; Jamie Myers, president-elect; Tony Froehlich, treasurer; Jeanne Cavender, Jane Haskell, Keith Strassner and Greg Stratman.
    Lueck quickly updated the board on the Rolla-Sondershausen Sister City Committee, chaired by Martina Hahn Baur. A delegation from Rolla went to Sondershausen this past summer for a festival.
    While there in June for Thurintag, Lueck worked with Sondershausen English teacher Daniela Kuhn-Lumm, on plans for the youth exchange program, work that began more than a year earlier.
    It was in May 2012 that Lueck and Baur met and started talking about an exchange program between the sister cities.
    “How can we get the youth involved?” was the question they sought answers for.
    Lueck began a correspondence with Kuhn-Lumm at that time.
    By September 2012, she was ready to talk to Dr. Jim Pritchett, RHS principal, about the possible exchange. Pritchett sought permission from Superintendent of Schools Dr. Aaron Zalis to continue with the planning.
    In October, the German American Partnership Program (GAPP), a U.S. State Department-sponsored program, was approached, and by the end of the following month, an application to join the program was submitted.
    In December 2012, GAPP approved the Rolla-Sondershausen youth exchange program.
    Throughout the semester, January-May of this year, Lueck and the English teacher in Germany continued corresponding.
    Lueck said the GAPP, also sponsored by the German Foreign Office, seeks to integrate students into everyday life of host families and classroom activities of host schools. These are short-term exchanges, not year-long student exchange programs.
    Some 740 schools in the U.S. have a GAPP program.
    “GAPP is well established and very respectable,” Lueck said.
    The program gives students a much different experience than they would receive from a group tour of the country.
    “Our students will actually be living with German families and attending German schools," Lueck said.
    Sondershausen is approximately in the center of Germany, a country the size of Montana. Sondershausen is comparable in many ways to Rolla, and its slogan is “The Center of the World.”
    Lueck said GAPP requires schools to exchange every year or every other year.
    “We’ll be doing it every other year,” she said. Plans are to start with 10 students.
    An exchange must be at least 16 days, including arrival and departure. They must spend two full weeks with the host families and attend 10 days of school.
    Page 2 of 2 - GAPP offers some travel subsidies. The program would also raise funds to assist the families chosen for the exchange.
    “All it’s going to cost them is air fare, train fare and spending money,” Lueck said. “It’s a very, very affordable way to travel internationally.”
    Lueck said the German students will be here Sept. 26-Oct. 15, 2014, and Rolla students will be in Sondershausen in June 2015. German schools have a longer school year than American schools and the term goes into July.
    She showed several slides of scenes from Sondersahausen, which she described as “very picturesque” and a typical German city.
    Lueck also showed slides and presented information about early childhood education in Sondershausen. That is  a timely topic, as the Rolla Board of Education is considering options for early childhood education in the district.
    In Sondershausen a “kindertagesstatte,” or “kita,” is a child care center.
    Some kitas serve children as young as three months but most children start at the age of 1. They attend a kita until formal schooling begins at age 6 or 7.
    Sondershausen has 13 kitas. Kita Pusteblume is the largest and most prestigious with 160 children divided into nine groups, she said. Twenty-four teachers and aides work with the children “to develop social competence and self-discipline through play.”
    Fees are $74 for one child in a family for half a day and $106 for full day. The cost for a second child from the family is $52 for half a day and $74 for a full day. Costs for a third child are $44 for half a day and $63 for a full day.
    Taxes pay the rest of the operating costs, she said.
    She showed many slides from Kita Pusteblume.
    In other business or discussion at the board meeting:
    • Amanda Almany, fifth-grade math and science teacher at Rolla Middle School, received a board award for being selected as the Missouri State Teachers Association’s South Central Teacher of the Year.
    • Julie Pfeifer, fifth-grade computers class teacher at Rolla Middle School, received a board award for being named Rolla Chamber of Commerce outstanding Educator of the year.
    • The board watched the Missouri School Boards Association’s monthly board report. It is available for public viewing at msbanet.org.
    • The consent agenda unanimously approved by the board included the minutes, financial statement, bills for payment, support staff changes, substitute teacher list, transfer of funds, surplus property, obsolete property and transportation contracts with Dent-Phelps R-III School District and Phelps R-III School District for 2013-2014.
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