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MMS teacher to spend summer in Japan

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POSTED: June 18, 2008 5:00 a.m.
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Joy Kennedy

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A Midway Middle School teacher will travel halfway around the world to see what it is like on the other side of the desk as part of a study tour with the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund Teacher Program.
Joy Kennedy, a seventh-grade math teacher, will spend part of her summer vacation in Japan, visiting different classrooms from elementary through college levels.
Her three-week stay in the Japan begins June 8 and includes a week in Tokyo, where the JFMF is based, a stay in Tanabe City and a return trip to Tokyo. Kennedy and 160 other educators will be talking with school administrators, teachers and students.
"We're going to get to observe and interact, but not actually teach," Kennedy explained.
However, the teacher will be taking notes about how the country maintains and provides its youth with one of the top ranking educations in the world.
"They have a great education system," Kennedy said. "I'm looking forward to observing their classes and, hopefully, being able to bring some stuff back to use in my class."
Kennedy thinks Americans "definitely" have the potential to rise to the educational level of Japanese students.
"I'm looking forward to see how they do it and how they instill it," she said.
Kennedy also is looking forward to networking with other program participants, two of whom also are from Georgia.
The teachers will split up in ten groups for more focused cultural interaction, such as a three-day home visit with a Japanese family.
Aside from her love of traveling, Kennedy said the trip also is a "great opportunity," because she also has a master's degree in outdoor education administration and ran a school field trip program for five years.
She plans to share her experiences with MMS and the community when she returns. Kennedy wants to apply any new education practices to her math classes and possibly cooperate with other subjects on her academic team to utilize new learning techniques.
"I hope to be able to work with the social studies teacher and the literature teacher," she said.
In order to participate in the program, the Liberty County local set herself apart from more than 1,700 other educators across the nation to be chosen by JFMF, which selects at least four teachers from each state.
Kennedy found out she was chosen after MMS Math Family Fun Night.
"So I was already so excited because we had a wonderful turnout," she explained.
She came home to find a letter with a Japan return address, but thought it was a rejection letter.
"It was just a letter and I was expecting a big packet," she explained.
However, big things came in a small package for Kennedy.
She immediately called MMS principal Debra Frazier, who wrote a recommendation letter for the program, and "she couldn't believe it."
Kennedy's one-word Japanese vocabulary, konnichiha (Japanese for hello), has not stifled her hopes of learning more about the culture and teaching methods.  
"It'll be great," she said. "It's a wonderful experience."
The Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund Teacher Program began in 1997 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Fulbright Scholarship program.
The international program was an effort to cultivate relations and culture awareness between the United States and Japan after World War II.
Japan's government fully funds the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund.


 

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