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NOVA International School: Opening New Doors

THE PROJECT
Elementary education student, Laura Hannum has never been afraid to try new things. In 2008, she traveled to Okinawa, Japan, through the Camp Adventure Program, where she spent six weeks teaching swim lessons to children 11 months to 12 years old. The experience gave her a taste for adventure and changed her outlook on life. So when the opportunity again arose for her to travel and try something different, she welcomed it with open arms. Hannum was offered a student teaching opportunity in the Republic of Macedonia (a southeast European country, north of Greece and west of Bulgaria), Nova International School. Hannum will be in Macedonia from January 9 to May 20, 2009. After graduation, Hannum believes she’ll continue to look into teaching opportunities abroad.


The NOVA International School campus is located in a quiet residential area about two miles from the city center of Skopje. Nova’s K-8 elementary and middle school is an independent co-educational English language day school representing more than 40 nations. Daily cross-cultural interactions between students are a key component of the school’s international educational process. The school is state of the art: Students have access to the wireless campus and computer labs, science labs, art and drama studios, an auditorium, library, bookstore, full service cafeteria, outdoor green areas and a sports court. In September 2009, the elementary and middle school will relocate to a new high-tech green facility adjacent to the present campus. To date, it will be the only energy-efficient building of its kind in the Republic of Macedonia.


THE IMPACT

Laura will be the first University of Idaho student to intern at Nova.


“Nova School would like its teachers both to mentor and to learn from our student teachers,” said College of Education Dean Paul Rowland. “We hope this relationship will grow into something more.”


Rowland and Victor Novakovski, head of Nova School, are also discussing what the University of Idaho can do to provide online professional development for teachers in Macedonia and to also facilitate a faculty exchange program. Providing student interns to the school is a first step in a potentially broader relationship. Sally Greene, internship coordinator for the College of Education, began soliciting applications for the new internship in October.


“I e-mailed all students who were doing their first semester of elementary internship in the fall and had them write a letter of interest,” she said. “Several students responded initially with interest, but Laura was the only one who stuck with it. I have at least two, and possibly more students interested for next fall.”


Laura thought her chances of being selected were pretty low.


“I wasn’t expecting anything to come of it because I thought there would be several students applying.”

Since her acceptance, she’s been trying to find out as much as possible about the country. She met with a University of Idaho student from Macedonia, who offered her some helpful information.


“I asked him a lot of questions about safety issues. My parents are not real comfortable with me going there, although they are supportive. But he said it was safe for Americans.”


THE VISION
Aside from the experiences she’ll gain while teaching at Nova International School, Hannum is also excited about the opportunity to meet and converse with such a diverse population.


“It is just such a phenomenal experience to get out of America and see how other people interact.”


THE PEOPLE

Laura Hannum, College of Education student