Polish educators visit Riverside Elementary

Polish educators visit Riverside Elementary

On Aug. 20, Riverside Elementary welcomed two visitors from Poland’s St. Kostka Primary School-- Principal Marta Zubek, and Maja Matoga, an English teacher. Ms. Zubek and Ms. Matoga visited Riverside to learn more about the school and how the school system's curriculum is designed to meet the needs of students. St. Kostka Primary School serves students ages 7-12.

Their visit was arranged through a program sponsored by North Georgia College and State University (NGCSU) in Dahlonega. The program provides cooperative learning exchange opportunities for graduate students working on master's degrees in Early Childhood Education. The graduate students visited Polish schools to teach English and receive course credit. In turn, the Polish educators who hosted the students were invited to come and visit American schools and homes.

“The visitors were particularly impressed with the various teaching strategies used at Riverside,” says Dr. Craig Barlow, principal of Riverside Elementary. “Polish students are taught in a very formal atmosphere with very structured classrooms. Schools in Poland do not serve lunches, so our cafeteria program was also of particular interest.”

Riverside 5th graders share their visual arts projects on patterns and symmetry with Ms. Zubek, left, and Ms. Matoga, right.

Polish educators like Ms. Zubek are not selected in the same manner as principals in Gwinnett County. She was elected to the principal’s position at St. Kostka by the parents and the local council to serve a five-year term. Principals in Poland select an educational platform and “run for office” based on their ideas to improve student instruction.

"We are amazed that children from all over the world are succeeding in such a creative, dynamic environment," says Ms. Zubek. "We do not have a great deal of diversity in our schools in Poland and we feel that your school has been very successful in meeting the needs of your students."

Ms. Matoga was equally excited about the materials available to American students. "The options of using varied instructional materials to meet the needs of students is a great asset to learning. We hope to take these ideas back to our schools."