Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School (RFH) Spanish students have a sister … school.
The sister is Isabel de Castilla Public High School in Avila, Spain.
Students in several RFH Spanish classes have begun fostering friendships with the students in Spain through Edmodo, an online educational and social network.
In February of 2017, 17 students and two teacher chaperones will travel from Isabel de Castilla Public High School to visit RFH. Spending the week in homestays, the group will attend classes at RFH as well as participate in special events.
The events include: attending the World Language Department’s Languapalooza talent show; sharing a meal prepared by the RFH Cooking Club; and joining the Spanish National Honor Society for a welcome fiesta.
The trip is designed to provide cultural insight into life as a teenager in Rumson and Fair Haven. The group from Spain will travel to New York City and Philadelphia as well.
A reciprocal journey for RFH students is planned for the 2017-18 school year. RFH students and teacher chaperones will stay with local families and attend classes at Isabel de Castilla in Avila, a small medieval walled city about an hour west of Madrid.
“We are really looking forward to having firsthand insight into the practices, products, and perspectives of the Spanish youth and their culture,” said RFH Spanish teacher Christina Gauss. “We hope to collaborate with the Spanish students throughout the school year.”
As part of their classwork, students in the RFH Advanced Placement Spanish Language and Culture course recently created and sent videos to students at Isabel de Castilla. The videos showcase life at RFH and in the surrounding communities.
In addition, the RFH students developed an online survey to gather information on how social media platforms are used to promote social movements. The online survey has been sent to the students in Spain as well as students and community members in the RFH community. The RFH students plan to compare and contrast the results from RFH and Avila, Spain.
The student groups from RFH and Spain have also begun an ongoing conversation on the A Day in the Life topic. Students in Gauss’ Spanish 4 Honors class created an electronic visual collage that best describes their personalities and lifestyles, and they have shared these collages with the students in Spain. Students in Daniella Goodarz’s and Seth Herman’s Spanish III Honors classes will soon begin interacting with the students from Avila using Edmodo as well.
“This is an excellent opportunity for our students to forge a meaningful and authentic cultural and linguistic exchange,” said Herman, supervisor of World Language at RFH.
The sister school relationship became official this past July when Gauss met with Aida Marquez, English teacher and Bilingual Program Director at Isabel de Castilla, to finalize the details.
The meeting occurred after Gauss had traveled to Spain for a week-long professional development course at the University of Alcala’s Summer Spanish Language and Culture Institute for U.S. Teachers of Spanish.
During the course, 85 teachers from all regions of the U.S. compared and contrasted their educational systems, shared best practices for second language acquisition, explored ideas to increase student engagement, and collaborated on projects to promote students’ global competence skills.
— Edited press release from Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School