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Hertford teacher visits Moldova

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Sarah Brewer (middle), a teacher at Hertford Grammar School, poses with several school children at a school in Moldova during a recent trip to the eastern European nation.

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By Chris Day
Multimedia Editor

Monday, July 8, 2019

Teachers around the globe share a common bond, said Sarah Brewer.

“No matter where you are in the world, as a teacher you’re always hungry for knowledge that will benefit your students,” she said.

Brewer, who teaches fifth grade at Hertford Grammar School, spent seven days in June in the eastern European nation of Moldova. Bordered by Romania to the west and by Ukraine to the north, east and south, Moldova is a former republic of the Soviet Union.

Brewer’s trip was sponsored by UNC World View, a program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and was supported by the North Carolina-Moldova Bilateral Committee.

Brewer was joined by five other teachers, two school superintendents and one principal from North Carolina.

“From mostly eastern North Carolina to be more specific,” Brewer said.

The purpose of the trip was for the teachers to provide their Moldovan colleagues ideas on best practices for the classroom.

“We went over there to share things that we do in our classrooms,” Brewer said.

Best practices are those methods teachers have found most effective for delivering information to students, she explained.

One area the North Carolina teachers discussed was classroom management strategies, while another aspect was student discipline, she said.

Student discipline is an issue in Moldovan schools, according to Brewer. That’s because many of the children are what are known as “social orphans,” she said.

Social orphans are children whose parents are alive but are absent from the home. In many cases the parents are living in another country where they are working and raising money to send back to their families in Moldova, Brewer said. The children are left behind to live with their grandparents or other family members. Some children find it difficult being separated from their parents, which can lead to problems in the classroom, she explained.

“It has a huge impact on their discipline and behavior,” she said.

In one presentation Brewer addressed classroom engagement and ways to keep students interested and busy, she said.

The trip was June 16-23 and included visits to schools in the nation’s capital of Chisinau, and to schools in other towns.

“Each day we visited at least two different schools and universities,” she said.

At most of the schools she visited the teachers and students spoke English well enough that a translator wasn’t necessary. There were other situations when a delegate from the N.C. Secretary of State’s office would step in to translate, she said.

Brewer, who has been teaching for 10 years, said many of the schools in Moldova have textbooks provided by North Carolina.

“Which has helped some of their English programs,” she said.

The North Carolina-Moldova bilateral partnership was formed in 1999, according to its website. In addition to educational projects, other exchange programs include cultural, medical and economic opportunities. Because of the partnership the people of Moldova are quite familiar with North Carolina. It doesn’t take long to make friends there when they learn your home state, according to Brewer.

“Once they know you’re from North Carolina they give you the warmest welcome,” she said.