By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
A teaching trip
Photos supplied ABOVE: Debbie Schmidt shows pictures of life in Wisconsin to students at a Costa Rican elementary school. Ten teachers from the Monroe and Columbus school districts made a trip to Costa Rica as part of a teacher exchange program. In December and January, 14 teachers from Costa Rica came to Monroe. BELOW: Kelly Burns talks to seventh-grade students at the Liceo Experimental Bilingue de Pococi.
MONROE - Ten teachers from the Monroe school district and one teacher from Columbus traveled to Guapiles, Limon, Costa Rica from July 8 to July 24, 2010.

The teachers completed the second half of the Costa Rican Teacher Exchange that brought 14 Costa Rican teachers to Monroe for two weeks in December and January.

While in Costa Rica, the Monroe teachers lived with families, toured the country and visited schools in the Guapiles area.

The teacher exchange was an extension of the Costa Rican Student Exchange sponsored by the Monroe district since 1995. The program allowed Monroe teachers to experience another culture and share educational experiences with their Costa Rican colleagues.

The group visited Tortuguero, a protected wildlife area on the north Caribbean coast where they saw a green sea turtle dig a nest to lay her eggs; Irazu, the highest volcano in the country; Inbio Park, a place dedicated to educating the public about the importance of preserving the environment; and other sites of interest. They also visited schools in the area and met with Costa Rican teachers.

Knowledge of Spanish was not a requirement for the exchange, but several of the teachers could communicate in Spanish and were able to strengthen their language skills. Teachers who made the exchange trip included Lisa Hendrickson, Spanish teacher and exchange coordinator; Sherri Hendrickson, business education; Debbie Schmidt, guidance counselor; and Carol Ochsner and Kelly Burns, science teachers, from Monroe High School; and Monroe Middle School teachers Rae Wellnitz, business education, and Cynthia Hanley, special education. Andrea Skalmoski, who teaches special education at Parkside Elementary, Terri Montgomery, district reading specialist and Gifted and Talented coordinator, and Bill Gross, who teaches at the Monroe Virtual High School, also made the trip. Sharon Bradish, a Columbus Spanish teacher, and Kelly Burns' husband Timm, came along as well. Timm Burns has taught himself Spanish and uses the language in his role as the Green County Family Court Commissioner.

This was the second Monroe teacher exchange with Costa Rica. Hendrickson led a group of six teachers to Costa Rica in 1999. Kelly Burns and Bradish were a part of that exchange. The children of Kelly Burns, Montgomery, Sherri Hendrickson and Wellnitz have participated in past student exchanges. Kelly Burns has accompanied the student exchange as a chaperone four times in the past.