DeKALB – Each summer, The Korea Society selects a few dozen American educators to participate in a 12-day fellowship to South Korea – the trip of a lifetime.
This year, the nonprofit, which promotes awareness and understanding between the U.S. and Korea, received about 300 applications from all over the country. One was from local sixth-grade teacher Tammy Judkins.
“You write an essay; you have to submit lesson plans and get letters of recommendation,” said Judkins, a teacher at Clinton Rosette Middle School. “They really want to know your teaching background.”
Judkins was chosen along with 38 other educators. She returned July 7 from the rigorous journey of teaching, touring and networking, and she’s ready to apply what she learned in her sixth-grade social studies classroom.
“The trip was fabulous,” she said. “It was life-changing and spiritual, and it will come back to my classroom.”
During the first portion of the trip the teachers heard lectures on a range of Korean cultural and societal topics at Korea University in Seoul.
Then they were asked to prepare a lesson plan involving their home state for a classroom of seniors at Koyang Foreign Language High School. She worked on hers with a teacher from Rhode Island.
“I brought some books about Lincoln Highway and a video about the Mississippi River,” Judkins said.
Education is taken very seriously where she visited – so much so that air traffic is halted on test days – she could see the parallels between students here and there, Judkins said.
“The students are still very much kids,” she said. “They giggle, and they ask about popular culture. Their worries are very similar to our teenagers here; it’s just that education is very important to them.”
The teachers also toured the country to learn about important sites and landmarks and were asked to file a lesson plan since returning that they can implement in their own classrooms.
Since Judkins teaches her students about ancient cultures, she decided to base her lesson plan on traditional Korean weddings. Her students will use Glogster, a web-based poster-making tool, to map out a project.
“The kids will get to compare and contrast contemporary society with a traditional Korean wedding and plan it out,” Judkins said.