Park Street gets international attention

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 Messenger photo by Dedra Cordle
 Stephen Chu from the Hong Kong Delegation stands next to a welcoming Darth Vader at Park Street Intermediate School on Oct. 4. Chu was one of the international visitors observing the American educational environment.

Educators from across the globe flew into central Ohio last week to learn about our schools, a semi-new concept on improving the educational environment, and the possibility of opening an exchange program with the students in our area.

Seven delegates from Hong Kong and Thailand came to Park Street Intermediate School in Grove City on Oct. 4 during their two-week stay in the United States to learn from the school that in 2006 was given the title of "The Inviting School Award." The award was given to Park Street by the International Alliance for Invitational Education (IAIE.)

"Invitational education recognizes that everyone has a contribution to make at the school," said Ed Gwazdauskas, principal at Park Street.

For an example, Gwazdauskas showed the educators a video about a former sixth grader student. She made the tape for incoming students, telling them about what to expect during their first year, and all of the good programs to join to make their school experience more enjoyable.

"It goes along with the five Ps of invitational education," he said. "Those five ps are people, places, programs, processes and policies."

The educators from Hong Kong were familiar with the concept on invitational education, whereas the teachers from Thailand were just learning about it and getting to know their theories.

"We have no invitational education schools yet," said Assistant Professor, Dr. Nui Limtasiri. "We wanted to do little projects with those model schools at the primary and secondary levels."

Limtasiri also asked about the dropout rates for the students at the intermediate/middle school level. She said there are quite a few students who leave school at that age in Thailand.

"We really don’t see any of that at this age," said Roby Schottke, South-Western City

School’s director of instructional support. "You’ll see some in the high schools, but our graduation rate is right around 90 percent."

Sue Bowen, executive director to the alliance, said that is one of the practices of invitational education.

"You have to allow the students the opportunity to fail and to learn from those mistakes. Obviously you want to be optimistic that things will work out, but that’s not always what

happens."

It has been said that in order to be successful in school you have to have help from everyone involved.

"We work together in partnership with the community for the success of young people," said Grove City Mayor Cheryl Grossman who visited the school. "You have to have that relationship in order to be successful."

In order to be successful with invitational education at a school, you have to learn more about it. During their second week in the country, the visitors went down to Georgetown, Ky. for IAIE’s annual conference.

"There will be five key-note speakers at the conference, including Peter Yarrow from the group Peter, Paul and Mary," said Bowen. "He will be talking about his ‘Don’t Laugh at Me’ program."

The "Don’t Laugh at Me" program is to provide teachers and administrators ways to harness safe and caring environments in their schools, while ideally eradicating bullying.

"We want to make our school the best place to learn as possible," said Gwazdauskas.

Harmon Elementary and Park Street Intermediate are the only schools in the district who apply invitation education to their school conduct.

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