Prince George's, Nigerian schools form partnership
Carroll Middle School teachers to share ideas with African counterparts
Eric Wood wants Charles Carroll Middle School to be a world-class school, even if that literally means bringing another part of the world to New Carrollton.
When Wood, Charles Carroll's principal, had the chance to visit the founder of a Nigerian-based American international school this spring, both were laying the groundwork for a cross-continental relationship.
Both Charles Carroll and the Surefoot American International School in Cross River State, Nigeria, formed a sister school partnership May 25 followed by a reception at Charles Carroll. Obioma Liyel Imoke, wife of Cross River State Gov. Liyel Imoke, founded SAIS in 2008.
Wood said once the staff numbers are finalized for the next school year he hopes to link Charles Carroll teachers with SAIS teachers to begin a dialogue that includes lesson planning and sharing the best instructional practices. Wood also hopes to start a pen pal program next year between students from both schools and to do video teleconferencing with individual classes.
Prior to the reception filled with student choral and dance performances, Prince George's County Schools Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. and Obioma Liyel Imoke signed a memorandum of understanding at the Sasscer Administration Building in Upper Marlboro, which made a sister school relationship between both schools official.
Imoke flew Wood out to Nigeria in April, where he toured SAIS and was made a "Goodwill Ambassador for Education" to Cross River State. Both were introduced a year ago via Cheryl Hill of the Towson-based Integrity International Consulting Group, and have corresponded through email and web conferences ever since.
Imoke said her education in Nigeria was characterized by memorization and spitting out information. When her daughter started school she enrolled her in an American international school in Nigeria and was impressed with the independence and critical thinking skills she gained.
"I wasn't given the opportunity to practice critical thinking because I was told this is how it had to be," Imoke said.
Wood talked to SAIS students who said they aspired to be accountants and engineers. Not one student mentioned being a professional athlete, which Wood said showed a difference between what children are exposed to there compared to the United States.
"With our children, it's almost like you have to convince them about how important school is," Wood said. "The students over there understand how important school is and how precious school is."
Eighth-graders Alana James and Fitsume Mulugeta, both 14, of New Carrollton made a "cosmic quilt" made from poster board for Imoke. It featured the SAIS school colors blue, red and yellow the Charles Carroll colors of green and white and pictures of past scholars of the week and Wood. Both said the partnership could result in extracurricular opportunities for Charles Carroll students to communicate with SAIS students.
"I think they could donate textbooks and necessities for them," Mulugeta said.