Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills Elementary District 181 has decided to become involved with the Langa Education Assistance Program that has allowed students, teachers and administrators at Hinsdale Central to have an exchange with counterparts in South Africa.
The connection between Central and schools in South Africa started with a student club at Central, Leap into Africa Club, about 13 years ago.
While Central has sent students, teachers and educators to South Africa, District 181 will not be participating in an exchange of students.
District 181’s first exchange in the program will come in July when Superintendent Hector Garcia and Kathleen Robinson, assistant superintendent of learning, spend about two weeks in South Africa to observe program schools there.
The plan to help set up a visit in September to District 181 by educators from the South African schools.
During that visit, the South African educators will split their time between observing classrooms at Hinsdale and Clarendon Hills middle schools and area professional development opportunities.
Those from District 181 who travel to South Africa must serve as a mentor to South African teachers visiting in September.
District 181 school teachers and administrators will be able to apply to make the annual trip to South Africa, which generally will include one administrator and about four teachers.
Applicants are required to make presentations to various District 181 groups, on request, for three years following the initial exchange to share what they learned and offer professional development to other District 181 staff.
“It’s very exciting to be a part of this program, which has wonderful opportunities for our district,” Robinson said. “The schools in South Africa involved in this have students with high social and emotional needs.”
Robinson said the program supports and is aligned with the district’s Social and Emotional Learning for Academic Success initiative.
District 181 is partnering with the Casten Family Foundation, which is covering costs to send local educators to South Africa and bring those from that country here. The District 181 Foundation will pay for visiting educators to participate in professional development here.
The schools in the program focus on emotional growth of their students as well as excellence in math, science and English. The goal is to provide educationally disadvantaged students with a mathematics and science-focused education.