Award "WiR! School" & "WiR! Kindergarten"
Many local schools located near U.S. military installations consider themselves independent actors to promote the German-American (intercultural) communication among young people by maintaining partnerships with Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) Schools. We honor the schools’ commitments to facilitate encounters between German and American students and to promote understanding of one another by awarding the certificate “WiR!-Schule“ (“WiR! School“), with WiR! (we in English) standing for our program “Willkommen in Rheinland-Pfalz!".
The title is bound to the duration of one school year and is tied to an active cooperation, a predefined number of joint activities, as well as the mutual fulfilment of certain criteria. Many schools and kindergartens already met the requirements and have received the title for the school year 2020/21.
We proudly present our "WiR! Schools" and "WiR! Kindergarten" with a brief description of their exchange projects!
BurgGymnasium Kaiserslautern - Sembach Middle School
The exchange program between the Sembach Middle School and the BurgGymnasium Kaiserslautern was established in 2012 and has been successful ever since. In this context, students from the seventh grade of the BurgGymnasium visited the Sembach Middle School on the U.S. military base Heuberg near Sembach twice in the school year 2018/19. In turn, the middle school students visited the BurgGymnasium in the same year. As a result, the participants from both sides received intensive insights into the teaching process and the organization of the DoDEA and German school system.
In addition, students not only have the chance to improve their language skills in everyday conversations, but also had the chance to establish personal contacts with peers from the other side. Everyone involved agrees that the cooperation between the schools is a textbook example for promoting understanding of one another and will be continued in the next year.
BurgGymnasium Kaiserslautern - Kaiserslautern High School
In the course of both schools' development, a school delegation from the BurgGymnasium Kaiserslautern visited the newly erected building of the Kaiserslautern High School (KHS), which was followed by a return visit of a school executive delegation from the KHS to the BurgGymnasium. During these visits, the delegations were informed about the educational structural and the pedagogical concepts of their respective partner school. The school management also used the opportunity for personal exchange and discussed a variety of cooperation opportunities.
In order to further develop the pedagogical and professional competence of the teachers, evaluation and feedback from the other side proved a useful supplement to individual training. Given this context and considering that colleagues from different school types and school systems can learn from each other, teachers sat in on each other's classes. For instance, teachers from KHS attended biology classes at the BurgGymnasium after a colleague from the BurgGymnasium gained insight into the science class at KHS. Further reciprocal visits in other subjects are being coordinated for each school year.
Realschule plus Birkenfeld - Baumholder Middle/High School
The partnership between the Baumholder Middle & High School and the Realschule Plus Birkenfeld has existed since 2001. Mutual visits and projects are carried out several times (usually 4 times) in each school year. Each school attends the partner school for a day and observes a class. Student partners are assigned in advance with the help of an introductory letter exchange. The partners welcome their guest students on the day of the visit. They exchange presents, attend classes & eat lunch together and engage in conversations. Cooperative teaching projects take place with mixed student groups. Evaluation discussions conclude the visits. Photos are taken and addresses exchanged.
They visit each other several times a year to observe foreign-language lectures and presentations, followed by feedback and joint assessment by "native speakers". Intercultural days were held several times during the summer: barbecues at Birkenfeld Castle and at Birkenfeld/Brücken fish pond including games and sports, Birkenfeld city rally (questions, explorations and location-based assignments in mixed groups with a subsequent award ceremony and social gathering). Events from other cultures were attended (sporting events, acrobatic musicals, school parties).
Kindergarten "Kleine Weltentdecker" Ruschberg - Baumholder Middle/High School
The project "New Friendship Generation" (NFG) between the Kindergarten "Kleine Weltentdecker" in Ruschberg and the Baumholder Middle & High School provides American high school students an opportunity to visit German children every month. Playing, learning and discovering together is a vital part of the agenda. It is hardly surprising that the kindergarten children are thrilled when it's time for 'our American friends' to visit.
The project started in 2017, initially with 4 students, who taught the children English words on a specific topic and conversely learned German words from them in return. For some high school students, this was the first contact ever with their German neighbors.
On the other side, it's the first time the kindergarten children encounter a different language. They are proud that the BMHS students teach them English words with a lot of joy and patience. In return, the high schoolers get insight into the educational system of their host country and grow into their role as teachers and role models for the kindergarten children. There is always a lot to learn, for all ages.
Since the beginning of 2020, 18 new DoDEA students who want to visit the kindergarten children twice a month to discover the world with them and get to know each other have registered for the project. Furthermore, two American students are doing an internship in the Kindergarten for several months. The idea for the internship was developed on the foundation of the NFG project.
Reichswald-Gymnasium Ramstein-Miesenbach - Ramstein Middle School
The exchange program between the Reichswald-Gymnasium Ramstein-Miesenbach and the Ramstein Middle School first took place in 2008. Here's a short introduction to the activities in 2018/19: 8th grade students from the Reichswald-Gymnasium and 7th/8th grade students from the Ramstein Middle School created profiles in their respective foreign language which were exchanged with their counterparts. Great care was taken to find pairs that have common interests and may even live nearby. After the students received their partner's profile, they got in touch by email.
Besides that, there were also icebreaker events like a bowling afternoon at the bowling alley on Ramstein Air Base. The participating students were accompanied by their parents as well as the teachers.
Students from the Reichswald-Gymnasium visited their partners at the Ramstein Middle School and spent a school day with them. They took part in class with their partner. Beforehand, there was a short group breakfast and at lunch break, the parents of the American students served a delicious buffet of typical American dishes. The German teachers sat in on classes and observed the various subjects. They were therefore able to get their own impression of the American way of teaching as well as of their students and their partners in class. The American students were asked to show their partners around and explain everything about their school day.
There have been return visits of the American students of Ramstein Middle School to the Reichswald-Gymnasium starting with a joint breakfast. American students then attended classes with their German partners and took an active part in them. The DoDEA teachers and the accompanying American parents also observed the lessons in which the American students took part. German students and their parents then organized a lunch of typical German dishes to share. The German students showed their partners the school building during the breaks and explained everything to them.