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 the understanding for 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 the understanding ffor one another and will be continued in the next year.
BurgGymnasium Kaiserslautern - Kaiserslautern High School
In the course of the further development of both schools, a school delegation from the BurgGymnasium Kaiserslautern visited the newly errecred buildung of the Kaiserslautern High School (KHS), which was followed by a return visit by a school executive delegation from the KHS at the BurgGymnasium. During the mutual consultations, the delegations were informed not only about the respective structural, but also about the pedagogical concepts. 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, not only individual further training is required, but also evaluation and feedback from the other side. Against this background and considering that colleagues from different school types and school systems can learn from each other, teachers are sitting in on classes. For instance, teachers from KHS have attended biology classes at the BurgGymnasium, after a colleague from the BurgGymnasium previously gained an insight into the science class at KHS. Further reciprocal visits, also in other subjects, are regularly 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 the respective class, with student partners being assigned in advance with the help of mutual introductory letters. 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 of action were held several times during the summer: barbecues at Birkenfeld Castle and at Birkenfeld / Brücken fish pond with games and sports facilities, Birkenfeld city rally (questions, explorations and location-based assignments in mixed groups with 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 high school students an opportunity to visit the children every month. Playing, learning and discovering together is a vital part of the agenda. Hardly surprising the Kindergarten children are thrilled when it's time for 'our American friends'.
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 get in touch with a different language. They are proud the BMHS students teach them English words with a lot of joy and patience. In return, they get first insights 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 have registered for the project who want to visit the children of the Kindergarten twice a month to discover the world with them and get to know each other. Furthermore, two American students are doing an internship in the Kindergarten for several months. The idea for the internship also 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 actities in 2018/19: Students of the 8th grade of the Reichswald-Gymnasium as well as students of the 7th/8th grade of the Ramstein Middle School created profiles in the respective foreign language, which were then exchanged. Great care was taken to find pairs that have common interests and may even live close together. 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. Parents of both German and American children, as well as the teachers accompanied the participating students.
Students from the Reichswald-Gymnasium visited their partners at the Ramstein Middle School and spent a school day with them. They took part in the class together with their partner. Before there was a short collective breakfast and at lunch break the parents of the American students served a delicious buffet with 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 and explain their partners everything throughout the day.
There have been return visits of the American students of the Ramstein Middle School at the Reichswald-Gymnasium 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 organize the lunch together at which usually typical German dishes are served in the form of a buffet. The German students show their partners the school building during the breaks and explain them everything.