Black Hills State University prepares its education majors for diversity and multiculturalism in the classroom through its partnership with Global Gateway for Teachers, an organization that partners United States universities with schools worldwide in a student teaching exchange program.

This semester, BHSU seniors Haley Juhnke, an elementary education major from Vivian, and Katie Lensegrav, an elementary education major from Interior, set off for the southern hemisphere. They spent six weeks completing their student teaching requirements in New Zealand elementary schools. Juhnke and Lensegrav learned local teaching practices and engaging in Māori culture, all before returning to the Black Hills for December graduation.

“They are doing it the New Zealand way — living with host families, getting a taste of the cuisine and culture,” says Dr. Richard Carriveau, associate professor of education and campus coordinator for student teaching at BHSU. “It’s a cultural experience, as well as excellent student teaching enrichment.”

Through GGT, students complete 10 weeks of student teaching in regional schools, fulfilling requirements for both the South Dakota Board of Regents and BHSU. Then, they taxi down the runway toward their international location, where they complete another six to eight weeks of student teaching.

This approach fully immerses student teachers in another culture, allowing them to return with the ability to work with students from diverse cultures and backgrounds in their future classrooms.

“Their teaching style is definitely more of a student-led approach,” Juhnke reflects on her experience in a New Zealand seventh-grade classroom. “Very little time is spent lecturing the students, and the kids are always on the go, finding engaging ways to learn.”

The GGT program encourages education majors to grow by stepping into unfamiliar and challenging experiences.

“I knew I needed to be pushed out of my comfort zone in order to be a better teacher for my future students,” Lensegrav says. “I am so much more confident in myself as a teacher and person.”

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Sharing some of the international highlights from her experience, Lensegrav says, “Getting to walk to the beach on my lunch break is a major highlight for a South Dakota girl who never goes to the ocean! I also loved going to Māori Festivals with the students.”

Carriveau says GGT provides a well-established program based on strong relationships with international schools and dependable resources for students who may be traveling abroad for their first time. GGT has partnerships with schools in culturally diverse locations including Chicago, the American Southwest, and 18 countries around the world.

Carriveau himself participated in Global Gateway for Teachers during his undergraduate program, teaching in England in 1981. He says the advantage of this program is that student teachers experience a different culture of teaching within other nation’s school system, which is different than teaching abroad at a U.S. military school.

“With this partnership,” Carriveau says, “our students experience foreign schools on foreign soil.”

The BHSU School of Education is the largest teacher education program in South Dakota. The program's placement rate for graduates into education fields is more than 90 percent. BHSU offers prospective teachers 19 undergraduate and three graduate degrees with field-based experiences.

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