Wed., Oct.18@Eisenhower Elementary School

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On the morning of the third day, we visited Eisenhower Elementary School in Clearwater. The panda which was the mascot of the school was impressive.

Before starting ....

TV programs give us a lot of information. The weather forecast was saying the high temperature of the week would be 84-85F, and the lows 61-66, even in mid-October. In Iwate of that season, highs are like mid 60's.

I hear hurricanes often hit Florida. The weather forecast was talking about the hurricane named Michael. This hurricane was said to get smaller, but I guess some hurricanes should be a lot stronger than typhoons in Japan.

I also saw a program telling us about school lunch menus of the day. In Japan, they are usually printed out and copies are handed to children.

This is an inside view of Julian's Steak House, where I would often go to eat breakfast. When I went there it was still a little dark because I went there early in the morning, inside was darker than outside. So I needed to read newspapers under spot lights. All the furniture were so gorgeous, partly because the place is a mixture of a bar and a nice restaurant.

View from the bus ....

We left about 8:15 that morning. The view of Tampa Bay seen from Interstate Highway #275 was very beautiful that day, too. Although our bus ran into a busy traffic time, we weren't caught by a heavy traffic jam because the roads had many lanes and intersections were well-designed.

Outline of the School (from my notes)

This is an elementary school to which about 860 children ranging from kindergarten to 5th grade attend. The children are supposed to learn writing, reading, social studies, math, and health education. Instrumental music can be selected, too. In music classes, 1st graders take violin, 2nd and 3rd graders can choose their favorite musical instruments, and 4th and 5th graders play in a band.

There are 100 to 150 children whose mother tongue is not English. So they can take ESL classes in order to follow their ordinary classes.

I hear that the academic scores of children in Pinellas County are very high. That is so partly because there are stuffs who are in charge of making the academic scores higher. The teachers work very hard since it affects the amount of grant to be given to schools. The children are supposed to take three tests including writing, reading and math, given by the State of Florida every year. The analysis faculties analyze the result to see what kind of teaching is needed. By the way, childrens' writing ability is judged in three aspects; focus, organization and convension.

Every school serves lunch in the cafeteria. There is a special system to help children from poor family. The State of Florida helps them in supporting some or all the price of school lunch which usually costs $1.65.

There is a room called Front Office. The stuff checks the children who are late for school, absent from school, sick or who have some problems. For example, a child who are late for school must go to the office and receives a piece of paper. Then he/she must bring it to the classroom to enter. In Japan, classroom teachers do everything which Front Office does.

The school buses of this school are used by the children whose houses are more than 2 miles away from school.

We had a chance to see a student practicing teaching skills. There are three levels; a student selecting level 1 practices only in the morning for two days, level 2 full day for two days, and level 3 full day for 16 weeks, respectively. In Japan, a student practices teaching skills from about 2 weeks(private colleges) to 5 weeks(public colleges).

Parents' observation of their childrens' classes is planned once a year in September. But they can observe the classes any time of the year if they make a reservation.

We saw a display saying 'A Recognized School of Excellence,' authorized by the US Department of Education in the entrance. There was a huge welcome board in the corridor. The corridors are very wide and we felt good.

I found a poster showing 'Self Discipline.' I also noticed a paper showing flex-time schedule. Does that mean a flex-time system for teachers exists ? In Japan, it is difficult because the schools have less teachers and the teachers-students ratio is allowed up to 1-40.

This is a huge kitchen and a serving area in the cafeteria. Nice fragrance came to my nose. We saw a Halloween decoration there.

The Vice Principal, Ms.Garcia introduced two P.E. teachers to us. Having special teachers for classes like P.E. and so on is the same system in elementary cshools in Japan. In the library, a lady was working hard on a computer. I heard that she was one of the volunteers, and that there are a lot of people who retired in Florida. This seems to be a way schools in Japan should go.

The school building has some huge open spaces, each devided by boards to be classrooms. The children were very eager to study. I saw some graphs showing their scores in writing and reading in September. The content and the level of reading/writing seemed like as 9th grade level of English that Japanese students learn.

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