Contributing culture to class curriculum |

Contributing culture to class curriculum

summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado
Summit Daily/Mark Fox

BRECKENRIDGE ” Next week, Mandy Lover will be sitting alongside Japanese students experiencing school the way they do.

Lover, who recently completed her first year as a first-grade teacher at Breckenridge Elementary School, was one of the 11 teachers selected throughout the state for an 18-day study tour of Japan.

Through the Program for Teaching East Asia at the University of Colorado in Boulder, she and the other educators, mainly first-grade teachers, arrived in Tokyo Thursday where they stayed at a Buddhist temple.

After Tokyo, the teachers will travel on the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto, Hiroshima, Yamagata and Yokohama. And during part of the trip, they will stay with local families and go to school with students.

Throughout it all, the group will develop curriculum around five children’s books they are studying that explore culture, customs and events.

For example, one talks about a dog who would visit a train station each day with his owner. After the owner died, the dog continued the routine and became a sort of mascot for the station.

“We’ll be going to the train station where the story takes place,” Lover explained.

Also, she will be on the lookout for other lessons she can bring back to her students.

First-graders learn about comparing and contrasting, so she will be able to use what she sees as examples. And because Breckenridge Elementary is working toward becoming an International Baccalaureate school, she will be looking for examples that express the IB attitudes, such as caring, and how they are portrayed in another culture.

Lover learned about the opportunity to study in Japan after receiving an e-mail sent from administration in the district. While she enjoys traveling and has been to Peru and New Zealand before, she had previously never considered visiting Japan.

Then, the more she learned, the more interested she became. She saw it as an opportunity to learn that could help her students, particularly because the country is part of the first-grade curriculum.

When she returns, she will share the experience with other teachers, as well as last school year’s students because they studied Japan and learned about the trip before she left.

Lover, who always wanted to be a teacher, moved to the area from Kansas about 10 years ago and for the past nine she worked for Vail Resorts. During recent years, she worked to get her masters degree in elementary education through the University of Phoenix Online and two school years ago she finished her student teaching in kindergarten at Silverthorne Elementary School.

Teaching turned out to be everything she’d expected.

It’s rewarding and “everyday I learned something new,” she said. “They teach me as much as I teach them, which is equally important.”

Now that kids are out of school, teachers have some much deserved time off. For some, the summer break may mean trips with the family or finally having time to get the house in order. For three area teachers, it means learning new ways to benefit students.

Mandy Lover, a first grade teacher at Breckenridge Elementary, will soon be on her way to do a study tour of Japan. Bethany Lambrecht, Summit High School French teacher, will be studying art at the Louvre Museum in Paris. And Amy McMullen, the district’s literacy coordinator, will be sharing Summit’s model for literacy and learning about others while in England.

This is the first in a series about what these teachers are doing this summer. Look for the next two stories in editions this week.

Lory Pounder can be reached at (970) 668-4628, or at

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