By Hannah Newman
Rider sent 25 students on a short-term trip to England and Scotland in May, with the goal of implementing the knowledge and curiosity of foreign students into their classrooms in Lawrenceville and beyond.
On the education abroad program, students visited numerous landmarks like the Globe Theatre, the London Eye and Buckingham Palace.
Mark Pearcy, who was one of two professors on the trip alongside Susan Dougherty, found it remarkable how much the students appreciated visiting schools abroad and all that the experience had to offer them.
“When we have a chance to go to the other countries and have a chance to interact with the students, it’s really special for them,” said Pearcy.
Before the trip commenced, Pearcy shared with his class that he valued the foreign classroom visits and the students rolled their eyes; however, the statement rang true when students reflected on their experience.
Rider alum Chloe Verderber ’23, who went on the trip as an elementary education major, said, “Just understanding their different philosophies, how they run their classrooms differently and we were able to go in and see real kids learning real stuff.… The students were actually our tour guide so they’re about high school level.”
Students got to visit four schools at various levels, with each having something different planned for Rider students.
“One of the most interesting and occasionally aggravating things was that some schools had events planned for us. One of the schools we visited in Scotland had tea and snacks laid out for us and some classroom visits were planned,” said Pearcy. “We also went to high schools where we were able to go into classes, talk with the students directly, where they answered our questions and they could ask us questions. Some schools just gave us a tour.”
While participating in school visits, Pearcy was intrigued by the way Scottish schools taught their history.
“There are some similarities to the way their [England and Scotland] schools operate. But there’s some pretty distinct differences, especially in Scotland. They teach their own history and they don’t feature English history,” said Pearcy.
Although the trip was geared toward education majors, it appealed to a variety of different disciplines and the activities available to students allowed them to dip into the culture of the countries and take something unique away from their time abroad.
“We not only do all the fun touristy things like … Buckingham Palace, we went to the British Museum, the National Gallery, but we’re also able to be on our own and explore, which was really important for me, just to kind of get that global exposure,” said Verderber.
In addition to being a James Bush Scholarship recipient, which offered full tuition for the trip, Verderber also received an interview for her first job while abroad.
On their first day in England, Verderber received a call for an interview as a teacher but sent it to voicemail due to the unfamiliar number. When she found out who it was, they scheduled her for a Zoom interview abroad and called her for a demo lesson that was scheduled for the day after she arrived back in the United States.
The support she received from her peers was essential in her process of getting a job, which carried into her career and became a highlight of her experience abroad.
“I landed in Newark, [New Jersey] late on Thursday night and by 6:30 in the morning on Friday, I was in school doing a demo lesson and got the job on the spot,” said Verderber. “I really think that the trip boosted my confidence to kind of just go out there and do it. I couldn’t say no. My professors and my classmates really encouraged me throughout the trip and asked for updates once I got home.”