LUMBERTON — Lori Locklear had high expectations for China, but the country left a huge smile on this teacher’s face.
She already was known by that “big smile” anyway.
One week after school ended, Locklear, the Teacher of the Year for the Public Schools of Robeson County, joined 21 educators from North Carolina on the World View 2018 Global Study Visit Program to China. Locklear, who was selected as a part of that designation, teaches exceptional children in grades sixth through eighth at Fairgrove Middle School.
The teachers visited four major cities in China during their 11-day tour — Beijing, Xi’an, Guilin and Shanghai. The group toured public, private, vocational and migrant schools. They also had the opportunity to visit a university.
“It was eye-opening to realize that the educators and teachers in China were experiencing similar educational successes and problems that we have in the United States,” Locklear said. “They were welcoming and friendly to us. It was extraordinary to be able to communicate with educators across the world. We had an interpreter to communicate with each other. I had the opportunity to meet and talk in-depth with a first-year teacher at a high school in Beijing, China.”
Some of the most memorable highlights were trips to the Great Wall of China and the Terracotta Army site, Locklear said.
The program, which is sponsored by The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, enables participants to visit schools, colleges, non-governmental organizations and significant historic and cultural sites to gain an in-depth understanding of the country and region. The educators participate in workshops before and after the trip to ensure they are well prepared before they leave and supported afterwards to integrate what they’ve learned into their teaching.
“I want our community to know we have more in common with people in China than we do differences. We build upon those differences to make the education field a better profession. They wanted to know our teaching ideas and strategies about instructional practices that we utilize in the classroom on a daily basis,” Locklear said.
Educators from the Public Schools of Robeson County have participated in the World View Program for almost 20 years. In recent years, the educators have visited Germany, South Africa and Japan. The participants from the Public Schools of Robeson County normally give a slideshow about their experience at several events throughout the school year.
“I know my trip to China will definitely enhance my ability to bring cultural experiences into my classroom instruction. I also look forward to sharing these experiences with other educators across the district,” Locklear said.
Tasha Oxendine is a spokesperson for the Public Schools of Robeson County.