Pumped for a program

Ochocki participates in administrator exchange this year

Chuck Ochocki

In about a month, Stillwater Junior High School Principal Chuck Ochocki will host an international guest in his home as he begins his Argentina Administrator Exchange Program for 2012-2013.

The program, funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, has chosen 16 principals to participate in the exchange program this year. The program lets school administrators see how education systems in other countries work and implement ideas from each other’s schools when they return.

During the course of the program, the administrators stay in their chosen country for three weeks. The foreign teachers come to the states in October and the U.S. teachers go to the foreign teachers’ countries in June.

Ochocki first heard about the program when geography teacher Sara Damon participated in it and he lent her his support.

“Through that process I became really interested in learning about how things work outside of the U.S. system,” Ochocki said. “One of the district goals is to create global awareness for teachers and students and this could help with that.”

Ochocki hopes to get two things out of this experience: set up a communication system with students and teachers so they can converse with their counterparts in Argentina and see what the Argentinean school system does well and apply it here.

“I’m most interested in learning how schools in Argentina work with students who struggle,” Ochocki said.

When his guest, Alejandra, arrives he also plans to show her around a variety of schools so she can implement new ideas when she gets back to Argentina. Alejandra told Ochocki that she wanted to see schools involving grades K-12 and above.

“She’ll follow me around for a couple of days at the junior high to see what a day in the life of a U.S. principal is like, and she’ll look at other schools in the district too,” Ochocki said. “I’ve set up some visits to White Bear Lake 916’s collaborative school, Adams Spanish immersion school in St. Paul and we’ll also visit some colleges as well.”

Alejandra will arrive on Oct. 15 and Ochocki and his family are excited about the opportunity.

“I’ve got two boys from Colombia and my wife speaks Spanish so we’re really excited about it,” Ochocki said.

Though he is a little nervous about his trip to Argentina, since he said his Spanish could use some work, he’s looking forward to the experience.

“I’ve told all the Spanish teachers to talk to me in nothing but Spanish this year,” Ochoki said. “I’m really pumped about it. It should be a really good experience and I’ll also see all the varieties of educational systems when I’m in Argentina as well.”