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My Experiences – Jari’s year of growth:-)

“When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade!”

Housing

I have learnt some new skills so far, I had to get used to doing skills I was not used to. For example a seasonal maintaining of the yard like raking the leaves and seeds coming down from maple trees (Royal Oak itself is called a city of trees J), shoveling the snow, mowing the lawn and watering the garden. At home I was used to living in an apartment and the demands for living in a house are very different.

Schooling

The cooperation with my host school was great. They had friendly, open, actable attitude towards me and I was provided with a sufficient working space with an access to the internet as I was with the Library, Computer Laboratory and a brand new Multi-Media Laboratory.

My courses were announced in advance, although I changed my classes schedule since the second semester.

What I found the most inspirational or striking in comparison to my home?

I have been inspired by many things …

I guess I have changed a bit and I have grown. I got to know who I really was and found out that I was much stronger than I had believed. It was pretty challenging, but on the other hand also rewarding. At the beginning I had to go through rough times, which I overcame. I know now that asking for help is not a sign of weaknesses. At home I was used to getting success much more easily and here, it seemed to me as if I was teaching for the first year. I am definitely better organized now (I used to tend to be a “fragmental” person). I have become stronger, independent woman who learned a lot of new skills, incl. booking and rebooking air-tickets, hotel rooms, planning to trips anywhere and doing all that stuff by myself and I have learnt to arrange for service calls for repairs for problems with the house, a car, medical, court etc.

The most inspirational are the moments when I found students are students everywhere and that you have to treat them with care and dignity because students look at the world with an open horizon. I have established close meaningful relationships with many students at Lahser. Not only did I learn about the school year schedule, I learned how to communicate and interact with students about current issues and global issues. This has changed me and helped me understand differences,

Most striking experience/a major challenge was teaching English class here in the United States. I found myself unsure in Writing through Literature, because I had never taught that subject/class. Second semester, I taught ESL (English as a second language), this class was a lot more reasonable for one like myself to teach; I helped other kids new to the English language.

My lecturing assignment

In terms of my teaching experience – since September 2005 through June 2006, I have been lecturing for two different departments (English and World Languages) and have taught 4 different courses, including:

  1. Writing through literature I (English Dept.): 9 graders
    During the first semester I had 1st, 3rd, and 6th period (each 90 minutes block). Size of classes was 30 on average. This course addresses the needs of students at different levels of competency in the areas of compositions, literature, grammar, and vocabulary. Writing assignments, which stimulate critical thinking and self-expression and reinforce grammatical, mechanical, and vocabulary skills. Students gain speaking and listening kills, which are reinforced through formal and informal presentation.
  2. Reading for Enrichment (English Dept.): 10 - 12 graders
    During both semesters I taught 5th hour (60 minutes block). Each class had approximately 30 students. This course provides a quiet reading environment for students to peruse a self-selected reading program, Students read under teacher’s supervisor, while teacher monitors student journals and conferences.
  3. ESL- English as a Second Language (World Languages Dept.): 9 - 11 graders
    This course I had for the second semester – 2nd hour (90 minutes block). The size was five students (including one Czech student!) and two tutorial students, which enabled individual approaches towards students. This is a course design to develop the basic communicative skills of students have been identified as a Limited English Proficient. Students learned to use English as a tool to access and express knowledge and information. I developed the speaking, listening, reading and written skills in an integrated and holistic manner.
  4. PAGES - Program of Assistants for General Education Students: 9 - 11 graders
    2nd semester. I taught 1st hour (3 students) and 6th hour (6 students) and I had 2 tutorial students (doing Community service). Course provides assistance and support to students with academic problems who are not certified eligible for special education. I worked closely with students on a variety of learning and study strategies. This program was closest to my professional background, because I have earned doctorate in special education.
    I used my skills from when I taught my students at home in the U.S. I also picked up many new skills, ways of learning to bring back home. For me this was adding to my teaching experience and helped me be a better teacher, co-worker and most of all a better and more understanding person.

Recounting occasions on which I addressed or spoke to local audience, participated in cultural or professional meetings, or wrote for local publications

  1. Speaking to local audience
    During November and December 2005 I prepared approximately seven informal discussions for Social Studies Dept. (European and World studies classes). The title I gave it was “The Life behind the Curtain.” I feel as if I opened their minds to new part of a world. They asked me a lot of questions; eg. “What the life under communism was like?” “How is life here compared to your country?” “How did the European Union play a part to you?” “How different is North America to Europe?” “How would you describe Europe in three words?” “What was it like living in Czechoslovakia when the iron curtain was coming down?” “Were you ever scared that you were never going to be free? ””What was your idea of America before visiting?” AND many other questions… Kids got an opportunity to talk to a person who grew up and raised her children under these circumstances. I also informed them of the history of the US and the Czech Republic and I told them we had a bigger connection than we ever thought, and I gave them some history examples.
    On February 22, I had Presentation in the Lahser Auditorium. I spoke to students in each class period (from 7:30 to 2:30) about the Czech Republic, my school, my hometown Boskovice, my family, my school (and the Project I was working on). I was also informing the audience on Prague and Czech education system and I pointed out the similarities and differences between Czech and American school systems. I also mentioned how many American-Czech connections I could find (history, culture, sport...). It was a great experience..
  2. Participating in school activities and professional meetings
    In November 2005I I volunteered as a facilitator in LCLC (Lahser Communication Leadership Conference). This conference was a great success. Seventy-two sophomores and juniors and eight teachers converged on the Skyline Camp and Conference Center for three days of team building, communications training, and problem solving.
    I have been involved and volunteered to Lahser SOS club (It’s about respect. Respect for Self, Others, and School). SOS is students, teachers, and parents working together to promote positive change. It is focused on creating a school climate where people feel safe to be themselves.
    Fulbright 3-day Fall Meeting in Minneapolis in October, 2005
    Fulbright Spring Meeting in Boston on June 4th, 2006
  3. Cultural meetings
    Lahser High School is known for having very rich cultural life. Thus, whenever there was a performance or cultural event on, I tried to be there as for example:
    Lahser’s 2006 Musical South Pacific (by Rodgers and Hammerstein). Lahser High School performers were awesome!
    The Lahser Choir performance – Come to the Music (May 19, 2006)
    Robert C. J. Traub Memorial Scholarship ART and MUSIC – Awards program on April 11, 2006
  4. Articles
    An article for the Czech newspaper see: http://www.jazyky.com/content/view/71/50/
    An article/interview “New Czech Republic Exchange Teacher” in Page newspapers – see News (September 26, 2005, page 6).
    An article/interview “Exchange teacher braves her first year” in Birmingham Eccentric newspapers (Sunday, October 23, 2005).

My relationship with the host institution will continue after I return to the Czech Republic

Possible forms: exchanging emails, sending pictures, encouraging each other, US teachers visits in my town (at least two of them have already planned to come to visit next summer). I feel the US/Michigan/Detroit area will always stay a part of my life and personality. Working for Lahser (one of the most prestige high schools in Michigan) for one year was an honor and brought some things that will be missed…here, at Lahser I met such a big diverse group of religions, attitudes, opinions, colors of skins, languages, and altogether well being. It works! I have also met American people who gave me their hospitality and friendship as if brought on their palms…The Lahser staff, including administrators, would always try to help and to solve problems in a wise way, which would accommodate everyone. They always gave a hand when needed.

Encountering opportunities and challenges that changed me in a personal manner, outside of my academic or career sphere

I have definitely grown personally as I have mentioned before. I never knew how brave I could be and for sure would have never thought how courageous I am. Sometimes I needed a big amount of courage to help me through all the obstacles. It started with death of my mother, she passed away just three months before I left for the US, then moving homes, changing place of work, driving a car on 4-lane highway which I had never done before.. In addition there were language barriers, language fatigue, and diverse cultures. Altogether, I have been here on my own, without my husband Ivo, and my children (two grown sons) and three lovely grandchildren. Sometimes it was even difficult to function, this was a huge life-changing event. I have made it through the difficult times. These “growing” pains of cross-cultural adjustment eventually lead to my greater emotional and intellectual maturity. I have increased my confidence and I have more flexible personality as well and learning how to keep a smile through the good times and the bad. I have grown from this experience.

English Language improvement

As for my practical language skills I am sure I have improved my English exceptionally since last August. The symptoms of recognizing that are also in colleagues facial expressions, they are in students’ reactions/feedbacks and now after having been here for almost 11 months I do not even think about switching the language now. It comes more naturally. I expect mutual benefits – for me and for my school/students, I cannot wait the moment I will be standing in front of my students and talking about my experience in the US in English!!

Thanks to the Fulbright Exchange Program I have been given once in a lifetime experience. Experience, that was demanding, rewarding and valuable. Looking back - It has been one of the hardest year of my life, but also one of the most wonderful one of my life.

I would like to express my thanks to my family and to my friends who were always with me and supported me– when the times were tough and when the times were changing for the better. THANK YOU …

The Hottest Tips :-)

Driving licence

Memorable times

  1. September 6th, 2005. Jump start: It was just before dawn, on the first day of school. I realized the battery on my car was dead, and I was afraid to show up late on the first day of an important year at Lahser High School. I asked a neighbor I had never met to jump start my car. I arrived to school on time and later treated the man, who I now know as Chris, with wine and chocolate.
  2. February 28th, 2006. Traffic violation: While on my way to school, I was pulled over by police man (he told me I ran a red light! I thought I ran yellow). Fine: $130. Oh boy! Note To Self: Always obey road signs!!!!
  3. April 29th, 2006. Car problem: My car (Ford Escort 1998) was being towed after alternator burned out. To have my car fixed up cost $300.
Car problem

April 28, 2005: My car being towed after alternator burned out.

Car problem

May 7, 2005: Despite some troubles the car served me well for the entire year and brought me safely wherever I wanted to go.

I will not forget these funny memories, which were not as funny when they occurred!

Teacher

n. One who inspires, guides, enlightens, motivates; tireless scholar

There are very few people more important than our teachers. In addition to teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic, the best Ones make us want to keep learning long after we have left the classroom. They help us develop patience, a sense of humor, and skills of all kinds. They teach us how to become the people we want to be-and their influence lasts throughout our lives. There are certainly teachers we will always remember. And, In retrospect, the important lessons we learned from them was most likely not in the textbooks. It was the example they set by being the people they were that we remember most.
Mitchell Uscher

Saying good-by is not easy ...

Who else could sum up better my one-year being here in the USA than one of my colleagues, Chrys Moelter-Gray, World Languages Department Head. This is her speech she made at the Lahser Staff meeting on Friday, June 16, 2006.

Chrys Moelter-Gray’s closing speech:
JARI PATLOKOVA

Last night a few of us had the privilege of spending a few hours with Jari and her husband Ivo. It was a time to celebrate a friendship that though short in length has become deep. And tomorrow morning Jari and Ivo will be setting off on an adventure to the West Coast, so we need to say a few words to sum up the year Jari has spent with us.

In order to get here, Jari of course had to apply and undergo the screening and evaluation process to become a Fulbright Exchange teacher. I do not know much about that procedure, but I am sure it was a rather tense time. Then imagine being selected, and actually taking the first step toward leaving family, friends and familiar job situation to head to another part of the world. Who could know what life would be like? Would the situation be worth the price of not being home to experience the birth of your granddaughter? To spend a year away from a beloved spouse? To give up your own comfortable home and volunteer to live somewhere, sight unseen, for a year, while another person occupies your own home? And we are not talking about someone fresh out of college, when many of us did have international experiences. This is a woman with an established teaching career, respected in her community – who’ s willing to step outside the confines of her established life and embark on a scary, exciting, year-long adventure.

And where did she end up? Here with us at Lahser, living in Jen and Derrick Teal’s home in Royal Oak, splitting her time at school between the English and the World Languages Departments. Jari did make her mark here. Her students, who refer to her as Mrs. P, love her. She formed close relationships with her students during her time here. She said last night that her belief that the relationship between the student and teacher is the most aspect of teaching, has only been confirmed by her time here at Lahser.

But Jari did not confine herself to the many walls here at Lahser during her American Fulbright adventure. She packed everything she could into this year. She had the joys and nightmares of home ownership, from leaf raking and maple spinners to clogged drains and sewer lines. She owned and maintained a car, which suffered not a few mechanical problems. Not content just to drive with her International permit, she took Carl Dull’s personalized driver’s training course, took the driving test and experienced that most American of institutions, the Secretary of States’ office. Then, as a card carrying Michigan driver, she was almost arrested on her way to school one morning! She saw the police car with the flashing lights behind her, but no imagining that they were for her, she didn’t pull over. Back up was called for, and finally, when Jari stopped, the policemen came toward her with weapons drawn! So she also had the American experience of attending traffic court!

She wasn’t content with seeing every site in the Metro Detroit area, and collecting every piece of Motown memorabilia, going to red Wing’s games, visiting the DSO, DIA, Greenfield Village, Belle Isle – no, she had to venture out and see Chicago-twice-, New York, Boston, Washington DC. And tomorrow she and Ivo are heading to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

But life hasn’t been all peaches and cream here either. During the winter she received word that Ivo had fallen on some ice, broken some ribs and was hospitalized. Naturally her first inclination was to get on a plane and go home. But she made several long distance calls and the doctors convinced her that they were taking good care of Ivo, so she stayed. She also had several debilitating health issues herself. High blood pressure, a burst blood vessel in her eye, a wisdom tooth needed emergency extraction, not to mention the usual bugs and flu. And if you think it is miserable being sick, try being sick all by yourself away from home.

But Jari has been a trooper. And not only did she tough it out, she contributed in so many ways to our lives. Professionally, she participated in LCLC. She adopted our ESL students and brought a different perspective to their English learning endeavors. She was our keynote speaker for Foreign Language Week. She tried to visit and observe as many different teachers as she could here, and would always spend time with her host to compliment and give feedback.

She brought out the best in us by being a real Mensch. She shared our joys and sosorrows as we tried to share hers. We have grown to love and appreciate her and we’ll really miss her. We’re trying to figure out when we can all go visit! Just so that she’ll have something more than memories to recall, we would like to give Jari a small token of our appreciation, love and affection.

Jari missed the Staff meeting on Wednesday and so she didn’t see the presentation of the Staff Awards to our long-serving faculty members, so I’ll briefly explain to her that this gift is what is awarded to a staff member who has served the Bloomfield Hills School District for 10 years. Since Jari has packed 20 years of experiences into this one year, we felt it was appropriate to present her with this gift.

Remember, you’ll always be one of us, Jari!

GoodBye, Lahser GoodBye, Lahser

My colleagues in the 500 Wing have prepared a brief musical interlude, and we hope you’ll all join in to let Jari know how we feel about her.

“Consider Yourself”

To Jari:

Consider yourself at home.

Consider yourself one of the family.

We’ve taken to you so strong.

It’s clear we’re more than getting along.

Consider yourself well in

Consider yourself part of the furniture.

There isn’t a lot to spare.

Who cares? What ever we’ve got we share!

If it should chance to be

We should see

Some harder days

Empty larder days

Why grouse?

Always a-chance we’ll meet

Somebody

To foot the bill

Then the drinks are on the house!

Consider yourself our mate.

We don’t want to have no fuss,

For after some consideration, we can state ...

Consider yourself

One of us!

Consider yourself at home.

Consider yourself one of the family.

We’ve taken to you so strong.

It’s clear we’re more than getting along.

Consider yourself well in

Consider yourself part of the furniture.

There isn’t a lot to spare.

Who cares? What ever we’ve got we share!

Consider yourself

One of us!

Lahser High School Staff

I will.

I will always be one of you.

I will never forget you and someday I will come back to visit Lahser High School, which became more than my second home here ...

Love, Jari

Royal Oak, July 1st, 2006.

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