Students from Turkey experience flash of culture

Jaclyn Dixon

Most people in the United States would take “koleji” to be a badly misspelled word.

To students in Turkey, however, it means “school.”

In 2005, Istanbul partnered with the College of Education, Health and Human Services at Kent State to form Kent State Koleji, a new bilingual and bicultural elementary school. The school is located in Turkey.

The elementary school came about because of a long-standing relationship between the Gerald Read Center at Kent State and a number of institutions in Turkey.

“Kent State Koleji is intended to become a laboratory best-practices school that would be a model for their whole educational system,” said Wendy Kasten, professor of curriculum and instruction in literacy.

Kent State Koleji wanted help transforming its partners’ curriculums to become more student-centered with more critical thinking.

Anne Reynolds, Janice Kroeger, Alexa Sandmann and Kasten, all professors in the School of Education, helped develop the curriculum for the new school. They also helped design the building, select furnishings and materials, assess research development and evaluate teachers.

“Kent State Koleji is a model school in Turkey that is as promising as our best schools in the U.S.,” Kasten said. “It’s a place for professional parents in Turkey to send their child where it will help them transition into university studies abroad.”

On July 23, parents and their children are coming from Istanbul to enroll their children in the Kent for Kids program for the first time. Parents are being hosted by the Gerald Read Center for International and Intercultural Education at Kent State, and families will stay at the University Inn during the two-week program.

“We’re thrilled to host these Turkish families to make the ties between Kent State Koleji and KSU closer, to share American culture and to promote the development of a dual- language world-class school,” said Linda Robertson, director of the Center for International and Intercultural Education at Kent State.

“Kent for Kids is designed to give kids a diverse and fun summer experience on campus,” said Linda Darling, program coordinator.

Kent for Kids is a summer enrichment program for children entering kindergarten through eighth grade. The program, which has existed for 30 years, offers more than 60 classes in dance and music, sports and games, science and technology, arts and crafts, and language arts. Four classes are offered every day and children have the opportunity to participate in one or all of the classes offered.

“The parents are coming to give their child an immersion experience in learning English and to visit KSU,” Robertson said.

Five families and 10 children from Turkey will be coming to Kent State. Each family will pay for its visit.

“For the kids that are coming here from Turkey, it will be an opportunity for them to experience first-hand American culture and the quintessential American experience,” Darling said.

Contact colleges of Business and Education reporter Jaclyn Dixon at [email protected].