MAYFIELD - Growing up as the stepdaughter of an American soldier, Mayfield Central?School?District third-grade teacher Samantha Mulford-Phillips spent many different occasions in Germany, and she will be returning to her former home today.
After taking a group-study tour in Eastern Europe last year, the British-native Mulford-Phillips will return to Europe for another group study.
Her 2011 trip involved stops in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and the German-capital Berlin. This time her trip will be an all-German one with some familiar stops.
Mayfield Central?School?District third-grade teacher Samantha Mulford-Phillips points out Berlin, one of her destinations on a group study tour of Germany she will attend.
The Leader-Herald/John Borgolini
Phillips, who has worked at Mayfield since 2004, explained that when she was a teenager, her family lived near the Ramstein Air Force Base during the Cold War - when Germany was split between the communist east and democratic west.
"I lived there for about a year back in the early '80s, so for me it's just, I didn't really appreciate what I saw - what I lived through - during that time period," she said. "Obviously I was just a teenager. But now - from a historian's perspective, and from a social studies teacher's perspective in particular - I'm fascinated with the history that I lived through with, really, relative unawareness, because I was protected by the American military."
Mulford-Phillips will be joining 11 other teachers from across the U.S. on a two-week tour of the country. Stops will be made in Berlin, Quedlinburg, Point Alpha (central Germany) and the Fulda Gap (an invasion route from the Rhine Valley to Eastern Germany).
Mayfield Superintendent Paul Williamsen said the third-grade teacher's professional development is tremendous for her and her teaching skills, which truly benefits the students.
"I think this is a wonderful opportunity for her and a wonderful opportunity for the district," Williamsen said. "She's going to bring back culture and share that with the kids. She understands the need for globalization for the students."
The educators' purpose on the trip will be to gather information and use it during future lessons.
"This trip brings educators together from across the world, and we're learning about modern Germany economically, from their government standpoint, culturally and their education system," Mulford-Phillips said. "Our purpose is realistically to be ambassadors of the American education system, but also to explore how the government works with the education system within Germany."
Developing her own curriculum won't be so simple, however.
Mulford-Phillips explained that as a third-grade teacher, her social studies teachings are guidelined by the state to be about world communities. She said new common-course standards for her overall third-grade lessons must involve English language arts, but she plans on integrating them with a bit of history.
Mulford-Phillips also looks to incorporate technology into her lessons. She said that the students often use Google Earth to get a better understanding of the area they are studying and focus on cultural studies when they are in the computer lab. Mulford-Phillips has even incorporated Skype sessions with her parents in her teachings. She said this allows students to hear different accents and experience people in their natural setting.
From her trip last year, Mulford-Phillips brought back maps, train schedules - anything in a different language. She looks to bring back unique symbols and representations of the countries she has been to.
"Even wrappers from candy or biscuits or something that I had, they find fascinating, because it's in a different language, and they think, 'Ooh, what does this taste like?'" she said. "So for them, they get to have a taste of Europe, and in particular from that experience, we developed a whole tasting experience called 'The Taste of Europe.'
"We presented to the community - to parents, administration and the school - different flavors of different countries. So they were able to study the unique foods."