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New Rochelle Educator Brings Back Lessons From Vietnam Experience

New Rochelle educator Elizabeth Barrett-Zahn teaching in Vietnam.
New Rochelle educator Elizabeth Barrett-Zahn teaching in Vietnam. Photo Credit: Contributed

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. - A New Rochelle educator has returned to the classroom after spending the summer abroad in Vietnam, running a STEM academy for elementary school students.

Elizabeth Barrett-Zahn, the science coordinator at Columbus Elementary School spent the summer traveling in Hai Phong City after receiving a Fulbright Distinguished Award grant to start a short-term teaching program in Vietnam.

Barrett-Zahn was one of nine Americans to earn the prestigious award that is granted by the United States Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

For several weeks, Barrett-Zahn engaged with elementary students and parents at the Huu Nghi School, educating them using the techniques and lessons she’s developed stateside in New Rochelle.

According to school officials, teachers who use the traditional classroom lecture method of teaching, got an opportunity to observe Barrett-Zahn's planning and implementation of STEM lessons. Barrett-Zahn then watched as the teachers taught their students, offering feedback. The collaboration helped clarify the importance of teaching students in a hands-on, minds-on, inclusive, scientifically challenging manner.

Zahn was selected for the Fulbright grant “on the basis of academic and professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential.” Last year, she was awarded the Anton Bank Award for excellence in elementary school science teaching, given by the Science Teacher’s Association of New York.

"Teaching children to think critically and creatively is at the heart of all learning," Barrett-Zahn said upon her return. "To do this, we must be willing to take risks and extend our own learning beyond the classroom walls. My Fulbright Vietnam experience certainly filled that bill as it provided the opportunity to solidify and distill long-held beliefs and approaches to teaching and learning.”

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