GAINESVILLE — Three secondary school principals from Brazil and the director of a national organization of top Brazilian state educators are touring Northeast Georgia this week, sampling the culture and visiting schools.
The group is part of 24 educators from various Brazilian states meeting with educators throughout the United States to observe school leadership and administration in action, as well as teacher development and community involvement.
The U.S. Department of State Fulbright Teacher Exchange Program is sponsoring the visit.
Local coordinators are Ken Frank, professor of conflict resolution and legal studies at Brenau University in Gainesville, and Maryellen Cosgrove, Division of Health Education and Wellness chairwoman at Gainesville State College in Oakwood.
The 24 educators, who gathered last week in Washington, D.C., for an orientation program, will return to Washington to discuss their findings.
"They (will) tell what they have observed and what impressed them," said Heloísa Luck, education consultant and general program coordinator for Brazil’s National Council of State Secretaries of Education.
"What I have observed is when they come back together, they are full of life and enthusiasm."
The Brazilians plan to meet with educators from Gainesville State and Brenau, Gainesville city schools, schools in White and Habersham counties, as well as Brenau, Lakeview and Riverside Military academies.
Today, they are set to attend the board of controllers meeting for the Pioneer Regional Educational Services Agency, which provides services to 13 school systems in 12 Northeast Georgia counties.
The agency is based in Cleveland.
The principals joining Luck on the trip, which ends Thursday, are Wânia Aparecida de Oliveira Camacho, Maria Sônia Costa Barreto and Tarcízio Pires Soares.
Luck is bilingual, but interpreter Luiz Carvahlho is translating for the three principals.
Luck, who was educated in part at the University of Oregon and Columbia University, said the Brazilian delegation is interested in mingling with school staff and students and learning about teaching and administration in U.S. schools.
They also are studying processes in U.S. schools that help students, teachers and administrators achieve their goals. "It is a wonderful opportunity as educators to meet people from other countries," she said.
The visitors also will meet in social settings with Brazilians who are studying in the area and American educators and others who have spent time in Brazil.
In addition to the Gainesville area, other locales welcoming Brazilian teams are Platteville, Wis.; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Bellingham, Wash.; Olympia, Wash.; Hamilton, Ohio; Fort Wright, Ky.; and Cleveland Heights, Ohio.
In an interview Monday at Brenau Academy, an all-girls college preparatory boarding school, Luck said that the trip was going well so far.
Gainesville has a "good quality of life, a very keen civic perspective, very good schools and people very much interested in ... globalization," Luck said.
"This is why we are here. People are so nice to invite us here to receive this program."
Through Carvahlho, Soares said he has found that area residents are "very hospitable and very concerned about education."
Luck said the program also provides an opportunity for American educators to visit Brazil.