Ishigase Elementary School children, parents and staff arrived last Friday and left on Wednesday amongst tears and embraces. Without hesitation, I declare that this has been the most successful program in the history of our partnership.
St Kilda Primary and Ishigase Elementary School have maintained an exceptionally strong relationship since 1996. Our partnership has evolved and is a highlight of both the St Kilda Primary Japanese Program and the Ishigase Elementary English Program. Each year, staff and students travel between Australia and Japan as part of our Home Stay Program. This offers all participants the opportunity to practise using another language in real life situations and increases cultural awareness and respect.
The relationship Ishigase Elementary School and St Kilda Primary School share is constantly evolving, and held in the highest regard by our communities for the immense educational and cultural benefits derived for all involved. Ideas are shared and intercultural understandings strengthened, students are provided with a real purpose for speaking, reading and writing in another language, families are offered the opportunity to host visiting families, communities value and embrace the positive impact of the partnership, and a strong global connection to a culture vastly different to our own is evident.
It is the recognition of the value of the program and how it makes a difference to the children across both schools that makes this relationship so highly successful. As school leaders, we have the power and ability to provide our students with optimal learning opportunities and our Sister School partnership exemplifies such learning.
We talk about global connections and 21 Century learning in a digital world – yet to create the opportunity for our students to: live, breath, share, taste and experience life with new found friends in foreign countries to our own is transformational. The language development alone of our students is immense. Yet the greatest impact is the smiles, laughter and embraces that comes readily from having real and meaningful connections. It is heart-warming.
To further enhance our partnership, technology will be used to regularly communicate between Ishigase Elementary School and St Kilda Primary to maintain positive and rich relationships between both the staff and students. We hope that these channels of communication become an integral part of our connection and will be driven by our student body. Collaboration between the teachers in Japan and Australia will allow the teachers to share, reflect and discuss effective teaching approaches of a second language to primary aged children.
Ishigase Elementary School and St Kilda Primary School recognise that opportunities abound when you have a Sister School relationship that is rich and meaningful. The benefits of the program are immeasurable. The bonds formed cannot be described, but can only be felt by the heart to truly understand the impact our sister school relationship has on so many children, parents and staff.
Shortly we will commence the process of selecting the student group who will travel to Japan in 2018.