My participation in the Educational Seminars, from the 10th October to the 3rd November 2012 in the USA, was the best experience of my life. I had the privilege to meet great people from different cultures and different countries (USA, Brazil, Argentina and Thailand) and I had the opportunity to immerse myself in the American culture and in their educational context which is so different from ours but, at the same time, so similar concerning the challenges of our school systems in a global world. The reception, the close relationship, openness and availability of the American community, especially in Carbondale, where I’ve been from the 13th to the 31st October, made ​​me feel at home!

In Carbondale, in the south of Illinois, I could learn about teaching, curriculum, school innovation and improvement, teacher’s development and, at the same time, I had a better understanding about the American school management and leadership while I was visiting different schools (Parrish School, Thomas School, Lewis School and Carbondale Middle School). During those visits I had the chance to share knowledge and experiences, interact with teachers, students, parents, principals and the whole community. My participation in the pumpkin feast and in the parents’ day at schools was very important for a better understanding about parents’ perspectives and to feel the school as an all. That experience allowed me to collect very good examples, some of them I’m already trying to implement in my school and in my community. I had the chance to participate in several meetings with teachers, parents and the school board; I participated in a training program for teachers, I observed different classrooms and they allowed me the access to lots of information, documentation and bibliography that I can use, even in the context of my PhD.

Mr. Shimshak, the superintendent in Carbondale 95th District and my host, is a visionary and an expert in education, school improvement and teaching development, so I have been very lucky because he is doing an excellent job in Carbondale. Through the concept of “adaptive school” he’s promoting real conditions for an effective answer to the challenge of globalization and cultural diversity. The training program for teachers and principals and a program to improve student’s behavior are great strategies to develop student’s learning process, teacher’s development and school results and management.

It was an honor for me to be part of Portugal’s first participation in this activity and I had the privilege of sharing this experience with Jorge Saleiro. During the workshops in Washington D.C., at the beginning and at the ending of the program, we shared with the other participants our knowledge and our experience about Portuguese educational system, about our schools, our practices and our country and culture. All the participants were very curious about Portugal and about our job as principals in a cluster. We strengthened relation, connection and friendship with the other participants and I can say that we have good conditions to develop projects and partnerships with other countries, improving practices and building a global citizenship.

Thank you Fulbright Commission and Luso-American Foundation for this unique and extraordinary opportunity that changed my way of seeing life!

Adélia Maria Leal Lopes
2012 Educational Seminars para Administradores Escolares, com o apoio da Comissão Fulbright e da Fundação Luso-Americana