West Bloomfield resident Pam Opolsky poses with a group of Indonesian students in July.

West Bloomfield resident Pam Opolsky poses with a group of Indonesian students in July.

Photo provided by Pam Opolsky


West Bloomfield woman travels to Indonesia to teach

By: Maddie Forshee | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published August 17, 2018

 Opolsky, center, is surrounded by a class of students she guest taught in Indonesia as part of a fellowship.

Opolsky, center, is surrounded by a class of students she guest taught in Indonesia as part of a fellowship.

Photo provided by Pam Opolsky

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WEST BLOOMFIELD — A local woman just returned from the trip of a lifetime, a research jaunt to Indonesia.

Pam Opolsky, a West Bloomfield resident, is a middle school science teacher who took part in a program called Teachers for Global Classrooms through the International Researchers and Exchanges Board, a yearlong professional development program for all teachers to become leaders in global education. 

“I had this goal: I wanted to do volunteer work in major regions of the world,” she said. “As a teacher, I found (this program),” which she said is “all to promote global education. It’s about letting our students learn different perspectives.”

Opolsky said she applied with about 150 other teachers, and about half them were accepted into the program. About 13 teachers went to Indonesia, while others went to India, Colombia or Morocco. 

Opolsky previously taught at Jefferson International Academy and will teach at Crescent Academy in Southfield this fall. 

“I’m all about bringing global education in,” said Opolsky. “There’s a lot of interpersonal connection (in Indonesia) that I saw that’s really so different from here that garnered a lot of respect between students and teachers.” 

As part of the program, selected teachers complete a graduate-level course; attend a conference in Washington, D.C.; then travel overseas for two to three weeks to experience another country’s culture and education system. The teachers also complete a capstone project. 

“There were multiple layers to the project she was on — it was classwork; it was projects; she created units for the kids at school,” said Elizabeth Ruff, the former principal of Jefferson International Academy, which is now closed. “The culmination was going to Indonesia. ... Our goal was to make our students more globally minded citizens.” 

Ruff said she had never had a teacher she worked with take part in such a program. 

“We want our students to be able to be competitive in a global market, so they have to understand there’s a bigger world out there than Michigan,” said Ruff. “There are other people out there and ways we can understand them.” 

For more information about the Teachers for Global Classrooms program, visit www.irex.org/project/teachers-global-class rooms-program-tgc.

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