Two Wood River Valley-based educators will represent the United States at an international conference on education next week in Brasilia, Brazil.
David Holmes, executive director of the Lee Pesky Learning Center, and Lonnie Barber, assistant superintendent of the Blaine County School District, will jointly discuss career academies as a way to promote continued and vocational education at the International Seminar on the Frontier of Professional Education on Nov. 10. Their joint power-point presentation will be simultaneously translated and will appear on screen in Portuguese.
The seminar is sponsored by the National Trade Confederation of Goods, Services and Tourism and promoted by the education committee of the Chamber of Deputies of the Brazilian Parliament. The seminar will also feature guest speakers and educators from Finland, Austria, Germany and Italy. Confederation President Antonio Oliveria Santos is a colleague of Holmes. Santos and Holmes recently helped open a concept boarding school in Brazil for low-income kids, which now has 177 students.
As part of their presentation, Holmes will give a brief history of the democratic ideal of education in the U.S., leading up to the Barber's discussion of the Career Academies at the Wood River High School. The Pesky Center's Janet Shafran Center is located at the Community Campus in Hailey next to the high school.
"The academies are important to our system," Barber said. "It gives kids a chance to specialize before they leave school. The schools in Brazil are not very good and they are considering this model."
As well, they will discuss the College Aspirations Program between the Wood River High School and Bellevue Elementary School, a result of an "intellectual partnership" between the Lee Pesky Learning Center and the Blaine County School District, Holmes said.
"The conference will focus on the transition from secondary to high school, for young people to prepare for higher learning and professional education," Holmes said. "And we have a great example of that with the nine career academies at the Wood River High School. The main reason for this is that kids need jobs. Brazil's public education is very weak. They sometimes only go to school half days and there may be as many as 40 kids in a class. This is a vulnerability for Brazil to become a major player in the world."
After the seminar Holmes and Barber will visit the concept school outside of Rio, and work with the principal there, before heading back to the U.S.