The University of Hartford is welcoming 40 educators from the Republic of Rwanda to its campus this weekend to start a month-long program (July 28 – Aug. 22) designed for Rwandan teachers to enhance their skills, thereby increasing their effectiveness in the classroom and as educational leaders. Among the topics being covered in the program will be English Language Learning, Instructional Methods, Educational Leadership, Peaceful Communication, Visual Arts, and Understanding Global Genocides.
This pilot program is spearheaded by Joseph Olzacki,who is serving as director of this Rwandan Teacher Education Program. Olzacki, a University of Hartford alumnus, had previously served as director of arts education in the Bloomfield Public Schools and has developed close ties with the government and people of Rwanda through various trips to discuss his award winning Identity Project – a project that focused on using modern lessons from the Holocaust and other Genocides to strengthen student identity. Working with Olzacki in this endeavor is Donn Weinholtz, director of the Educational Leadership doctoral program in the University’s College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions.
“I am delighted that we have developed this program in a partnership with the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Rwanda,” said University of Hartford President Walter Harrison. “It represents a very promising partnership, not only between the University and the Ministry, but between our countries. And I am very proud of the educational team that Joe has assembled, who will both learn from and teach their Rwandan colleagues.”
Taught by a team of University of Hartford faculty and Greater Hartford educators, the Rwandan teachers will engage in a solid regimen of training courses and events designed to broaden the scope of their knowledge and skills. They, in turn, will share their learning with their colleagues as leaders within the Rwandan schools. If funding allows, the team from the United States plans to offer month-long training bi-annually in Rwanda with the goal of educating a large percentage of Rwandan teachers over the next 10 years.
To gain a greater understanding of understand American culture, the group will visit Mystic Seaport, the Mohegan History Museum, Sturbridge Village, and other sites in New York City and Boston during their stay here. “Through this program, we will support Rwandan teachers as they learn to teach more effectively and with new proven skills,” Olzacki said. “Ultimately, the goal of this partnership is to improve the lives of the children of Rwanda.”
The Rwandan Teacher Training Program was developed with help from a grant from Alan Lazowski, chairman and CEO of LAZ Parking, in honor of his parents Rabbi Philip and Ruth Lazowski – both educators and Holocaust survivors. Initial planning assistance was also provided by the University’s Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies.
The comprehensive Rwandan program schedule and curricula were designed to reinforce skills in cooperation with the Rwandan Ministry of Education, the Rwandan Education Board and Olzacki during fact finding trips to Rwanda in late November 2013 and by Weinholtz, who joined Olzacki on a May 2014 trip. Olzacki and Weinholtz traveled throughout Rwanda to witness first hand the challenges faced in Rwandan schools.