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School board member to travel to Germany for study group

Howard Kim / The SPOKE

By Howard Kim, Co-News Editor

From April 13 to 20, school board member Dr. Roberta Hotinski will travel to Germany as part of the first international study group hosted by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA), a non-profit association for school board members.

During the trip, 15 PSBA members will examine the German K-12 educational system, focusing on aspects such as dual education and pre-kindergarten preparation. The group’s goal is to identify and recommend aspects of the German school system for implementation in school districts across Pennsylvania.

After discovering the program through a PSBA announcement, Hotinski submitted an application to the organization explaining why she would be a valuable member of the trip and citing her various experiences with German culture and language. She learned that the organization accepted her on Dec. 5.

“I wanted to go because I felt like I had a lot of experience that would help make it a successful trip,” Hotinski said. “I thought that I would bring a good set of skills to it that would help make sure that we get useful information from this trip and help them (and) that I’d be a good person to help gather information and bring back lessons learned.”

Hotinski grew up in Germany, where her father was stationed in the Air Force, and picked up the language early on. She then majored in German in college and traveled abroad to a German-speaking region of Switzerland for part of her postsecondary education. Her husband is a German immigrant, and they frequently speak the language within their household.

Before traveling, the study group held three Zoom meetings with leaders in Germany’s education system, business sector and government agencies to gain familiarity with the way the country approaches education. After the trip, members will compile a report of their findings to present to the PSBA at the 2024 Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators and PSBA School Leadership Conference in October.

Throughout the trip, members will focus on four main topics: teacher employment, recruitment and retention; pedagogical practice K-12 and emerging strategies; career pipeline and career and technical education center programming; and funding, structures and governance. Hotinski said that she  hopes to learn more about the way the German education system allows for students to have real-world work experience prior to entering the workforce as adults.

“It’s seen as a strength of their system that they have this opportunity for students,” Hotinski said. “There’s a close relationship between industry and the educational system that helps students prepare and also is helpful to industry because then (employers) are getting workers with the kinds of skills that are needed. There are positives on both sides there.”

Howard Kim can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Howard Kim
Howard Kim, Co-Editor-in-Chief
Howard Kim is a junior and the Co-News Editor of The Spoke. Last year, he served as a Co-Sports Editor. He likes to cover local government and sports-related stories. Outside of the newspaper, he enjoys going on rollercoasters and watching Christopher Nolan movies.