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NC State College of Education, NC State European Center Collaborate to Provide More Opportunities for Education Students to Study Abroad

Dean Danowitz Visits NC State Prague
Dean Mary Ann Danowitz, NC State European Center in Prague Director Kim Strozewski and Filip Rudorfer from Charles University's College of Education, Department of Science and Research. Photo by Anaël Symůnková of NC State Prague.

Over the past five years, the NC State College of Education has had an average of 40 students study abroad each year. Now the college is partnering with the NC State European Center in Prague (NC State Prague) to provide additional opportunities for more education students to study abroad.

As a result of this partnership, the NC State College of Education sent its first student — middle grades science education major and Teaching Fellow Ashton Crump — to study abroad in Prague for a full semester this fall. In addition, next semester, NC State Prague will launch a course specifically for education students.

“We are excited to expand our course offerings in Prague to help more College of Education students study abroad,” said Megan Winzeler, associate director of NC State Prague. “We plan to continue our partnership with the College of Education to expand opportunities for even more education majors in the future.”

NC State College of Education Dean Mary Ann Danowitz visited NC State Prague earlier this semester to discuss further collaboration efforts and how to better enable education students to study abroad. She met with NC State Prague Director Kim Strozewski, faculty from Charles University’s College of Education and Crump.

“NC State Prague provides an opportunity for our students to engage with students across the NC State colleges in courses taught by Czech faulty members and to have an experience in a culture where they do not speak the language,” said Danowitz. “This is extremely important because it will enable all our students to better understand the experiences of the English language learners they will be teaching in school and to understand what it’s like to come into a culture other than one’s own culture.”

Below is a deeper look at the new course for education students that will be offered next semester in Prague, as well as student Ashton Crump’s study abroad experience.

College of Education Student Spends Fall Semester in Prague

Teaching Fellow and science education major Ashton Crump ’22 is the first NC State Education student to study for a full semester in Prague. Crump is currently spending the fall semester abroad, where she is taking astronomy, philosophy, Czech language and culture, and horticulture courses.

“What attracted me to the Prague program was the NC State European Center. I really liked the idea of still having a connection to NC State and being able to meet people who I would be able to see long after my study abroad experience ends,” said Crump. “They also offer a wide variety of classes, including general education courses that are very flexible in meeting degree audits for a lot of different majors.”

Dean Mary Ann Danowitz with student Ashton Crump. Photo by Anaël Symůnková.
Dean Mary Ann Danowitz with student Ashton Crump. Photo by Anaël Symůnková.

Before going to Prague, Crump had never traveled outside of the United States and was looking to immerse herself in something new. Now that she is in Prague, Crump has learned about different cultures and languages, and has had the opportunity to visit a number of countries in Europe.

“The language barriers, diversity and differing cultures have provided me the opportunity to grow in how I work to understand, learn and grow,” said Crump. “With such great diversity in classrooms, these skills will be ones I most definitely will apply to my classrooms in the years to come when working with both students, parents and other colleagues.”

During her visit with Danowitz, Crump spoke about how beneficial it would be for education students who study in Prague to have opportunities to observe and visit Czech schools. Danowitz is now working with staff at NC State Prague to develop a plan where education students will have the opportunity to observe in schools at all levels of education.

“To other education students, please take the opportunity to study abroad if you have it. It has provided me with so many new skills and tools that I can already see myself applying in the classroom,” said Crump. “It also provides a great sense of self awareness, which is something I think all educators need.”

New Education Course Launching in Prague Summer 2020

In an effort to offer more opportunities for NC State College of Education students to study abroad, NC State Prague will offer EDP 304: Educational Psychology starting in Summer 2020. The course will be taught by NC State College of Education alumnus, former NC State College of Education instructor and Czech Republic native Ondřej Pešout ’17PHD.

Pešout first connected with NC State in 2009 when he met Educational Psychology Professor John Nietfeld, Ph.D., in Finland. They bonded over an interest in metacognition and how to implement it into schools, which is Nietfeld’s field of research. The two collaborated and Pešout enrolled in NC State in 2012 as one of Nietfeld’s Ph.D. students. He worked closely with Nietfeld for five years and taught educational psychology and child development courses at NC State while earning his doctorate.

“I will try and repeat what John [Nietfield] did with his classes because it worked really well,” said Pešout. “I will do scavenger hunts, trivia (Czech facts), and make them more immersed in the culture. I would like to be able to give them this experience and I will definitely try to bring in some other Czech perspectives of educational psychology.”

Pešout graduated from Charles University in Prague in 2012 with a degree in psychology and continued his education at NC State, where he earned a doctorate in curriculum and instruction in 2017. He currently teaches educational psychology and child development courses at Jan Evangelista Purkyně University and works on research programs at the National Institute of Mental Health.

“During the summer, I will use what I learned about the Czech view of educational psychology and deliver it to new students so they have new views and they can compare and contrast how cultural differences impact teaching education,” Pešout said. “I think it is useful for them especially since future teachers in the U.S. will deal with a very diverse sample of students.”

Anaël Symůnková, a communications specialist with NC State Prague, contributed to this story.