Q and A with a Fulbright Exchange program teacher


English teacher Marguerite Edwards is involved in the Fulbright Teacher Exchange program. She comes from Scotland, where AHS English teacher Niki Holmes is teaching now. Edwards will be at AHS for the 2012-2013 school year. She will teach English 9 and Developing Literacies.

1. Why did you decide to become involved in the Fulbright Exchange program?

“Two years ago I did a study tour in the U.S. I visited Illinois, Missouri, upstate New York and Virginia. Specifically, Fairfax County. I saw lots of great things and became excited about the American education system. It was coincidental that I ended up here though, there was a bigger force that guided me here.”


2. What was your first impression of AHS?

“I loved the exterior, it reminded me of a 1950’s iconic airport design. When I walked in, I literally felt like it was a good atmosphere. I love the welcoming feeling from the faculty and the red and white colors, the positivity is amazing.”


3. What are some differences between the Scottish and U.S. school systems?

“In Scottish high school, grades 7-12 are considered high school, or actually secondary school. Your elementary school is primary school for us. Teachers also teach across all grades instead of teaching specific grade levels, so there is a bigger variety there. We refer to our students as pupils. But the biggest difference is probably that there is not the same emphasis on grades as there is here. We focus more on preparing for national exams that students must take in secondary school. At the end of grade 10, students across the country take an exam on the same day on eight different subjects. Then there is an intermediate exam. The highest exam is the benchmark exam, and students’ entry into the university is based on this exam.”


4. What are your goals for this year?

“I would like to absorb as much as possible about how education is delivered into the American classroom. I would also like to pick up fresh ideas while sharing Scottish education processes with my colleagues. Hopefully there will be much exchanged dialogue.”


5. How has the faculty helped you adjust?

“They’ve been very supportive. Ms. Philipps is my mentor so she helps me with any questions I have. The other ninth grade teachers have also been very approachable about general processes.”


6. How did your freshmen students react to having a Scottish teacher during freshman orientation?

“They identified my accent immediately but didn’t say much. I think they were just being shy, I think my manner will be much different than what they’ve been exposed to. I hope they will see it as a fresh chance.”


7. How has AHS been a good match for you?

“The diverse population is one of the most attractive things about the exchange.”


8. What is your favorite thing about the U.S. outside of the school system?

“The weather! It can be a bit hot, but I like that. In terms of people, everyone here is enthusiastic, everyone is always saying “how are you” and “hello”. I think it has to do with the weather, because it’s so cold in Scotland and that might be why it takes people a little time to warm up to you.”


9. How have you been keeping touch with your family and friends back in Scotland?

“My husband will come to visit in November for ten weeks and then leave to go back to work. Then he’ll come again in the Spring. I’ve also started a blog to keep people in the loop.”