This past weekend (Friday, June 2, to Sunday, June 4, 2017), we were able to attend a few sessions of the 6th Annual Conference of Czech Schools in North America.
This years conference was hosted by the Czech School of Atlanta Honoring Karel Velan and the conference organizer is a division of the Czech North America Chamber of Commerce & Culture, Inc. which, along with Mr. Velan, was implemental to the start up of this particular school.
The three-day event was held at the lovely Goethe-Zentrum Atlanta.
This year’s conference brought in 90 participants, many of them teachers at the various Czech schools from all over the United States and Canada. Some had attended previous conferences, while others, like the representatives of emerging schools in Canada and Las Vegas, were there for the very first time.
The conference was also attended by the Vice-Chairman of the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic, Jaroslav Kubera, and the Chairman of the Standing Commission of the Senate for Compatriots Living Abroad, Tomáš Grulich, the newly appointed Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the United States of America, H. E. Hynek Kmoníček, and the Cultural Attaché, Šárka Ponroy Vamberová.
In addition, there were members of the staff of the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and The Centre for International Cooperation in Education (DZS). The Czech Schools Without Borders Organization was represented by its President, Lucie Slavikova-Boucher.
At the opening ceremony, the Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the United States H. E. Hynek Kmoníček welcomed the Honorary General Consul of the Czech Republic in Atlanta, George Novak.
After a brief tour of the city and the introduction of pupils and parents of the Czech School in Atlanta, an intensive two-day training program, full of examples of good practice, the mutual exchange of experience and an abundance of inspiration for the teachers to take with them into the next school year, was launched.
There were wonderful new works introduced for the students and teachers in the upcoming school year.
A rich educational weekend was made possible by the Charles University who sent two experts from the Institute for Language and Preparatory Studies, and the Ministry of Education who brought a RWCT (Reading and Writing for Critical Thinking Program) lecturer.
You may view the full program here: http://www.czechschoolsamerica.org/atlanta-2017.html
The event was organized by Lenka Panáková Mohwish, President and co-founder of the Czech School of Atlanta, Klára Moldová, Vice-President of T. G. Masaryk Czech School in Chicago and special envoy of The Centre for International Cooperation in Education (DZS), and George Novak, the Honorary General Consul of the Czech Republic in Atlanta.
The 7th Annual Conference is already being planned for the next year and it will be held in San Francisco.
Meanwhile, Czech teachers from all around the world will meet at the annual International Conference of the Czech Schools Without Borders taking place in Prague, in August this year. Click here for more information.
The Czech School of Atlanta is based on the principles initiated by Česká škola bez hranic (Czech School without Borders) and they (along with all other Czech schools in North America) work closely on a complete curriculum to best benefit the children.
The Czech schools are for all children who are interested in learning to speak, sing, write, read and think in the Czech language.
They also exist to allow youngsters to understand and know the culture and history of the Czech Republic.
At the Atlanta school, they are currently serving children from ages 2 to 15. You are looking at our photos of materials created by the Czech School of Atlanta’s children.
Classes are divided by age and this year they added Slovak classes as well. Classes typically run for 32 weeks and last 2 hours per week.
Locations vary dependent upon each individual school and their needs.
Classes range from $7-12 per hour and most offer sibling discounts. In addition to lessons, the children often participate in community outreach and celebrations for holidays like Easter and Mikuláš (Saint Nicholas Day).
Czech language classes for adults also exist at many of the schools.
Klára Moldová has created a special map where all the Czech schools and their contact information are listed as well as a website (Czech Schools in America) to serve for further cooperation of the schools.
The children learn through various lessons, theater, play, and with the help of music, artistic activities and printed materials.
I remember that in my time, when families wanted to interact with other Czechs or learn more about our Czech heritage, we’d attend the local community or cultural center which the elders would rent out on special holidays or occasions. That’s if we were lucky enough to live in a larger city. Others would have to rely on parents or grandparents to teach them about their roots, culture, traditions, heritage and language.
We believe it’s absolutely wonderful that cities all over the world are opening Czech Schools because so many Czechs have branched out and live worldwide. And the benefits of attending are too numerous to list. But no matter where we are, what binds us most perhaps, is the language with which we identify, Czech. Because this is the primary focus of the Czech schools, it’s why they are such an important initiative.
Please make sure to check out the school nearest you and if there isn’t one – then don’t be afraid to start the dialogue of how you can make it happen in your city. You’ll find some wonderful information at this link. In addition, you can locate the school nearest you at Czech Schools in America.
We wish to thank Mr. Karel Velan and his family, the Czech North America Chamber of Commerce & Culture, Inc. and Česká škola bez hranic.