Image of Sudharani Alamanda

Students in Sudharani Alamanda’s special education classes learn about mathematics, science and social studies. But they also learn about Indian dances, sample Indian food, draw pictures and write stories about Indian culture.

During her three years in Columbia, S.C., she has taught the students at W.G. Sanders Middle School as much about her home country as she has about core subjects. And for this she was recently awarded the 2011 South Carolina International Educator Award. Presented by the South Carolina Department of Education, the award recognizes teachers native to other countries who have developed creative ways to bring their culture into the classroom during International Education Week.

As a participant in the International Visiting Teachers’ Program, Alamanda traveled to the United States along with her husband, a full-time ministry worker, and their two young children who attend a nearby elementary school.

This is her final year in the program, which she credits for “teaching me different methods and engaging students with innovative activities.”

“This program made me think about my school system and learning system and also gave me the opportunity to learn about another country’s education and learning system,” she said.

She hopes to implement what she has learned when she returns to India.

“Teachers can learn so many things from this program, especially using technology, teaching with activities – instead of memorization, which many places use — and planting the seeds for permanent learning and classroom management,” she said. “The program also increases the unity between cultures.”