Looking for adventure, Garrard teacher heading to Israel

June 29, 2004|JULIE McGLOTHLIN

When school starts in August, Tiffany Harris will be in the classroom once again. But instead of returning to her classroom at Garrard Middle School, she will be teaching in Israel.

Harris, a Boyle County native, is leaving in August to embark on a two-year master's program in Tel Aviv, Israel. She will be participating in the Teach and Study Program, which combines teaching English with classes at Tel Aviv University.

The program includes a variety of activities, including a summer orientation about Israel, teaching English as an intern in the Tel Aviv public schools, Hebrew language classes and graduate courses. At the end of the two years, Harris will have earned a master's degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.

After graduating from Eastern Kentucky University in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in middle school education, Harris started teaching seventh-grade world civilization and English at Garrard Middle School. She says she ended up at Garrard "on a fluke" and only planned to "work there for one year and then do something else. I ended up teaching 4 1/2 years," she says.


Teaching in the public schools in Tel Aviv will be distinct from teaching in the United States. Not only will she be working with a different school calendar and a different educational system, Harris also will be teaching English as a second language.

"It's going to be completely different," she says, pointing out that her experience teaching ESL is limited to church outreach teaching immigrants from Mexico and China, and consisted of a lot of charades and pointing.

Although she has traveled to El Salvador and Australia, Harris expects Israel to be different. "I don't think it will compare," she says with a smile.

Living in a city like Tel Aviv will be a big change for Harris. "I like living in the country, but I think I'll really enjoy seeing people interact," she says. She looks forward to observing the differences in Israeli and American life, like negotiating prices in the market. "I want to blend in and watch."

Her knowledge of Hebrew is limited, so, to communicate, she is relying on the fact that most people in Tel Aviv speak English. While the Hebrew language classes will undoubtedly help her navigate the city, "they'll (initially) test what our level of Hebrew is, which I can tell you right now will be nothing," says Harris as she jokes about being put in the kindergarten class. She hopes to eventually become fluent.

Her love of archeology makes Egypt, Greece and Crete must-see sites

In addition to her classroom studies, Harris plans to travel throughout the Mediterranean. Because of her love of archeology, her must-see sites include Egypt, Greece and Crete. She plans on traveling within Israel, visiting important monuments including Masada and the Galilee area.

Laughing, she adds, "Some really good sites are in Iraq, but I don't think I'll be going there ..."

During the summer, she hopes to volunteer on an archeological dig.

When asked about the violence in Israel, Harris says, "I'm not worried, but I will be aware."

She points out that aside from terrorism, the crime rate in Tel Aviv is quite low and there are very few murders. "A lot of times, I think a lot of what we see on TV is not the true picture. They're more isolated incidents." All the same, Harris plans to avoid coffee shops and buses.

Her family is supportive of her decision to go to Tel Aviv, despite the potential danger. Harris says, "Everyone else is thinking, 'This girl is crazy.' ... but they're really supportive."

Harris still doesn't know many of the details the program, but that doesn't seem to faze her. "It's kind of like going on the bare minimum ... I like adventure."

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