09/05/04 — Teacher traveling to Tokyo

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Teacher traveling to Tokyo

By Don McLoud
Published in News on September 5, 2004 8:58 AM

Doris Ginn, a fourth-grade teacher at Eastern Wayne Elementary School, will spend three weeks in Japan, having been selected to an international travel program.

Ms. Ginn, Wayne County's 2002 Teacher of the Year, will be traveling to Tokyo with 200 educators in November as part of the Fulbright Memorial Fund Teacher Program. She was selected from 2,000 applicants from across the country.

While in Japan, she will meet with Japanese officials and educators, as well as visit schools, museums, industries and cultural sites. She will stay with a Japanese family.

She said she is looking forward to the adventure of the trip, but is a little leery of what her taste buds will encounter.

The 32-year veteran teacher is not a fan of sushi. But she adds jokingly that she won't let her country down. "If I have to eat a snail, I will, but I don't want to. But I'll do whatever is asked, because I'm representing my country."

She credits her selection for the program to a recommendation letter written by Dr. Steven Taylor, Wayne County schools superintendent.

Ms. Ginn is eager to see and experience new things with her group of educators, who hail from states such as Alabama, Texas, Michigan and Arizona.

"A part of that experience will be the bonding with teachers from all over the U.S. to find commonalities and appreciate the cultural differences and regional differences," she said.

As part of the award, Ms. Ginn is required to contribute to cultural awareness in her community and her school. Already she has a few ideas for what she would like to do upon returning.

She plans to create an electronic pen-pal program for her classroom and Japanese students.

She also plans to conduct educational workshops for teachers, incorporating Japanese poems, literature and folk tales. For the community, she plans to present pictures and speak about her experiences.

The Fulbright award covers the cost of her airline ticket, food, lodging, transportation and activities while in the country. While the U.S. Fulbright program was established 50 years ago, the Japanese exchange started only seven years ago. Since then, it has allowed more than 6,000 Japanese citizens to study in the United States with the goal of promoting greater cultural understanding between the two countries.

Veda McNair, principal of Eastern Wayne Elementary, is excited for Ms. Ginn. She describes her as a teacher who thinks "outside the box."

Ms. Ginn is known around the school for getting students involved in subjects in unconventional ways.

"She'll do anything to stimulate learning, anything to turn a kid on to a particular topic," Mrs. McNair said. "I think that is what makes great teachers -- going the extra mile."