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UMPI, Lertlah Schools of Thailand sign agreement

Officials with the University of Maine at Presque Isle and the Lertlah Schools in Bangkok, Thailand, joined together on Friday, Sept. 18 at 10 a.m. to sign an agreement that will allow UMPI Education students to complete their teaching certification program by traveling to Thailand and working with students there.

UMPI President Don Zillman joined with Archarn Seri Parndejpong, Director of Lertlah Schools; Mr. Gary Smith, Assistant Director of Lertlah Schools; and Dr. Barbara Smith Chalou, UMPI Professor of Education for the Friday morning ceremony.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to gain a global perspective on education while earning their teacher certification status from the University of Maine at Presque Isle,” President Don Zillman said. “We are delighted with outreach approaches all around the world for our students and we anticipate that they will whole-heartedly embrace the opportunities afforded to them through this agreement with the Lertlah Schools of Thailand.”

As part of the agreement, the Lertlah Schools will accept between 20 and 25 students in their final year with the University’s teacher education program to work as teachers in their Bangkok classrooms. At the end of a successful 10-month student teaching experience, the Lertlah Schools will present an International Teaching Program certificate of completion to each student. Those students who successfully complete the Lertlah program and wish to continue at the school may be given the opportunity to teach for another year as a contracted teacher.

Officials said it took the institutions about 18 months of work to put together the memorandum of understanding signed on Friday. The agreement provides significant benefits for both schools. The Lertlah Schools will receive students who can bring a more global perspective into the classrooms and for the young Thai students they will work with. University students will become international teachers who can add to their skills set their experience teaching children of another language. UMPI Education faculty will engage with Lertlah faculty on best practices and the exchange of ideas. Both schools anticipate their collaboration will result in some Thai students coming to UMPI following their high school graduation at the Lertlah Schools.

The first cohort of UMPI students is expected to depart for Thailand and the Lertlah Schools next spring.