Teachers are trading places

American exchange teacher Nicole Smith with class teacher Catherine McClung and some of her pupils
American exchange teacher Nicole Smith with class teacher Catherine McClung and some of her pupils

CASTLEFIELDS Infant School has welcomed a new teacehr to Rastrick – all the way from Portland, Oregon, USA.

Nicole Smith has swapped places with Year One teacher Kelly Sykes as part of a foreign exchange programme for the term year at the Rastrick school.

Ms Smith arrived in Britain on August 16 and is living at Miss Sykes’s home in Elland. She is teaching her class and her friends and family have eagerly adopted her

“We have literally just swapped lives. I am still being paid by my district and still paying my own mortgage while Kelly is doing the same here,” said Ms Smith.

“This is the first time I have done this and it is a fantastic experience. Kelly’s parents have been amazing and my parents have adopted her. My friends are inviting her to all their events.”

Ms Smith is also making the most of her time in Britain and has travelled to Scotland, visited London and plans to travel to Ireland and France.

“I am aiming to take full advantage of this opportunity and do as much travelling as possible so I can experience the different cultures,” she said. “I have also enjoyed trying all the different foods. I believe on a Friday it is a tradition here to go to the fish and chip shop and that’s something I really enjoyed.”

Ms Smith has been teaching at her school, Deer Creek Elementary School, Portland, for 11 years and has just finished her reading endorsement which is the equivalent to a deputy head qualification in the UK.

“I was just ready for a challenge and a different perspective,” she said. “I love it here. The staff have been incredibly supportive and helpful.

“It has surprised me how much the children are alike and how the parents have the same concerns to ones in America.

“I do miss home because they are having beautiful weather and I miss the restaurants. I am from a town that is very arty so I miss the galleries and the festivals but I know there is plenty to see here.

“I am settling in well at Castlefields and the children have been fantastic. They say things like ‘you are just like us but with a funny voice’ I occasionally have difficulty understanding what they are asking for but they are great to work with.”