Young teacher works in New Zealand


August 26, 1999|By Joni Guhne | Joni Guhne,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

NEW ZEALAND is a dream destination for many American travelers, but 23-year-old Jessica Shank, daughter of Sam and Maggie Shank of Arnold, can check that trip off her list.

A 1993 graduate of Severna Park High School and a senior in elementary education at Salisbury State University, Shank just returned home after 12 weeks teaching elementary school in Auckland.

As envoys to the South Pacific nation, Shank and fellow student Cristina Merritt from Princess Anne are among more than 34 students sent to New Zealand in the past six years by the education department at Salisbury.

Instructing 30 kids at a time -- about the same number she would have in a class in the United States -- Shank spent five weeks teaching the equivalent of our first-graders and five more with fifth-graders.

"I taught just about everything reading, writing, math, social studies and a little science," said Shank, who grew up in Arnold. She enjoyed being in charge of the classroom.

"I think the overall atmosphere [in New Zealand] is conducive to learning, since they really teach everything in a relevant way, as it applies to real-life situations. For example, math is taught with things kids are in contact with every day."

It's winter in New Zealand, but school there is year-round with a series of breaks, the longest being six weeks. The climate she encountered is subtropical, the landscape dotted with palm, lemon and orange trees.

"It reminded me of Florida," said the young teacher. "It can get cold, but it doesn't snow. The city also made me think of Seattle and San Francisco. It's very beautiful."

Despite the 20-hour trip each way, she liked the country and its friendly people so much that she's considering returning after graduation to live and teach in New Zealand.

More time to play

After 13 years as director of music and organist at Severna Park United Methodist Church, Marge Ingalls is packing up her sheet music and looking forward to fewer deadlines and more time with her grandchildren.

Before coming to the church, Ingalls taught music for 21 years in the county public schools. Her husband, David, also a musician, directs the Benfield Brass.

An Oberlin College graduate who majored in organ and minored in piano, Ingalls said she has mixed feelings about leaving her job as music director, but won't miss working all day and going back to church in the evenings for choir rehearsals.

It's not surprising that the church has had to hire two people to fill her shoes: organist Nicola Patterson, a former Baltimorean living in Annapolis who began her new job on July 11, and the new director of music, Brian Winter of Austin, Texas, who arrives Sept. 1 to lead the sanctuary, contemporary and handbell choirs.

Left at the third light

A new, detailed map of Greater Severna Park showing the locations of communities, police and fire stations, schools, medical facilities and recreational areas will be ready for distribution by mid-December.

The map, commissioned by the Greater Severna Park Chamber of Commerce, will feature ads from chamber members, and they'll be the ones with free copies for the rest of us.

Information: Linda Zahn, 410-647-3900.

Pub Date: 8/26/99

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