Signal Mountain Middle High School will welcome 20 German exchange students from Hamm, Chattanooga's sister city, on Sunday, when the students arrive at the Chattanooga airport. The exchange students and their chaperones will be staying with Signal Mountain host families for three and a half weeks. The principal from the school in Germany, Andrea Behm-Brachmann, will be coming to Signal Mountain for the first time. Three of the principal’s four children have been exchange students through the German American Partnership Program. SMMHS has hosted students from the German school, Beisenkamp Gymnasium, for the past seven years.
The student exchange to Hamm, Germany is supported by GAPP and is a vital part of SMMHS's International Baccalaureate program, officials said.
“The IB curriculum focuses on international mindedness and this student exchange helps to develop this ability to understand and respect different cultures, especially in today’s world where our students are preparing for an increasingly global workforce,” said SMMHS German teacher Verena Draper.
The exchange students will have a variety of educational opportunities while they are in Chattanooga. The students will attend SMMHS with their host students for several days to experience an American high school and also practice communication skills with SMMHS students who are studying German. They will tour Signal Mountain, including a hiking trip to Mushroom Rock, McCoy Farm and the Town Center. The exchange students will also visit Nolan Elementary students to talk about German culture and life as a teenager in Germany.
Volkswagen Chattanooga will host a welcome reception for the exchange students and their host families on Tuesday, Oct. 2. Outdoor Chattanooga organized a bike tour of the Scenic City along the Riverwalk and an introduction to climbing at the historic Walnut Street Bridge. A walking tour of the Chattanooga Riverfront, including the Trail of Tears, and a visit to the Chattanooga mayor’s office, as well as the Tennessee Aquarium are also on the agenda. The exchange students will spend fall break with their host families.
After fall break, the exchange students will travel to Atlanta to tour CNN and visit the World of Coca Cola, and Nashville to visit the Country Music Hall of Fame and the State Capitol.
In cooperation with The Baylor School and its Global Scholars program, German students will spend a day on the Baylor campus and participate in the school’s Walkabout program. The German students head home on Thursday, Oct. 25.
“As an IB school, our focus is always on being open to new ideas and experiences, so I am excited to have the opportunity to interact with our German students and their principal during their visit, said SMMHS Principal Dr. Shane Harwood. “In particular, I look forward to learning more about their educational culture and consider their perspectives as we continue to build upon our school culture here at SMMHS.”
At the end of the school year in May of 2019, 20 SMMHS students will travel to Hamm for three and a half weeks to stay with the students they hosted. SMMHS students will attend school with their host students at Beisenkamp Gymnasium and will travel around Germany to learn about its history and culture.