Thomson Middle School Special Education students can look for a little spice in their life in the 2006-07 school year. School Board members have approved contracts for two international teachers who will "add a little spice," according to Principal Claude Powell.
Mr. Powell said he is "extremely impressed" with the two teachers.
Adrian Bidulescu will teach special ed math. Mr. Bidulescu came to Aiken County from Bucharest, Romania in 2003. He came to work through Foreign Academic and Cultural Exchange Services, Inc. on a J visa. FACES recruits qualified educators from around the world to teach in South Carolina public schools.
Mr. Powell said Mr. Bidulescu graduated summa cum laude from Bucharest University, and has been teaching special education classes at North Augusta Middle School.
"I was extremely impressed with his knowledge of the education realm...and his sincerity in wanting what's best for children. He shows a lot of energy," Mr. Powell said. "I called his references and heard nothing but raving reviews about his works with children with disabilities."
The move to Georgia will be a "professional advancement," according to Mr. Bidulescu, because Georgia House Bill 1187 requires special education teachers, as well as regular education teachers, to be certified in one particular subject. Mr. Bidulescu said South Carolina education allows special ed teachers to teach in all subjects, and students are tested on a low grade level, compared to Georgia students who are tested on a regular level.
Mr. Bidulescu comes from a family of educators in Romania.
He said his father has been teaching math for 40 years, and his grandmother was a teacher also.
"She's 87-years-old... She's still giving a lot of input... Although the techniques and methods change a lot, the idea behind teaching remains the same, the skills that you need to... make the lessons interactive, and help the students score progress," he said.
He came to the United States because he was curious to learn about the education system and a new approach to educating special education children. He lives with his wife and their 7-month-old son.
The move to a different state with different legislative requirements will be as big of a change as moving from a different country, Mr. Bidulescu said, but he is not worried.
He said he has heard nothing but good things about McDuffie County.
"I'm excited. Like any new beginnings, it will be hard at first, I'm sure; but I'll make it. I'm sure of it," Mr. Bidulescu said.
He is in the process of having his visa changed from J to V-1, which will allow him to have lawfull permanent residence. Mr. Bidulescu said the visa process is "99 percent complete," and he anticipates no problems.
Mr. Powell said Mr. Bidulescu is fluent in speaking and reading five languages, has taught in 21st Century-type programs, enjoys volleyball, soccer and photography as hobbies, and has great computer skills.
"He'll bring a wide range of knowledge, as well as diversity, to our school," he said.
More diversity will come from language arts and social studies teacher Hain Etinge, who will also begin teaching special ed at the middle school in the fall. Ms. Etinge is from West Africa, but has been teaching in the United States since 1988.
After receiving a general diploma in Cameroon, West Africa, Ms. Etinge received a BA degree from Paine College, and additional degrees from Bowling Green State University, Georgia Southern and Lincoln Memorial University.
"She has been teaching in Savannah, and with her background in West Africa, she'll be bringing another realm of diversity, as well as knowledge, to our school," Mr. Powell said.