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Visiting Teachers Bring Students The World

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GARNER — North Carolina is facing a major teacher shortage. The state will need 24,000 teachers by 2003. In Wake County alone, 5,000 teachers will be needed.

One group is addressing the teacher shortage by going out of the country for help.

Language has never been a barrier for Anne Kosfeld. The German citizen teaches Spanish in an American school.

"I love meeting people and learning about other cultures. So I didn't think a lot about it and I just came," she says of her move to Wake County.

Kosfeld has been on North Garner Middle School's payroll for the past two years. Her situation is becoming more common thanks to a program called Visiting International Faculty, VIF.

"The teachers themselves have been very successful in the classroom, but they've also brought an added dimension to the classroom that is unusual and different and very positive for the school system," says David Young of VIF.

Young started bringing foreign teachers to the United States in 1987 to help address a major teacher shortage.

At that time, Young placed 12 teachers from three countries in schools throughout North Carolina. This year, the group has placed 1,300 teachers from 39 countries in schools in six states.

Kosfeld says she not only teaches students about her culture, she says every day is a learning experience for her.

International teachers must have teaching experience, speak English and have an equivalent to a bachelors degree. They are limited to three years in the United States.

North Carolina's schools are VIFs largest client. This year 750 international teachers were placed across the state.

Organizers say the cost to a school district is about the same as an average teachers salary.


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