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Ice broken with Portuguese, steel drums

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Posted: Sunday, May 24, 2009 12:00 pm | Updated: 8:12 am, Thu Aug 16, 2012.

By Todd Martin

Special to the Daily Herald

When four teachers from Brazil visited Shoemaker High School Thursday, a party broke out in the band hall.

The educators, who all teach English as a foreign language in the Brazilian state of Bahia, visited Harker Heights High School and Shoemaker High School in Killeen ISD as part of a four-week Texas tour with the Rotary Foundation.

The visit at Shoemaker began with a welcoming hug from two students hungry for the sound of Portuguese.

Ana Pawlina, a foreign exchange student from Brazil and freshman Leticia Costa, who moved with her family from Brazil to the United States two years ago, greeted the four guests at the door.

The first stop on the tour at Shoemaker was the band hall where the Pandemonium steel drum corps was set to give a concert.

Impressed with the tropical sounds, the yellow-shirted guests broke out in dance steps as they snapped digital photos.

Before long, SHS campus instructional specialist Rhonda Brown joined the dance and students in the band hall stepped in as well.

From the smooth sounds of the steel drums, the guests made their way to Advanced Placement calculus. Teacher Don Webster shared an algebra lesson.

As students worked diligently, Webster explained that the motivated group spent several Saturday sessions at school to prepare for the AP calculus test.

The visiting teachers, Edla Maria Sales Vieira, Leila Leite Oliveira, Nianza Souto Batista and Alexandre Tadeu Ribeiro, took part in a discussion with Shoemaker English teachers.

They also heard from students in the Advancement Via Individual Determination class and Junior ROTC. Their visit ended at the school's Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) Academy.

When asked if the Killeen schools were different from the ones in Brazil, Ribeiro looked at the walls of the hallway and said, "It's huge."

"We don't have this kind of facility," he said in reference to the large Killeen ISD high schools.

"Students here are lucky," he said. "Our students don't have two or three foreign languages, music, drumming," he said.

Students who are motivated to learn a foreign language typically find a private school where that is a specialty, he said.

"You have music, sports, everything," the Brazilian teacher said.

Shoemaker freshman Leticia Costa moved from Brazil with her family to New Hampshire and then to Texas. Her father is in the Army.

She said it was exciting for her and Pawlina to see people from their native land, as that is a rarity in Central Texas.

She spoke with some of the visiting teachers as they walked down the hallway. "She's asking about the rules here, about education, about what I like," Costa said.

The visiting teachers spent Friday at Fort Hood.

They'll spend this week in the Austin area before returning home.

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