TISD Principals Win Fulbright Scholarship

Two Tyler elementary school principals are the winners of a prestigious award. The husband and wife team, Bruce and Angela Nelson, were two of the recipients of the Fulbright Scholarship. They'll travel to Argentina next year, as part of an exchange program with two Argentine principals. This week, the Argentine principals are in Tyler visiting the Nelsons' schools.

It is as much an exchange of gifts and souvenirs, as it is an exchange of cultures and symbols, representing educators from two different countries... learning from each other. Bruce Nelson is the principal of Orr Elementary School, and his wife, Angela, is the principal at Bonner Elementary -- both Fulbright scholarship winners.

Two principals from Argentina are staying with the couple for three weeks. Every day, they go to school with their American hosts. There, they learn about the similarities and differences between the two countries' school systems.

One thing Dr. Angela Nelson has learned is in Argentina, "they have more of an emphasis on math, and we have more on reading."

Niria Corradi, from the city of Cordoba, read a story in spanish to a bilingual 2nd grade class at Bonner. She told the students although her country is many miles south of Tyler, children in Argentina are afraid of the dark too.

At Orr Elementary, Silvia Corbalan brought letters from her students in Rio Cuarto, so the bilingual 5th graders can have pen pals.

Bruce Nelson said he's thrilled to have been chosen for the program: "It's another exposure to a different education system, and we're always looking for new ideas."

Back at home, after school, more ideas are exchanged about life and common ties.

"Even though they're principals in another country, they recognize right away when I bring a child to the office, the problems we have, you can tell they have the same kinds of things," said Bruce Nelson, as he sat side by side with his wife.

"I think probably we're a little more fortunate here because we get a little bit more government financial support than what they do, and we have a lot more materials in our classrooms," said Angela Nelson.

As Corradi and Corbalan prepare an Argentine salad, the Nelsons watch and learn... just another way educators are educating each other.

The Nelsons will leave for Argentina in July. They'll stay in different cities, that are about as far apart as Tyler and Dallas. Every year, about 250 teachers and administrators nationwide win the Fulbright grant. The Nelsons follow in the footsteps of some well-known alumni, including former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali and actor John Lithgow.

Julie Tam, reporting.