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Educating in Estonia

Student teaching is considered the “culminating field experience” for education majors at Ohio Northern University. One ambitious student has chosen to add to the already-challenging experience of student teaching by doing it on the other side of the globe. Virginia Harrod, a senior music education major from Fairfax, Va., will travel to Northern Europe this fall to complete her teaching requirements in Tallinn, Estonia.

Harrod first visited Estonia in 2008, while on a spring break tour with the University Singers. While there, she developed a love for the culture, which is deeply rooted in music. In the early 1990s, a Singing Revolution helped to liberate the country from Soviet rule and the culture continues to enthusiastically celebrate folk and choral music. Harrod is excited by her choice of country. “Where better to go than a place that supports and loves music?” she said.

Estonia is a small country with a population of only 1.34 million, which is less than the population of people living in the metropolitan area of Columbus, Ohio. Despite its tiny size, the country is very independent and relies strongly on its heritage and traditions.

For three months, Harrod will live with an Estonian family and integrate herself within the International School System. She plans to teach general music, children’s choir and a hand bell choir to children from first to twelfth grade. Most kids in the International School System are the children of diplomats, so she will communicate in English, much to her relief.

Harrod will be the first ONU student to teach in Estonia. Nils Riess, the chair of the Department of Communication Arts, was instrumental in developing a relationship between ONU and Estonia.

The experiences Harrod will gather in Estonia are sure to enrich her life, but she is going there to teach because she knows it will make her a better educator. “I’m just really excited for a different routine and to expand my musical boundaries to help me be a better teacher and person,” she said.

The cold Baltic Sea climate might be a shock for many, but Harrod is ready to face it. “I’ve been told to pack a pair of fur-lined rain boots. And, of course, I already have a pair. Ada prepared me well for that!” she said.

Jamienne Scott
Communication Arts and Spanish major