LAKE TWP.  Lake Local Schools Facility Project Manager John McAllister said the district has hosted more than 20 tours of the new facilities since the beginning of the school year. On Dec. 4, one visitor traveled from a private school in South America to see the facilities and talk with students, teachers and administrators.

Priscilla Ruiz de Vergara is the superintendent for the Altamira International School, a private, college prep, English immersion school for grades Pre-K through 12 in Barranquilla, Colombia. The school is accredited by the Colombian Ministry of Education and is an invitational member of the Tri-Association of Schools of Central America, Colombia-Caribbean and Mexico.

McAllister said he asked de Vergara as many questions about her school as she asked him about Lake Local.

“The story about her school was interesting to hear about because her husband sold his ranch and they used the money to open the school which began as a preschool and eventually became a K-12,” McAllister said.

The tour included visiting classroom areas and areas of the southern expansion of Lake Middle High School and Lake Elementary School. McAllister said the purpose of the visit was to gather data to help her prepare her school to successfully complete its next re-accreditation process in the spring.

“She was interested in our one-to-one technology and how we rolled that out. She was also interested in the furniture, the flexible learning and open spaces, the ability to reconfigure areas for different activities and the extended learning areas,” McAllister said. “She also liked the color schemes in the buildings and the size of the buildings. I think she was also impressed with our kids.”

Marcia Kish, a professional development consultant based in Powell, recommended that de Vergara visit Lake Local Schools to gather info and receive guidance on using 21st century technology. Kish has worked with both Lake Local educators and with de Vergara on professional development.

After visiting Lake, the Columbian educator, who began her career in education 26 years ago as a preschool teacher, was on her way to Atlanta to attend a Latin American Conference for Advanced Education. 

“She went to great lengths to come visit our school before going onto Atlanta for a conference," McAllister said. "She spent almost the entire day with us. She took time to speak with teachers, administrators and students while touring. She asked questions about the buildings, curriculum, teaching, learning, instructional practices and she was familiar with our educational standards."

McAllister said that school districts from all over Northeast Ohio have toured the facilities including officials from Chagrin Falls, Highland, Marlington, Ashland, Kiryland, Hudson and other places. He said some districts have toured multiple times. He said Leadership Stark has also toured.