International Sister Schools Meet in Des Moines

For many years, Stavropol, Russia and Des Moines have had a Sister City relationship. In 2011, the connection expanded as our Walnut Street School and Stravropl’s Gymnasium No. 24 became Sister Schools. Today, DMPS hosted visitors from Stravropol to discuss our differences and, more often, similarities in education.

Today, Superintendent Tom Ahart realized that education taking place a world away is actually very similar to education in Iowa.

Six delegates from Stavropol, Russia visited Des Moines Public Schools to learn about the district and had an informative discussion about education with the Superintendent and Walnut Street School’s Principal Craig Leager. The visit was supported by the Greater Des Moines Sister City Commission.

The Russian delegation included a school principal (Director of Gymnasium No. 24, sister school to Walnut Street School) and an English teacher.

Throughout the hour-long discussion, the group discovered that educators in Stavropol face many of the same issues as we do here in Des Moines. The delegates asked thoughtful questions — through an interpreter — and learned a lot about Iowa’s education system. Their main interests included the budget and how we decide what to spend money on, teacher salaries, school building maintenance, requirements for graduation, and the functionality of our preschool and kindergarten programs. The delegates also wondered why all 3-year-olds in Iowa don’t participate in preschool.

During their time here the visitors from Russia were amazed at the similarities between Iowa’s education system and their own.

The Sister City relationship between Des Moines and Stavropol officially began in the 1980s but has become more active in the past 4-5 years. Des Moines Public Schools and Walnut Street School entered into a formal Sister Schools relationship in 2011. Representatives from the district and city toured Stavropol in 2011 and also hosted a delegation of educators from Stavropol in Des Moines in 2012.

Other stops for the delegates throughout Des Moines this week include meeting with Governor Branstad at the State Capitol and visits to City Hall, Lil Scholars Preschool, Exile Brewing Company, Des Moines Social Club, United Way, and the State Historical Building. Their last stop will be to meet with Mayor Frank Cownie on Wednesday and participate in a ceremony to honor and renew the Sister City relationship between Des Moines and Stavropol.

The delegates have stayed with host families in the Des Moines metro area during their visit.

Published on