Teacher Exchange

          Ridgefield Public Schools                  Danbury Public Schools

        New Milford Public Schools              Monroe Public Schools

2022 - Program - Being the club centennial year, the committee decided on having a Zoom Meeting that brought together the founder, the participating teachers and committee for the past 15 years  to reconnect and discuss the program way forward. This took place on March 5th. In addition, we had a Recognition Dinner Dance on May 6, featured a video of a the zoom meeting with Participating Teachers from March 5th,  Music by DJ Boutros, and food by Hanna's Restaurant. We thank all those who attended with special thanks to all the sponsors and the committee led by Farid Khouri. This video will be shared in the near future.

2021 - Program - Due to Covid-19 it was decided to cancel this year teacher's exchange program. Look forward to restarting it in 2022.

2020 - Program - Due to current instability in Lebanon, it was decided to cancel this year teacher's exchange program. Look forward to restarting it in 2021.

2019 Program:

The 2019 Program has come to an end. Thank you to the participating teachers and to all the supporters of the program. Look forward to next year's program.

Info Session was held on Wednesday 11/14 at 6pm at the Club in preparation for 2019 selection, and for those who may have interest for future consideration.

The 2019 Exchange Planning has begun. Nada Takla and Tammy Reifberg (center) From Roger's Park School will visit Lebanon April 10-20. They will be hosted by the International College (IC) in Lebanon and will visit both IC Campuses, and the Cadmouse College  in Tyre. In turn, Two teachers from IC,  Carl Rihan and Lina Mahmassani,   and 1 teacher from Cadmous College Darine Srour will be hosted by Danbury Schools and will visit in addition to Danbury, New Milford,  Monroe and Ridgefield Schools on April 21-27

The Club and the Ladies Auxiliary committee will welcome all participating teachers in this year's program, at a dinner that will be held in their honor on Tues. April 23rd at 6 pm. It is always a great event.

Tickets are $25/per person and special donations in support of the program are always welcome. We greatly appreciate all the support received for this cultural and educational program over the years.
You may reach out to any of the Committee members for tickets or the teachers:
Farid Khouri, Nidal Khoury, Theresa Hanna, Ghassan Najm, Jennifer George, Nada Takla and Tammy Reifberg, or by simply sending an email to LebanonClub@att.net.

see also the Club Face Book Page

Thomas Broderick (3rd from right) from Ridgefield Schools, David Krafick (4th from left) and Kori Krafick (3rd from Left) from Danbury schools  will be considered for future program participants. They plan on taking part such as possibility of hosting the visiting teachers for a day in their respective schools.

IC School Calendar Breaks: 
December 22-January 7             (Christmas)
February 13-17                           (Winter Break)
April 19-May 1                            (Easter)

Danbury Area Schools Breaks:
December 21-January 2             (Christmas)
February 18 & maybe 19 (NM)  (Winter Break)
April 15-April 19                         (Spring)

Participating teachers in 2019 program and the committee:

2018 Program:
This year Jennifer Andrea George from New Milford Elementary School traveled to Lebanon on Feb. 16 - 24th. and will be visiting with the IC and Cadmous schools.  In return, New Milford, Monroe and Danbury schools will host 2 teachers from the IC School of Lebanon  on April 2-6. They are Mrs. Celine Chebli Abou Rahhal, a music teacher and Mrs. Nivine Shmaitelly Itany,  a PE instructor.
Please mark your calendars for the Exchange Dinner on Tuesday April 3rd, during IC school teachers visit US. This event is in honor of the participating teachers and to share their experiences. 
For tickets. please reach out to any of the committee members – Farid Khouri (Chairman). Nidal Khoury, Theresa Hanna or  Ghassan Najm or by simply sending an email to LebanonClub@att.net.
see also the Club Face Book Page

LAC Committee send-off dinner for the US teacher (2nd from left) held on Feb. 5th

A special message from our 2018 visiting teachers at the end of their stay:
To Lebanon American Club in Danbury, Committee and Members, to all the people who attended the special dinner at LAC, to the people we met in 'Hill and plain, Monroe and Park avenue schools, to all the teachers, principals and students, And finally to our Lovely Friend Jennifer George Andrea who hosted us in her house for 7 days and showed us how much she cares, how much she is open minded, respectful and sweet! To Jennifer’s Family members and friends we met, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!
You made us feel AT HOME! We really appreciate every single effort each and everyone did to make us feel comfortable and happy! Without you, our experience would have never been the same! We wish you the best of luck in all what you do!
Till we meet again!
Nivine Shmaitelly Itany  and Celine Chebli Abou Rahhal!

2017 Program Planning:
In 2017, The Monroe Schools joined the Program by sending Mary Hajj, a music teacher, who will join Devin and Elise Samaha, Biology and English teachers respectively from the Danbury, Schools, on April 5th-12th o the IC school in Lebanon.   In return, New Milford, CT and North Salem NY, will join Monroe and Danbury schools in hosting 3 teachers from the IC school of Lebanon  April 17-21
Jana Bayoud: Arabic as a foreign language and the special Arabic Coordinator -- elementary school level. 
Layla Kateurji: Art teacher -- elementary school level.
Pedro Maalouf: Biology teacher -- secondary level

Accommodation were provided by Devin and Elise Samaha who also have been coordinating with the IC and our participating area schools on schedules, visa requirements and all aspect of the exchange visits. We would like to give special thanks to Kevin Haddad, the 2015 Program participant, for taking the initiative early on for coordinating with the IC  and our areas schools, especially identifying possible dates for this year's program and  for maintaining communications with the IC school that made it possible for the program to move forward this year.

The Club hosted a dinner in honor of all 2017 participating teachers on Thursday April 20th. For Tickets see members of the Club and Ladies Auxiliary committee, Nidal Khoury at St. George Church, Theresa Hanna at St. Ann Church and Ghassan Najm at St. Anthony Church, or you may reach out to Farid Khoury The Club Committee Chairman.

See a story that ran in the Newstimes about the program -

Please Note that in 2016, the program was cancelled.

History of the program:
The Lebanon American Club, along with the Ridgefield & Danbury Schools, have been sponsoring the Teacher Exchange for the past 11 years.

This is an educational and cultural exchange program that allows Lebanese and American teachers to reinforce their educational relationships.  The International College (IC) in Beirut is one of the oldest and largest international schools in the world,  The IC houses 3400 students from pre-K to secondary school. The following countries are part of this program: USA, UK, Germany, France, Greece, Jordan, Oman, Bangladesh, Azerbaijan Qatar, Turkey & Switzerland.

More about the program from The International College perspective can be found at this link.


How did the program begin with the US?
Beginning in the late 1990’s the former Assistant Superintendent Michael Hibbard of Ridgefield Schools began curriculum design work with the International College in BeirutLebanon which is under the wing of the American University at Beirut.  His work mirrored the curriculum development of the Ridgefield School System and he and the Curriculum Director of IC created the teacher exchange program between the two school systems in order to link our work and become partners in the educational process.

What were the goals of the exchange?
One of the major goals was for teachers to share their expertise in creating curriculum based on Dr. Hibbard’s model of the learning “spiral”.  Performance-based learning is a worthy challenge for both school systems.  A second goal was for teachers to experience the similarities and differences of each other’s culture and to share that experience with other teachers and students.  In addition to working directly with teachers in a particular discipline, our new Lebanese friends taught lessons in social studies that enlightened all of us as to what life is like in this very small country in the Middle East. For three years, our students exchanged pen pal letters with Lebanese children.

What have been the results?
In 2005, two Ridgefield teachers were sent to Lebanon for an exchange.  The experience of this exchange was transformational for both Margaret Murphy and Janie Larson, who are social studies teachers. While in Lebanon Margaret and Janie were able to observe many classes using performance based learning and were able to share the American culture with Lebanese teachers and students. They also had many opportunities to travel around Lebanon and see incredible historic sites.

Upon their return, slide shows were presented to the students and teachers at every grade level and a presentation was given to the Board of Education. In addition, Janie Larson shared her experience of the schools and the culture with the Rotary Club in AuburnMassachusetts.

Ridgefield has had the honor of working with the Lebanese American Club to finance and support this important exchange. The club continues to support the educational and cultural aspects of this program because it gives American schools a chance to see and experience the role that Lebanon plays in the Middle East.  Lebanon is a jewel in the middle of much conflict and wants to be known as a good country with good people. 

How does this exchange work?
The US Ridgefield or Danbury Areas teachers host the Lebanese teachers while they are here. We take care of all expenses while they are our guests. The same is true for US teachers while they visit the InternationalCollege. We are always appreciative of the donations of money, time, dinners, housing accommodations and other offerings made by DanburyRidgefieldNorth SalemNew York and New Milford school systems.  In addition, the members of the Lebanon-American Club have consistently supported the program with generous donations of money, time and the famous “dinner” at the Club to welcome our guests and meet them. This partnership between the Lebanon-American Club and the schools has been the source of this amazing exchange. We create our successful program together and believe in our vision to make our world a better place through communication and education.

We have hosted several teachers in every discipline of study in the past 10 years. While they are here, they attend and observe classes at the level of their choice. The guest teachers also make presentations in every school they visit. We also make sure that they visit our cultural sites such as: Keeler Tavern, Aldrich Museum, Broadway and other sites in NYC, the Norman Rockwell MuseumKent Falls and so on.

What is our shared vision?
It is the commitment of all of us involved in this exchange program that our work will help to produce “peace on Earth” in a world filled with conflict. We believe that education is the key to success.

US Teachers  participating in the program through 2018:
Ridgefield Schools:  Janie Larson, Margaret Murphy, Barbara Jennes, Rick Taylor, Josh Smith
Danbury Schools: Cindy Nejame; Michael Jowdy Burnett (went twice), Hala Hourani, Kevin Haddad, Devin and Elise Samaha
New Milford Schools (2018): Jennifer Andres George
Monroe Schools (2017): Mary Hajj

IC Teachers who participated in the program:
2003-2010  Rola Maalouf , Connie Hadba, Huda Diab, Nayla Hamadeh, Samia Boulad, Faten Mrad,
Jinane Masri, Nizar El-Mehtar, Nahla Jamaleddine,Walid Matta, Myriam Saadeh, Rola Sakr

2011-2019 Maha Shukayr, Carole Jabre, Mounira Yamout, Zeina Douba, Mayssa Barakat, Charbel Rizk, Mazen Fathallah, Jana Bayoud, Layla Hamasni, Pedro Maalouf, Nivine Shmaitelly, Celine Abou Rahhal, Lina Mahmassani, Carl Rihan

Kevin Haddad , a fourth grade teacher from Danbury, traveled to Lebanon on February 13-21,2015 on the first leg of the exchange. The teacher from the International College (IC) in Lebanon – Mr. Fathalla who is a Physical Ed Teacher, visited the schools in the Greater Danbury Area on April 2-13 to complete the 2nd leg of the exchange. A dinner in their honor was held at the Club on Thursday April 9th, and was attended by over 110 people, the most in program history.  

Mike, Zeina and Cindy, 2013 Teacher's Exchange Participants

In  2012 Cindy Nejame and Mike Burnett Jowdy (left) from Danbury HS  traveled to Lebanon between April 9 and April 18. Their Lebanese counterpart, Zeina Kaissy, from the International College (IC), visited the US between March 23 and March 31.
Cindy and Mike, along with Janie Larson, program rep. from Ridgefield HS, had a full itinerary planned for Zeina's visit.  In addition, the LAC committee chaired by Farid Khouri (faridkhouri@aol.com) planned a dinner at a local establishment to welcome her.  Upon the return from Lebanon  the Danbury HS teachers, Cindy and Mike attended an evening event in their honor at the Club, and shared their experiences.

Visiting teacher Zeina Kaissy shares the secrets of Middle Eastern Dance