Belfry, Bosnia schools team up

February 4, 2019

GOODY, Ky. — Belfry and Bosnia are a world apart, but students in schools in both areas could soon be learning together.

Belfry High School’s Junior Army Reserve Officer Training Corps Department and the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics team are working to synchronize their studies with the Kiseljak Elementary School in Tuzla in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“This project addresses the academic goals of Belfry High School in the areas of science and mathematics, while also addressing the mission of JROTC in making students good citizens who are more aware of the world around them — who all share a love of teaching and understanding the benefit of exposing their students to other cultures,” said JROTC instructor and retired Army Col. Don Amburn.

The Bosnian school has more than 200 students, from first to ninth grade.

Amburn and Haridas Chandran, a STEM teacher at Belfry High School, used Skype to contact Edim Hajdarbegovic, a professor of mathematics and information science of the Kiseljak school in Bosnia.

“It is amazing that kids from worlds apart can interact,” he said. “We are excited about this project. Dr. Haridas does a great job with our students at Belfry.”

Amburn was an interpreter for the U.S. Army in 2000-01 and served with Hajdarbegovic as part of the U.S. effort in establishing peace and conducting reconstruction in Bosnia. Hajdarbegovic was recently recognized as one of the top 10 innovative teachers in Bosnia and is the only trained teacher in that country to teach STEM.

When Amburn discovered that Hajdarbegovic was a teacher, the global distance learning idea was born.

“Two schools — which are located in rural areas within two different corners of the world — will, through the use of technology, work together to increase their technical knowledge in both mathematics and science, while also personally reaching out to each other’s respective cultures in an effort to better understand the world around them,” Amburn said.

Since the Kiseljak school was on winter break until the end of January, there’s been no interaction between the students until February. Subsequent coordination meetings will include the head administrator at Kiseljak, Edina Demirovic, and Belfry High School Principal Mark Gannon and Acting Principal Rod Varney.