German exchange students received a warm "wilkommen" Monday in Conover.
Several students from the University of Applied Sciences Magdeburg-Stendal in Germany visited Conver School to learn about special-needs education in the United States.
The students are part of an exchange program with Lenoir-Rhyne University that allows college students to learn teaching and education techniques in international institutions.
"We want our teachers to understand that the issues teachers face are no different than the issues teachers face in other parts of the world," said Duane H. Kirkman, director of LRU's Office for International Education.
LRU students traveled to Germany in May, and now students from Germany are traveling to Catawba County. The German students are part of their university's Applied Childhood Studies program. After graduation, they can work in various fields, including social work, education, public health or sociology.
Students arrived at Conover School, which educates children with mental and physical developmental delays, Monday morning for a tour of the facilities with Principal Betsy Rosenbalm, Newton-Conover City Schools Superintendent Dr. Barry Redmond and other school officials.
For German student Daniela Seim, 22, the best part of the visit was seeing all that German and American schools have in common.
"Everybody works together," Seim said. "You have not only the teachers, but you have all the assistants. They work together so well. You can help the children when you work together."
Students visited each of the school's 16 classrooms for students ages 3-22. Some of the German students had never visited a special-needs school before.
"You can really feel the love teachers have for their students here," said 21-year-old Janine Kroog.
Teachers explained the unique adaptations they make every day in the classroom to accommodate the needs of their students. The German students spoke English, and only occasionally did they stop and ask Conover School officials for clarification about American slang or another infrequently used word.
Students enjoyed an American lunch of Chick-fil-A while Rosenbalm gave a presentation about the school's mission statement, goals and student body.
Signs and poster boards covered in German writing were displayed throughout the school as a welcome for the German visitors. Some classrooms prepared cards, goodie bags, baked goods or other treats for the students.
"We're very excited to have (the exchange students) here," Rosenbalm said. "And the students are very excited, too."
After lunch, students broke into groups to more closely study Conover School's teachers in the classroom environment.
"It's very good for us to see the school," said 21-year-old Sabine Rindl. "I was so impressed. There were so many teachers for special education."
The German university students arrived last weekend in Catawba County and will tour the area for nine days. They will also visit other learning institutions, like day cares and other schools, during their stay in the county.