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Two topics drew a lot of interest, but have huge differences. The Elizabethtown Rotary Club heard about Cuba and Emereau: Bladen, a public charter school this month during their meetings in February.

Clark Valentiner spoke to the local club about Cuba after he visited the country from where his family originated. Valentiner explained the political and social life of the small socialist country.

A slideshow showcasing the beauty of the land and the culture experience found tucked in the Caribbean Sea was presented by Valentiner. Most of Cuba’s labor force is controlled and employed by the government and the literacy rate is in the high 90 percentile, according to Valentiner.

Fidel Castro resigned as President of Cuba after holding the position for 49 years. Fidel has since died. A photo of Fidel Castro’s resting place was shown to the group and the religion of the area was explained by Valentiner.

There was only one homeless person on the street to be seen during his recent visit. The government claims there are not large drug or homeless issues in the country, according to Valentiner.

The internet has just been brought to the country. However, the Cuban government owns and controls all broadcast media.

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The group discussed the differences between Cuba and America before closing the meeting.

This week, Polly Hancock, a 5th grade teacher at Emereau: Bladen gave a presentation at the Rotary meeting held at Cape Fear Vineyard & Winery.

“I’m here for children,” Hancock stated after she explained she supports all the options for education such as public, private and charter schools.

“We are trying to create citizens that will contribute to society,” Hancock said about Emereau: Bladen.

Hancock listed some of the differences found in the Emereau: Bladen’s curriculum programs. The differences she listed were:

*Core knowledge
*Daily Five
*Project Learning Tree

Hancock explained the school has an inquiry-based and brick math curriculum instead of a direct learning curriculum.

The differences, Hancock explained, are the traditional teaching method of direct learning. A lot of schools use direct learning which is where the teachers have scripts and the students are seated at desks to listen and interact. Emereau: Bladen uses the inquiry based techniques.

This method uses student participation by studying the subjects they are taught while in small groups, in class or working independently. Students are allowed to study in various ways. Hancock mentioned methods such as using swivel stools for seating. Students are allowed to learn the subjects in small groups or by themselves at their own pace allowing teachers more one on one time with students who need the extra attention. The brick math uses LEGO’s to teach math, Hancock added.

Hancock said the students listed ways Emereau:Bladen is different from traditional schools they wanted her to share with the group. The students listed the opportunities of unique learning styles, movement, morning walks, and freedom as positive differences they find at Emereau from other schools.

The group was reminded by Michael Leinwand about the upcoming golf tournament to raise funds for scholarships. The club also welcomed three new Rotarians. Dr. Amanda Lee, with Bladen Community College, Alan Wooten with Bladen Journal, and Robert West with West Insurance.

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