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"Reach for the Sky"Fulbright Teacher Exchange with South Africa

The University of Montana - Western is in the second year of a Fulbright Teacher Exchange Grant from the United States Department of State. The Grant's purpose is to help South African primary teachers learn new teaching methods in math and science. To date our program has trained over 200 teachers in South Africa. Each year we have chosen twenty-five different teachers to attend a special four-week training at Western. This year's participants consist of nineteen Grade 5 teachers and five subject advisors. 

The summer program concentrates on preparing teachers to present their own workshops. The teachers are practicing hands-on methods for use in the classroom. Such as place value materials in math, experimenting in science, learning computer programs and using the Internet to research material. By the end of their time here, the South Africans will have developed their skills of presenting and adapting projects, computer use and exploration to their needs. 

In May 2001 the Principal Investigator, Dr. Walter P. Oldendorf visited the four provinces of South Africa that participated in the project extensively. Tlhatloga has been successful in a country struggling to overcome a century of discrimination in education. It has created "spots of excellence" in locations where teachers and students face incredible odds.

This Summer Institute's participants have a variety of experiences. In technology they learned how to build hovercrafts and bottle rockets among other things. UM-Western students partnered with the South Africans to build hot air balloons and then had an opportunity to fly them! The participants learned geology in Yellowstone Park and the Gravelly Range, environmental issues at Birch Creek and spent countless hoursin the classroom.


The Fulbright Exchange Program also focuses on building relationships between people. The participants in this program have reached out with appreciation and spirit and have touched the people of UM-Western, Dillon, and all those who have come in contact with them. We at Western are proud to be part of this program. 

As of June 2001, our current list of personnel includes:

  • Principal Investigator:

  • Dr. Walter Oldendorf, Principal Investigator
  • US Trainers: 

  • Mr. Cleo Sutton Construction Technology Instructor, Helena College of Technology, Helena, Montana
  • Dr. Otis Thompson; Mathematics Professor, UM-Western
  • Ms. Marvice Box; Staff Development Instructor, ITT Chicago, Illinois
  • Ms. Janet Thompson; retired Chair of Mathematics Dept., Butte High School, Butte, Montana

  • South African Coordinators:

  • Dr. Peter Glover, Former Director of The Primary Science Programme Centre
  • Dr. John Rogan, The Centre for Science Education University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
  • SA Trainers:

  • Sipho Dlamini
  • Daniel Krupanandan
  • Zakhele Mbokazi
  • Thanda Sibisi
  • 2001 Summer Institute Participants:

    Lydia Coombs, Shirley da Grass, Khosi Dube, Lukanyiso Fumba, Francios Jones, Tembisa Makaula, David Marais, Phumlani Masondo, Thenjiwe Msizi, Hlengiwe Mthethwa, Paul Ncwang, Sifiso Ndimande, Bryan Pieterse, Maureen Ramasike, Sello Rapule, Cindy Seapose, Mokgele Seobi, Clement Somagaca, Gcobs Tshambula, Nosipho Tunguntwana, Jenny Ulster, Julius Williams, Beddy Zembe, Thembisa Zibobo, Sbusiso Zulu

Special Programs

Honors Program

The Honors Program at UM-Western gives a limited number of students a chance to seek and find greater challenge in small thematic seminars. Honors Seminars are characterized by small class numbers, high student involvement, and are rich in reading, writing, and thought. They combine several traditional subjects such as literature, history, science, and economics. Recent seminar titles have included "Human Responses to Extreme Conditions", "Facing Up to Extinction" and "The Sixties; Drugs, Sex and Rock & Roll". 

The fifteen or fewer students in each seminar get to know each other well, engage in a service learning project, and present their work to one another and sometimes to other audiences as well. Seminars may be substituted for general education requirements. 

Students must apply and be accepted to the Honors Program in order to take Honors Seminars. Applications are available in the Dean of Arts & Sciences' office. 

For More information please click on the "Honors Program" link located on the left. 

The Multicultural Program

The Multicultural Program at Western is housed in the Education Division. Currently Dr. John A. Xanthopoulos is the Multicultural Coordinator. Dr. Xanthopoulos, a native of Athens Greece, has worked as a research assistant in the Office of the Secretary General of the United Nations and has taught in inner city and suburban public and private schools in New York and Florida. Dr. Xanthopoulos taught multicultural and global education at Florida Atlantic University from 1993 to 2001. 

UM-Western is currently working with the Salish, Kootenai Tribes and the Northern Cheyenne Tribes for placement of student teachers in a culturally diverse setting. Each student teacher who graduates from The University of Montana - Western is required to spend one of three required field experiences in a culturally diverse setting. 

The Multicultural Coordinator also functions as guest lecturer in education classes and assists UM-Western faculty with implementing culturally diverse material in their classrooms. Dr Xanthopoulos is also a member of Western's Multicultural Committee. Students who graduate as teachers from UM-Western will be well prepared to teach in a multicultural setting. 

The Center for Service Learning

The Service Learning program at UM-Western seeks to help faculty and students develop learning opportunities through service to the town and university communities. It is formally integrated into courses where individual instructors create class projects that relate to specific community needs. It may also operate with students providing service on an individual basis. Students are given the opportunity to reflect on their experience and share it with their peers. 

Opportunities are facilitated by the Center for Service Learning which is student run with faculty advisors. Current opportunities include the Americorps program, which assists student in paying for their college education, the Chancellor's College Corps, which provides service to the campus community, and a series of faculty courses funded by mini-grants, which work with community needs of all types. 

Students may get involved with service learning by contacting the Center for Service Learning on the Second Floor of the Industrial Technology Building or by calling 683-7916. 

Tech Prep

TECH PREP is a technical education program that helps prepare students for both employment and continuing education. Tech Prep creates the opportunity for students to earn advanced placement credit for high school classes that relate and lead to associate degrees or certification programs in technical career fields. ARTICULATION agreements from many Montana high schools help students earn credit toward a degree. You can save time and money for classes you have already taken in high school by transferring those credits. And, once you have obtained your Associate of Applied Science Degree (AAS), you may decide to continue your education in your chosen field. A Bachelor of Applied Science Degree (BAS) is available to you by transferring credits already earned to a four year institution. For more information, please visit the Southwest Montana Tech Prep Consortium

Reach for the Sky

The Reach for the Sky Project, centered at The University of Montana - Western, was one of five Rural Telecomputing Math and Science Projects funded by the Annenberg/CPB Math and Science Project and the US WEST Foundation. The Reach for the Sky Project focused on:
  • Developing online telecomputing Math and Science activities
  • Creating partnerships between teachers and the global community
  • Linking students to people and resources around the world
  • Providing teacher training through online classes, presentations, and peer collaboration
  • Creating and referencing Internet Math and Science resources
Click here to find out more about the Reach for the Sky project. 

Birch Creek Outdoor Education Center

The Birch Creek Outdoor Education Center is located 25 miles Northwest of Dillon in the heart of the East Pioneer Mountains. The Center has both modern and rustic facilities available for spring through fall workshops, seminars, and retreats. 

For more information, click on the Birch Creek Center button on the side bar at right.