Vivian Rodriguez is a kindergarten teacher in Honduras. But unlike in the United States where it is common practice to send children to kindergarten, the concept is fairly new in the Central America country.

Vivian Rodriguez is a kindergarten teacher in Honduras. But unlike in the United States where it is common practice to send children to kindergarten, the concept is fairly new in the Central America country.

“We have been fighting the government to improve education for the smaller children,” she said. “Kindergarten is new. Many of the programs are not even in the public school buildings, but in separate facilities. A lot of parents feel it is a waste of time.”

Nine teachers from Honduras toured Fairmount and Bryant elementary schools Tuesday as part of the Friends United Program. After spending two days in the Fort Osage School District last week, the teachers, who included kindergarten and third grade teachers along with a librarian, are spending this week touring and observing classes in several Independence schools. They will return home next week.

“This is the fourth year we have brought them here, so that we can give them the experience of seeing how teachers educate children in the United States,” said Charlotte Ruoff, president of Friends United. “We want them to implement some of what they see here in their own schools (in Honduras) to make them better teachers.”

Friends United was created in 1987 by three Independence School District teachers. The goal is to work with Honduran teachers by presenting workshops. In addition, Friends United has created several small libraries and resource rooms and donates supplies and textbooks to the schools on a regular basis. Other schools the teachers have or will be visiting are Fort Osage High School, Fire Prairie Middle School and Elm Grove and Indian Trails elementaries in the Fort Osage School District and Korte, Luff, Three Trails and Thomas Hart Benton elementaries in the Independence School District.

Ruoff said the visits allow teachers to learn new teaching strategies and techniques that they can take back with them. She said instruction also is given for teaching mathematics, reading and science.

Unlike in the U.S., many children in Honduras do not complete the sixth grade. In addition, 13 percent of children do not even have a school to go to.

“These ideas are very beneficial to them,” she said. “They are interested in the experience and are very enthusiastic about what they are learning. Many have said how grateful they are to have this kind of opportunity.”

Thania Valladares, a librarian at Policarpo Bonilla School in Honduras, said she has gathered several ideas she would like to implement, especially when it comes to classroom behavior and discipline.

“I like how the teachers here encourage the children and train them to do things such as walking quietly in the hallways and treating each other nice,” she said through an interpreter. “The teachers keep the children motivated and on task. Those are important things to teach. We have seen the good education in the U.S., and we want that for our country, too.”