Wheelock Strengthens Partnership in Turkey

February 10, 2013

Prof. Stephanie Cox Suarez addressing parents and students in TurkeyBahçeşehir University in Istanbul, Turkey recently hosted a series of lectures by Wheelock Associate Professor of Special Education Stephanie Cox Suarez as part of a growing partnership between the colleges.

Dr.  Suarez, a leading figure in special education, gave seminars to teachers, parents, and students to help raise awareness about special education-both for children with disabilities and also for children who are gifted and talented. Suarez gave presentations at Bahçeşehir University as well as at four private schools in Turkey operated by the chairman of Bahçeşehir University, in Izmir, Bursa, Edirne, and Beşiktaş.

During her seminars, Dr. Suarez engaged students in a discussion about their "gifts" and introduced the idea of multiple intelligences, which challenges the established wisdom that people are born with a uniform cognitive ability that can be easily measured by short-answer tests. From parents, she fielded questions about "motivating children to finish projects or just the opposite-helping children to not be such perfectionists and to end a project!"

Initial discussions between Wheelock and Bahçeşehir began in spring 2012 when Bahçeşehir officials approached Wheelock about a collaboration in connection with their launch of a new College of Education.

Prof. Stephanie Cox Suarez addressed parents and students in TurkeyThe first step in the partnership came in September 2012, when Dr. Özge Hacıfazlıoğlu, Vice Dean of the Faculty of Educational Sciences at Bahçeşehir, came to Wheelock as an International Visiting Scholar. While at Wheelock, she presented a public lecture on Turkey's new models for teacher education that closely connect higher education with preschool and primary school systems, and examined the creative and collaborative ways in which Bahçeşehir University is responding to educational challenges within Turkey.

While in Turkey, Dr. Suarez met with Bahçeşehir University administrators and faculty to refine and detail an agreed roadmap for further collaborations between the institutions, including faculty exchange, joint course delivery and exchange for students, and ultimately, work toward the goal of a dual degree program and other deep and long-term collaborative engagements in Early Childhood Education, Special Education, and other areas. For the next step, representatives from Bahçeşehir plan to attend and facilitate a panel discussion on Creating Communities of Practice" at Wheelock's Global Challenges and Opportunities Facing Children, Youth and Families international conference June 19-22, 2013.

Prof. Stephanie Cox Suarez visits a rehab center in TurkeyWhile in Turkey, Dr. Suarez was able to observe how special education services are provided to students. "The special education system is very different than our system here in the United States," she said. "Children are evaluated by the department of health and a report is prepared that includes educational goals. The children are then assigned to receive services (about two hours each week) in a one-to-one setting at a rehab center. Parents bring the child to the center, which feels more like a clinic than an educational setting."

In the photo at left, a young boy works with his teacher in a Turkish rehab center to identify numbers 0-9.

The Bahçeşehir University partnership is one of a growing number of international partnerships supported through Wheelock's Department of International Programs and Partnerships.  For almost 22 years, Wheelock has been delivering internationally-validated degree programs designed to develop competencies in early childhood, elementary, and middle school education in several contexts and at different times in Singapore, Bermuda, and The Bahamas.

Programs have expanded to include deep partnerships that allow for intercultural student and faculty experiences in such locations as Barbados, Singapore, Haiti, Belfast, Northern Ireland; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Benin and Ghana, West Africa.  Programs are designed to establish and maintain relationships, build capacity, and foster excellence.

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