Leoneda Inge – Berlin to Brussels 2014

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NC Teachers in Berlin!

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It almost felt like home when I walked through the glass revolving doors of the Berlin Intercontinental Hotel Monday. I did not want to make assumptions as my eyes traveled the wide open lobby. Actually, I was listening more than I was looking – listening for English-speakers – listening for a heart-felt Southern drawl! It only took me a public radio 30 seconds to find them!

Amanda Pierce, a Math teacher in Johnston County, gets off the bus, headed to tour the Siemens educational training center in Berlin.

Amanda Pierce, a Math teacher in Johnston County, gets off the bus, headed to tour the Siemens educational training center in Berlin.


I was greeted by Darren Segool, lead teacher on this special trip to Germany. Segool and 30 other North Carolina K-12 “Global Teachers” are here thanks to UNC – “The Center for International Understanding.” Their itinerary looks amazing – an introduction to the German education model, site visit to the Mercedes Benz Museum and a guided tour of a small energy-efficient village in the black forest region. I joined them Tuesday, on the first leg of their adventure, to the “Siemens Technik Academie” in Berlin where hundreds of students are trained a year.

An instructor, and former student, gives NC Global Teachers a tour of Siemens Smart Grid Showroom.

An instructor, and former student, gives NC Global Teachers a tour of Siemens Smart Grid Showroom.


There are more than 1,300 students at this Siemens educational training center in Berlin, its largest training center in the world. Martin Stockmann is responsible for Education and Training in this part of Germany. He says about 40,000 students a year apply for their on-site Associates program. Only 2,500 are selected! After two years at Siemens, the students move on to complete the last two years at a university. Stockmann says about 85% of them end up working for Siemens.

Teacher Kelly Denny of Wake County talks with Student Tiago Vitoriano of Portugal.

Teacher Kelly Denny of Wake County talks with Student Tiago Vitoriano of Portugal.


Kelly Denny is a teacher at Fox Road IB Magnet Elementary School in Wake County. She had plenty of questions for Siemens guides and students. Denny says she was impressed by how much students focused on teamwork. “They were efficient, effective, communicated, and no doubt about it, that is what they were expected to do,” said Denny.

One stop on our Siemens visit was to the Smart Grid Showroom. Marjorie Light teaches at the Early College High School at North Carolina Central University (NCCU). “This is so incredible,” said Light. She also was impressed at how seriously team work is encouraged and demanded. “If one person fails, it causes failure down the line,” said Light. “It’s about team work and not individuality.”

"Girls Day" poster in the hallway of the 5th Floor Classrooms at Siemens Technik Academie in Berlin.

“Girls Day” poster in the hallway of the 5th Floor Classrooms at Siemens Technik Academie in Berlin.


North Carolina is grapling with ways to lower the unemployment rate of young people. And there is an emphasis on training students, earlier, for careers in advanced manufacturing. Siemens – a world leader in Energy Sector innovation and other integrated technologies – was recognized by President Barack Obama as a role model for its vocational training. There is a training program at the Siemens Energy Hub in Charlotte. But can the German model really be replicated in the US? How much does “culture” play a role?

I hope to answer some of the many questions raised about teaching and training our future workforce. Germans have a term they use to describe the flexible, integration of skills developed and ability to help the young perform – “Handlungskompetenz.” Say it real fast! Time to pack and head home!

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Author: leonedainge2014

Leoneda Inge is the Changing Economy Reporter at North Carolina Public Radio – WUNC. She has spent the past decade tracking job loss, gain and innovation in major North Carolina industries including Food and Agriculture, Tobacco, Furniture, Textiles and Biotechnology. Leoneda is honored to be the recipient of a prestigious Alfred I. duPont Award from Columbia University. She and a team of journalists won for the series – North Carolina Voices: Understanding Poverty. Leoneda has won several other first place awards – including three Gracie Awards from the Foundation of American Women in Radio and Television, four Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and numerous Associated Press (AP) Awards. Leoneda is a graduate of Florida A&M University (B.S) and Columbia University (M.S) where she was a Knight-Bagehot Journalism Fellow in Business and Economics. Leoneda has also been a Journalism fellow at the University of Michigan, The Institute for Justice and Journalism and the Foreign Press Center (Japan). Leoneda enjoys covering stories that link North Carolina to the global economy. Her work has been recently heard on National Public Radio (NPR) and WBUR’s “Here & Now.” When Leoneda is not reporting, she loves training future Journalists. She has served as a mentor for NPR’s Next Generation Radio project, and taught at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee and Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, NC.

One thought on “NC Teachers in Berlin!

  1. Ms Inge, I would really like to hear you address the connection between education and economic growth and how what you saw in Germany can be applied to North Carolina. I am personally very interested in this topic. I graduated from Kigali High School (Rwanda, East Africa) several years ago and I have had a hard time finding a good position in Durham

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