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Teacher Bridges Cultures with World View
Teacher Bridges Cultures with World View
Posted on 07/10/2020
A collage showing Ms. Zamarra and some of her students.By Tim Reaves
BCS Communications Department

Globally-minded teachers at Buncombe County Schools use their travels and experiences to broaden horizons for their students.

North Buncombe Middle School English language arts and social studies teacher Katharine Zamarra helped her students connect traditional Chinese and Appalachian folk music using lessons learned from the UNC World View Global Music Fellows Program. The interdisciplinary professional learning fellowship invited a select group of teachers from across the state to create lesson plans for a Smithsonian-produced album featuring the musical collaboration between Abigail Washburn, an American banjo layer, and Wu Fei, a Chinese guzheng player.

Ms. Zamarra’s project, called “Leaving Home: Journeys across America and China,” uses two songs from the album as a to create lessons about Chinese and Appalachian folk music, explorations of women’s rights, and the role of meter in musical writing.

“I was especially excited about participating, as I lived in China for five years and already enjoy sharing my stories and experiences with Chinese culture and language with my students,” Ms. Zamarra said. “The program allowed me to reflect on and deepen my teaching practice, collaborate with and learn from dedicated teachers across the state, and create a set of lesson plans that introduce students to the power of music and cross-cultural friendships while also diving deep into the social studies standards.”

Ms. Zamarra uses her lessons to create a bridge between sixth grade at North Windy Ridge Intermediate, where excellent teachers introduce students to the Silk Road, she said.

“I first ask students to reflect on what they know about the Silk Road and how it facilitated the movement of goods, ideas, and culture,” she said. “Then I guide them into thinking about how musical collaborations in the 21st century also facilitate the exchange of ideas and cultures. I feel that sharing my stories and knowledge of other languages and cultures helps kids view China as a country full of individuals, as opposed to just a spot on the map. So it’s especially exciting for me to be able to share these lesson plans, which are all about two female musicians making connections between their countries and cultures through music.”

The Buncombe County Board of Education recognized Ms. Zamarra and Ms. Lee Ann Smith, of Glen Arden Elementary School, for their World View contributions at the March 11 meeting.

Buncombe County Schools is in the process of reviewing its website to ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Buncombe County Schools does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs or activities and is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and federal regulations to not discriminate in such a manner. This requirement extends to admission and employment. Inquiries about the application of Title IX and its implementing federal regulations may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator and/or the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The Title IX Coordinator's contact information is: Shanon Martin,, 828-255-5918, 175 Bingham Road, Asheville, NC 28806.

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