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Stengforter Neigekeeten N°112 - Juillet 2023

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Portrait of Christian Kohnen, school president

EN

In this new edition of the Stengeforter Neigekeeten, it is the turn of the president of the school committee of the Steinfort Basic School (EF Steinfort), Christian Kohnen, also known as a cycle 4 teacher, to introduce himself. Some of you know him because you have had him as a teacher, others because your children have been in his class. But all the others will be wondering: who is Christian Kohnen and what is his role at EF Steinfort?

In Luxembourg, the State and the municipalities are responsible for basic schools and work together to provide basic education and care for more than 55,700 children, mainly between the ages of three and twelve years old. The 2009 and 2017 laws have radically changed the organisation of elementary schools. Since 2009, each school has a school committee whose members are elected by the school staff. The president of the school committee, elected for five years, ensures the smooth running of the school and oversees the relations with the municipality, the parents, the parents’ representatives, the Maison Relais, the regional directorate and the ministry.* (*Source: MEN.lu)

Christian Kohnen took his first steps as a teacher on 15 September 1997 in Steinfort with 23 pupils in the 5th grade (now cycle 4.1) at the school he himself attended as a child. A lot has changed since then. Until 2017, Christian was a class teacher in cycle 4 (grades 5 and 6). Over the years, the tasks and demands of the president have become more and more important and complex, so that at some point it became impossible to combine the two roles of class teacher and president together. This is already the third time in a row that Christian Kohnen has been elected as chairman of the school committee, and he now has a wealth of experience and a wide network of contacts with which to carry out this major role in our school.

Describe yourself in a few words

In fact, I'd rather ask my work colleagues, or maybe even my former pupils, to describe me.

I would say that I am well organised, that I am (mostly) patient and that I always try to stay calm. I think I have learnt to be diplomatic and to appreciate different opinions and points of view. It is important for me to approach tasks in a positive way, and to take the time to listen and look for solutions together.

Why did you choose the teaching profession?

My parents still say that I wanted to be a teacher even as a child. This is also largely due to the good teachers I had when I was at school in Steinfort. Conscientious teachers were a part of my childhood. It is and remains a wonderful profession, one that allows you to accompany children through an important part of their lives. Being a teacher is more than a job, it is certainly also a vocation. It is a very versatile job, a job that is in great demand and without dull moments.

Being a teacher means being motivated and enjoying to learn with children. It requires a lot of energy and also reflection. For one thing is certain, if the teacher is not happy and motivated, how can he/she inspire a class and its pupils? But the job also brings a lot of rewards, satisfaction and confirmation that all the effort has not been in vain. What always makes me happy is when I see former pupils again. When I see that they are doing well and making progress.

How has the teaching profession changed over time? What are the challenges today?

The teaching has evolved a lot in the last 20 years. I would even say that it has changed completely. In my first years as a teacher, there was a lot more calm in the school. We had more time to work and learn with the pupils in the school. Nowadays, the teacher is more than just a transmitter of knowledge. In this respect, the collaboration between the school and the Maison Relais has become increasingly important. Together we must ensure that formal and non-formal education complement each other.

The challenges today are much more complex today than at the beginning of my career. Just think of the complex language situation in our country. The heterogeneity of our pupils’ population is greater today than it was then. It is also a fact that many more children have problems today than 20 years ago. Children who have problems in their learning process or in their behaviour. I meet children who are not doing well. Their behaviour, which we experience as difficult at school, is an expression of suffering. These children are unbalanced and need our help.

How has the development of technology/computing changed the teaching profession? For the better? For the worse?

The development of technology and IT is rapid, also in schools. It certainly brings certain advantages in terms of communication and support for learning. Communication between teachers, and also with parents, has been facilitated by technological developments (just think of the difficult period of the pandemic, when we had to work with our pupils for weeks at a time in home schooling). As far as primary education is concerned, I personally believe that "less is more". We see situations all the time where new media leads to conflict or even bullying among children. New technologies also bring stress and anxiety to the school and beyond. We all need to learn that we cannot and should not always be available everywhere and that we do not always have to respond immediately to every message.

The school's role is not only to familiarise children with technology and computers, but also to educate them about the media, an education in which the various partners (parents - school - Maison Relais) work together.

What exactly is the function of the president of the school committee?

My task is indeed difficult to describe in a few words. My duties go “from to".

The School Act states: The president shall ensure the smooth running of the school.

The president is the spokesperson and representative of the school. He/she is the contact person for anyone who has a question about the school. It is important for me to maintain good communication within our school community. I am responsible for the internal communication of the school, but also for the external communication with our partners. With the municipality, mainly with the school service, the technical service, but also with the aldermanic college and the municipal council, the school commission, the Maison Relais, the parents and the parents' representatives, the swimming teachers, the primary education directorate of Mamer and also the ministry.

As president, I do not do these tasks alone, but with my committee. Our school committee is made up of 4 people. Together with Caroline Lang, Joëlle Muller and Linda Quaring we take care of the organisation of our school. Each of us has his or her own responsibilities within the committee.

The basic democratic and participatory principles are important to us. There are currently 59 people working with EF Steinfort. This means a lot of meetings, exchanges, projects and ideas to take up and develop.

My 3 colleagues on the committee each have a class. As president, I have an office in the school and during school hours I am busy with emails, reports and phone calls. I prepare our meetings, which are held outside school hours. I am also responsible for our “plan de développement de l’établissement scolaire” (PDS), managing the school budget and dealing with substitutes in our school. If a member of staff is absent from the school, I arrange for a replacement. I go to the town hall once or twice a week. The distances in Steinfort are short. The direct and personal contact with the people is also important to me. I appreciate the fact that I can call the mayor at any time and that we have an open exchange and good cooperation in the municipality of Steinfort.

We have no secretary or caretaker in the school. As president, I am in charge for administrative, logistical and organisational tasks.

Another point close to my heart is the supervision of students on work placements with us. The EF Steinfort is a partner school of uni.lu (University of Luxembourg). As a result of this commitment, every semester we welcome students who spend a few weeks with us as part of their bachelor's degree in Educational Sciences.

Integration in its various facets is currently an important issue for our municipality. For example, the inclusive playground was opened at the beginning of May, and all municipal publications are now published in several languages. What does inclusion look like at EF Steinfort?

We talk about inclusion at the school. We support children with special needs in our classes. Children who need specific support in their learning or who are challenging in their behaviour. In this context, I would like to emphasise that we insist that our pupils learn tolerance and acceptance of diversity.

In the school we have the support of 5 graduate educators from the ESEB (équipe de soutien des élèves à besoins éducatifs particuliers ou spécifiques - support team for pupils with special educational needs), who help the children on an hourly basis. The aim is to keep the children in their classrooms and learning together as much as possible. However, in order to get closer to this goal, most schools in our country need more ESEB hours to better meet the individual needs of these children. I think it would be better if the schools themselves had a multi-professional team. Specialists, such as psychologists, pedagogues, re-educators, social workers, educators, attached to the school, who could work directly with the children. More resources are therefore needed, also in order to strengthen the prevention aspect.

Education is an important factor in shaping the future of our young people. How should and can EF Steinfort develop in the coming years to support the academic success of its students?

The biggest challenge for EF Steinfort is our growing pupils’ population. We need to create additional classes for each cycle. Unfortunately, our current school infrastructure does not provide space for supplementary classes. In addition, some of the school infrastructure is outdated. As an example, I would like to mention that EF Steinfort is in dire need of an adequate and up-to-date library or media library in order to inspire our pupils to enjoy reading and to organise motivating reading activities. Another challenge for our school is that we have to work out a very complex school organisation every year, as we work on two school sites, in Steinfort and Kleinbettingen. We would like to have a central and modern school campus in Steinfort in order to promote closer cooperation and exchange between the teams and to offer all pupils the same opportunities.

What would you advise to your younger self for the future if you could?

What a fascinating question. I think it's always important to ask questions, to think about what's going well, what's not going so well. What can I improve, what can I do to improve my situation?

I would tell him that there is no point in worrying about things that we cannot change. It's just a waste of energy. I think that at the beginning of my career I was not as calm as I am now. I would say to him that it's not possible to make things right for everyone. I had to learn that too. You have to have a vision and accept that you can't convince everyone to follow it. It is important be transparent about your decisions and to be true to yourself.

School committee president Christian Kohnen in private

What three things would you take with you to a desert island?

My bike, my barbecue, my sunglasses

Would you prefer camomile tea or espresso?

Neither of them. I like coca-cola, if not a cappuccino

Beer or wine?

I prefer a good beer, especially in the summer

Book or Netflix?

The best way to unwind is to watch an exciting football match in the evening

School trip or at home in the garden?

I had the chance to go to Switzerland with my classes 10 times for a week. These trips were much more fun than sitting at home in my garden.

Heart or head?

Head

Keyboard or fountain pen?

Keyboard (although I always insist that my pupils write neatly)

Spring or autumn?

Autumn

Sweet or savoury?

Salt

Liichtmëssdag or Halloween?

Liichtmëssdag (especially if our cycle 1 comes to my office)

Walking or climbing park?

Walking (and preferably cycling)

***

DANIELLE, surnommée "Piquet", VINK-JUNG - rockeuse dans l'âme

FR

Infirmière psychiatrique de formation, Danielle est actuellement professeur de sciences au Lycée technique pour professions de santé (LTPS). Elle joue passionnément de la basse dans le groupe de métal gothique symphonique ShadoWhisperS et est également membre de l'asbl Shadows'Night. Sur le plan professionnel et privé, Danielle s'occupe de la santé mentale.

Danielle a fréquenté l'école à Steinfort, où ses deux parents enseignaient. Dans sa jeunesse, elle était passionnée de Formule 1. Lorsque son favori, Nelson Piquet, est devenu champion du monde en 1981, elle était aux anges ! Par la suite, ses camarades de classe ont commencé à l'appeler « Piquet ». Avoir le nom de son idole comme surnom était un grand honneur pour notre jeune fan. Le surnom « Piquet » l'accompagne encore aujourd'hui, même sur scène.

Le rock est sa passion

Dans sa jeunesse, Piquet a découvert le monde passionnant de la musique rock et s'est totalement immergée dans l'univers du métal. Dès le début, c’est la basse qui la fascinait, aucun autre instrument ne l’attirait autant. Loin de se douter que toutes les chansons qui l'ont fascinée pendant son adolescence ont été écrites et enregistrées par Bernard Edwards (bassiste !) et Nile Rodgers (guitariste) du groupe Chic, les deux initiateurs de la passion de Piquet. Grande fan de Cliff Burton (bassiste défunt de Metallica), de David Ellefson (ancien bassiste de Megadeth) ou de la bassiste Melissa auf der Maur (The Smashing Pumpkins), l'adolescente rêve de leur ressembler un jour et même de sortir son propre album...

Elle a pu améliorer son jeu de basse avec l'aide de son mari, Arjen Vink, qui joue de la basse dans divers groupes et projets, tels que Northern Big Band, Jungle Juice ou encore Why Not. Au fil des ans, notre bassiste a été active dans diverses formations, avant que le groupe de métal gothique symphonique ShadoWhisperS ne soit fondé en 2009. Les premières années, le groupe a répété à Steinfort, avant de déménager dans une salle de répétition dans un centre culturel (en partie pour éviter de déranger les voisin.ne.s avec leur musique bruyante). Ils ont sorti leur premier EP « A tincture of Gothic Fiction » en 2017. Le rêve de Piquet est devenu réalité, un projet difficile à gérer seul, nécessitant un esprit d'équipe et une capacité à passer outre les différences ! Notre Piquet a eu et a toujours la chance d'avoir ses membres du groupe qui travaillent ensemble pour atteindre le même objectif.

Ado, Piquet était mal vue, il n'était pas normal qu'une fille s’habille en rockeuse et joue de la basse. Aujourd'hui, heureusement, de plus en plus de femmes osent jouer des instruments de musique passionnants comme la batterie ou la basse. De nos jours, les femmes rejoignent souvent un groupe ou en créent un elles-mêmes. Lorsque Laurent Schleck (claviers) et Piquet ont créé ShadoWhisperS, la guitariste Sue Scarano était cofondatrice des groupes Elysian Gates et Next Deed. Sur le plan musical, les femmes ne se limitent pas au chant, comme c'était le cas dans le passé. Outre Piquet, il y a d'autres bonnes bassistes au Luxembourg, comme Nathalie Haas (Lost in Pain) ou Cathy Peiffer (Average). Les femmes s'intègrent très bien dans un groupe de rock ou de métal, comme Naomie Garofalo (guitariste de Deep Dive Culture). Une constatation qui réjouit Piquet.

En collaboration avec l'organiste classique Paul Kayser, ShadoWhisperS a mis sur pied le projet Metal & Pipes, qui combine la musique classique et la variété de l'orgue avec les riffs sombres et lourds du métal symphonique, projet impensable dans les années 80. Les morceaux de métal arrangés par le groupe et les pièces d'orgue classiques réinterprétées sont joués sur l’orgue dans l'église. Il ne vous reste plus qu'à attendre l'automne pour découvrir Metal & Pipes à l'église de Steinfort.

De l’uniforme de rocker (Piquet) à celle d'infirmière (Danielle)

Danielle s'est intéressée très tôt à la profession d’infirmière. En 1988, elle s'inscrit à l'école de l'état pour paramédicaux (aujourd'hui LTPS). À l'école, elle est une exotique : elle est la première de toute l'école à écouter du métal et à s'habiller en conséquence ! En plus, elle jouait de la basse dans un groupe de métal et se rendait régulièrement aux répétitions le soir. L'administration de l'école était plus que sceptique à ce sujet. L'élève a donc été évaluée pendant plusieurs semaines afin de s'assurer qu'elle était sérieuse au sujet de cette honorable profession et qu'elle travaillerait au service des patient.e.s. Danielle, alias Piquet, a pu prouver qu'elle pouvait interprêter les deux rôles à la fois et qu'elle pouvait facilement passer du rocker à l'uniforme d'infirmière pour exercer ses fonctions professionnelles. Piquet a ainsi ouvert la voie à une plus grande acceptation des musicien.ne.s et des fans de métal à l'école d'infirmières de l'époque, à la fin des années 80.

Danielle a travaillé au Centre Hospitalier Emile Mayrisch (CHEM) pendant 10 ans en tant qu'infirmière psychiatrique. Après un court séjour aux États-Unis, elle est revenue au Luxembourg. Elle s'est inscrite au LTPS en tant que Chargée d'éducation pour voir si cela lui convenait. Son parcours l'a ensuite conduite à Cologne, où elle a obtenu un diplôme de formation en soins infirmiers. Ses anciens professeurs ont souri lorsque Danielle a été engagée comme professeur au LTPS. Cette fois, il n'y avait plus de scepticisme, mais plutôt une certaine reconnaissance du fait qu'elle était acceptée telle qu'elle était, sans examen préalable !

Dans le cadre de ses fonctions au LTPS, Danielle est envoyée dans tout le pays pour dispenser des formations sur place. Elle est également membre de l'ALIPS (Association luxembourgeoise des infirmières et infirmiers psychiatriques), qui promeut la profession. Danielle a elle-même formé certain.e.s des jeunes membres. Pour elle, il est important que l'expérience de chacun.e serve à faire évoluer la profession et sa formation.

Agir pour la santé mentale des jeunes

Piquet est membre de l'asbl Shadow's Night, dont la mission est de soutenir et de promouvoir la musique rock et métal symphonique auprès des jeunes au Luxembourg. À cette fin, l’association organise régulièrement des concerts, des cours et autres ateliers. L’asbl vise également à promouvoir et à prévenir la santé mentale par le biais de projets musicaux et culturels.

Ainsi, c’est après la pandémie que le projet de médiabook Edgar Allan Poe a vu le jour, combinant illustrations, texte et musique. Les enseignants du secondaire peuvent utiliser ce livre média et le dossier pédagogique correspondant pour parler de la dépression en classe, leur permettant ainsi de rattraper éventuellement l'un.e ou l'autre élève aux idées noires avant qu'il ne soit trop tard.

Danielle alias Piquet est une personne très positive qui veut aider, que ce soit par son travail ou par sa passion pour la musique. On grandit et puis il faut devenir sérieux, plus ou moins... Mais il est important de ne pas abandonner tous ses rêves d'enfant et d'adolescent ! C'est ainsi que l'on peut se projeter dans l'avenir. Danielle n'a pas dérogé à la règle avec son rêve de sortir son propre album !

 

***

Korean martial arts with Taekwando Club Stengefort

EN

The "way of fists and feet" is how we can translate the word Taekwondo, a word made up of the three Chinese-Korean syllables tae, kwon and do. It is a sport that, since its origins in Korea in the 13th century, has been practised by people all over the world.

This passionate Asian martial art is also popular in our region. It helps to develop physical fitness, strength, coordination and concentration. It also provides mental and spiritual training, encouraging its members to cultivate discipline, perseverance and integrity, a sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.

Did you know that the municipality of Steinfort also has its own Taekwondo club, which has been running since 1990? We spoke to Norbert Welu, president of Taekwondo Luxembourg, 6th Dan and ENEPS instructor, about this popular martial art and the club.

What is the philosophy of Taekwondo in general?

TKD is based on the following 5 elements

Integrity - a consistent, goal-oriented approach to training

Respect - good manners and sportsmanship at all times

Courtesy - towards coaches and teammates

Perseverance - persevering with courage and patience to achieve a goal, even if it takes longer

Self-control - physical and mental self-control

What values and principles does this martial art aim to teach?

Self-control, a sense of justice and helpfulness.

Is it like karate, where you only use the martial art to defend yourself and not to attack?

In fact, taekwondo is only used for self-defence.

A look behind the scenes of the club: TKD Stengefort was founded in 1990. How did it all start and how has the club developed over the years?

In 1990, we were looking for a place to open a club after it didn't work out in Clemency. We then went to Steinfort through some members and were immediately accepted by the municipality.

How is the club structured and organised and who is it for?

We have a committee of 6 people and about 100 members.

We have a children's section, an adult section and a bodyfeeling section.

What are the challenges facing your club today?

Nowadays it's difficult to motivate people to be active in the club outside of training.

How does the club contribute to the community life of Steinfort?

Regular training sessions, participation in events and tournaments, Sportsdag, etc.

Does the club need more support? In what way?

All help is welcome, especially for the LuxOpen at the Coque. We're also looking for accredited coaches.

What events does the club attend and where can I see the club next?

We are present at most local events, such as Sportsdag in September. On a national level, the LuxOpen2023 (an international martial arts tournament with the G+ label awarded by the World Federation) took place in Coque on 10 and 11 June 2023 (organised by TKD Stengefort).

But we're also involved on an international level. With Isabelle Faber, we have a sportswoman who represented our country in Baku and Azerbaijan, as well as at the European Games (European Olympic Games) in Poland on 25 June 2023.

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