Global Teacher Fellows Describe the Inspiration Behind the Application

Last Updated: April 28, 2012

This article appeared in the April 2012 Rural Policy Matters.

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The rural teachers who will be traveling to international destinations this summer as Rural Trust Global Fellows will without a doubt bring back engaging photos, artifacts, and other memorabilia. They will have made connections to worldwide places that will help them strengthen their students’ own connections to their communities by linking knowledge and experience. But well before those phases of the process, the Global Fellows undertook the important first step of creating a plan and framework for their travel that would be relevant to their students’ learning. Twenty-three rural educators were selected during the 2012 competitive application process for their innovative proposals, and RPM will be featuring them in this periodic series that showcases their projects, in their own words.

Nina Daye, a high school science teacher from Hillsborough, North Carolina, lived in Germany as a child and always hoped to return someday. This summer, she will travel to Germany as a Rural Trust Global Fellow to help her students make connections between the biomes and ecosystems of that country and their own. She says, “I am always trying to expand the vision of my students so that they see beyond our community and North Carolina. This fellowship is a way to gather more first-person experiences and virtual field trips for my students. I feel thrilled and honored to be able to help my students experience biomes and ecosystems we don't have here. I hope this experience helps them to understand the similarities and differences involved in solving environmental issues in different locations in the world.” The title of her fellowship project is, appropriately, “Over the Rivers and Through the Woods.”

Some of the Global Fellows will be working on cross-curricular projects. Karyn Neubauer, a visual arts teacher from Thetford, Vermont, is traveling in a team with Dana Brettell, a Spanish teacher also from Thetford, to Buenos Aires. About designing their fellowship in Argentina, Neubauer said, “I was inspired by the creative challenge of designing my own professional development experience and the thought of experiencing another culture to learn more about my discipline. It was exciting to plan this with a colleague who teaches Spanish; the destination came from a wish to work together, to combine art and world language in a unique way. Buenos Aires came naturally from our brainstorming sessions as soon as we identified that we wanted to focus on art and culture in the Americas, and South America in particular. Buenos Aires has a remarkable artistic history of public art, including mural and street art, that speaks about itself in a powerful way.”

Katie Hendrickson from Athens, Ohio, falls into a rare category of Global Fellows: she is a pre-algebra teacher. Her fellowship, “The Mathematics of Textile and Fashion Design,” will take her to Italy, France, and Belgium. “When I found out about the fellowship, I looked into the past fellows' projects and was surprised to see only a few math teachers. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to do some research into a particular industry, dig out the math, and create lessons that would be real, relevant, and interesting to my students,” she said. How did she choose her destination? “Because I'm studying the fashion industry, Paris and Milan were a must! I also wanted to talk to the smaller artisans, so I did a little research and found out about lace-making in Bruges and leather-making in Venice.”

Josan Perales is a Spanish teacher and Edward Dougherty is a  Language Arts teacher at Vista Grande High in Taos, New Mexico. They are going to Cuba to study the legacy of that country’s education policy. Josan said, “We are always looking for opportunities for growth as professional educators and life-long learners — qualities we strive to instill in our students. It seems like every time we learn of a new grant opportunity, an endless stream of ideas begins for how we can grow, what do our students need, and what can we bring back to them that will get them excited about learning through our visceral experiences. We had a thousand and one ideas for research and destinations. It so happens that the day the notification of intent to apply to the Rural Trust Global Teacher Fellowship we received news of a special opportunity for educators to travel to Cuba, which we immediately decided that would be our plan for the fellowship. We were quite anxious to hear if we got the award or not and upon learning, we ran around our school proclaiming we were on our way to Cuba and giving everyone high fives. Vista Grande is such a wonderful and supportive community. Everyone was excited — and jealous for us.”

Another unique Global Fellowship team is the husband-wife duo of Jose Galvan, a social studies teacher at Macomb Junior High in Macomb, Illinois, and Corinne Galvan, an agriculture teacher at West Prairie High School in Sciota, Illinois. The couple is heading to Great Britain. Corinne told us, “Since both my husband and I planned to apply for the Fellowship, we wanted to select a location that would reflect both our teaching disciplines — agriculture and history. After much discussion, we felt England would provide the perfect opportunity for us to explore our subjects and compare how English traditions led to innovations and developments in America.”

Corinne’s reaction to learning of her award is memorable. I "had been waiting for weeks to hear the news, but had gotten so busy with school activities that I was completely distracted. One afternoon, my husband sent me an email with three words: "Check your inbox!" I opened my email and was beside myself! I immediately went to my mother's classroom — she teaches in the same building as I do — and interrupted her 7th grade language arts class by dropping the letter on her desk. Once we celebrated, I called my husband and found out he was accepted as well. Not only were we excited for ourselves, but we were overjoyed at the thought of being able to complete our projects as a team.”

Sharmon Hagler is a character education teacher at Hollister RV Middle School in Hollister, Missouri. The Global Teacher Fellowship will enable her to participate in the Holocaust and Jewish Resistance Teacher's Program, which will take her to Washington, DC, Poland, Germany, and Israel. The program was initiated by Holocaust survivor Valdka Meed. When asked what guided her course of study, Sharmon said, “My dad, a member of the Greatest Generation, recently passed away at the age of 91. Pondering his stories of World War II, which I often share with my students, I realized that survivors of the Holocaust are also fading from history. Last summer after attending a Holocaust workshop at the United States Holocaust Museum I determined it is up to me, as an educator, to instill in today’s youth that such a horrific event must never occur again. Upon my return I will plan and implement a cross-curricular, linear, and age-appropriate Holocaust study program in Hollister Middle School. The Holocaust is more than concentration camps. It is the logical and methodical genocide of several groups of people in Europe.” Sharmon described herself as “humbled” by her awarded fellowship. “It has become my passion to encourage my students that it is their generation’s responsibility to guarantee a Holocaust never reoccurs and genocide must be eliminated. Although the journey will be extremely emotional, I am counting the days until I leave on this journey. I can’t wait!”

Read more:

Meredith Reddick, a Rural Trust Global Fellow and Spanish teacher at Kansas High School and Oakland High School in Illinois, was recently profiled by the Center for Midwestern Initiatives of the Rural School and Community Trust:

Read more from the April 2012 Rural Policy Matters.