Grosvenor Teacher Fellow Program

I stumbled across this AMAZING opportunity in December. National Geographic has the Grosvenor Teacher Fellow program which allows teachers to board research vessels for 1 week to 1 month throughout the year. The Grosvenor Teacher Fellow (GTF) program is a professional development opportunity made possible by a partnership between National Geographic Education and Lindblad Expeditions. The program is named in honor of Gilbert M. Grosvenor (pronounced GROHV-nur), Chairman Emeritus National Geographic Society and Education Foundation Board. This opportunity is designed to give current K-12 classroom teachers and informal educators from the 50 U.S. states, Canada, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico the opportunity to extend Grosvenor’s legacy of excellence in geographic education. Through the program, exemplary educators are recognized for their commitment to geographic education and are given the opportunity to be actively engaged in finding new ways to bring geographic awareness to their classrooms or informal learning environments through a field-based experience.

The application consisted of 4 simple, yet pertinent questions. With so much of my focus of education being on global perspectives and awareness, I thought these questions were great for personal and professional reflection.

I should find out this month whether I am selected as a finalist for this professional development opportunity. I have had the pleasure of setting foot on 6 of the 7 continents, all but Antarctica, and this opportunity could help me tick that off my bucket list 🙂

Fingers crossed for me!

Q1: Please describe the best tangible example of a lesson, project, or program you have implemented into your classroom or teaching environment that helps support geo literacy.

Upon reading this prompt, the first lesson that came to my mind was my extensive unit on Ebola and the current outbreak in Western Africa. The unit started with an introduction to the virus and the history of the smaller, periodic outbreaks throughout the region of western (an occasionally central) Africa. The unit closed with a project-based learning (PBL) tool that asked the students to either: design a cell-based sensor that will aid the medical professionals with a tool for early detection of infection, that can be used in the field, or, they needed to design a tool to address the misconceptions of the citizens of western Africa in regards to Ebola. Both of these projects required the students to dive into the specifics of western Africa including the countries most affected and the cultures and traditions of the peoples that make up those countries. For instance, one of the ways the virus was rapidly spread was through the preparation of the body for the burial process, specifically the act of washing the bodies down. My students were empathetic to the process and suggested a modification of using bleach water for the cleansing to allow the family members to grieve and prepare as they see fit but to stop the spread in the process. Both of these projects were valuable tools for the exposure of different people and cultures for my students.

Q2: What role do you plan in preparing students to be better global citizens and environmental stewards of the planet?

In my classroom, I make a point of connecting the content being studied to real world applicability so that the students can see why the content is important. When we are studying cellular respiration and photosynthesis we talk about deforestation in S. America; when we discuss anthropogenic greenhouse gases and ozone depletion we use Australia as a case study, when we discuss pathogens like Malaria we can talk about the “Malaria Belt” that sweeps through regions of Africa and the Middle East; when we discuss the evolution of the lactase non-persistence gene in humans, we talk about the domestication of animals in Africa and Europe 10,000 years ago. I also have my students present a “Hot Topic” each week that covers a pertinent topic in science affecting an area on our globe. Collegiate also has a strong global citizenship component and we offer numerous global experiences for our students as well as hosts a dynamic international conference, the Emerging Leaders Conference, each year which involves students from over 12 different countries. That experience is very valuable to our students and supports our goal to instill a global perspective in our students to help them become thoughtful and engaged world citizens. It is my pleasure to be intimately involved in these aspects of global education at Collegiate.

Q3: Please describe how, if selected, you would share this experience with your students, peers, and local community.

This experience will directly affect my teaching and my content. This voyage will help me to improve my geographic content knowledge of different regions of the world via this firsthand experience and that will greatly influence my teaching and my ability to provide “real world” experiences for my students, first hand. I will host a discussion/presentation at an all school assembly to share my experiences with my student body, faculty colleagues, and administrative team. I would also like to host a presentation for the parents in our school community, K-12, to share these experiences with them. I would like to present this experience at the National Science Teachers Association as well as hold a community Q & A session at the University of Richmond. I think it would also be beneficial to write an editorial piece for our local school paper but also for the community at large through the Richmond Times Dispatch.

Q4: What motivated you to apply to the Grosvenor Teacher Fellow Program? What do you hope to gain from this experience?

Throughout my life, I have been a traveler. My first experience took me on a research expedition to Lake Baikal in Siberia when I was 18 and I have been traveling ever since. These moments, immersed in other cultures and learning other peoples’ traditions, have without a doubt helped formulate who I am today. I believe that experience ignites passion and passion ignites purpose. I know that my purpose in life is to work with young people and to help them find their own purpose. I believe that global experiences help to break the barrier between “us and them” and help us all to recognize that we are part of one human spirit. As the world becomes smaller through travel and technology, I believe that it is imperative that we prepare our students for the world with clear eyes, focused on a true global perspective. This journey will give me the space that I need to focus on my personal growth and reflection, as a human and as an educator. I will come back from this experience with the tools not only needed to enhance my curriculum within my classroom but to also continue to push my students to challenge their comfort levels and to seek experiences that help them to grow personally and professionally. This would be the absolute trip of a lifetime, as a science educator and as a member of the human spirit on this gorgeous planet that we call home. To be able to see and experience these places that are at the far reaches of this planet would be an absolute honor and a privilege. Thank you so much for considering me.

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