Andrea Barela is a two-time Fellow who continues to give back to Fund for Teachers, this time as a member of our new Educator Advisory Council. In this role Andrea, with a small group of Fellows, helps guide emerging programming that provides continual resources beyond a teacher’s summer learning experience and lifts up their voice as a collective of trusted professionals who can lead their own professional growth and make the best decisions for students’ learning.
“As for why I agreed to the EAC, I LOVE everything about and for FFT,” said Andrea. “I feel like I get so much value and respect as an educator (especially an early childhood/elementary educator) from this organization. It’s such a privilege to interact with other like-minded educators around the country. Plus, it gets me out of my comfort zone to practice being an advocate for early childhood/elementary education.”
We caught up with her and asked about updates with her students:
The good news: Our school PTO was so inspired by our AGENTS (Always Always Getting Everyone Nicely Together Significantly) working to get a larger shade structure for our small playground that they teamed up with the SPARK Park program and Trees for Houston to add additional play structures and shade to the playground. So I (eventually/hopefully all AGENTS and the advisors) can volunteer with Trees for Houston when allowed to as well! The bad news: My district has suspended all after school clubs in elementary school until further notice. This means that no new AGENTS right now. 😑 Only alumni that are in 6th-10th grades.”
Andrea’s second fellowship was spent researching in Kenya how Wangari Maathai and her Green Belt Movement catalyzed environmentalism to inspire similar strategies as a framework for student leaders’ community action plans. Andrea designed this experience to add tree planting to the agenda of the AGENTS to provide students at an older, low socio-economic elementary school with time and space to nurture their ideas of leadership and ownership. Read about this fellowship here, her Ph.D. dissertation about this work at here and her fellowship researching peaceful activism below in honor of Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday next week…“What would Gandhi do?” This is the guiding question for a group of students at Lakeshore Elementary in Humble, TX. Their teacher, Andrea Barela, used her FFT grant to research Mohandas Gandhi’s style of peaceful activism at the Mani Bhavan Gandhi Sangrahalaya in Mumbai, India, and the National Gandhi Museum in New Delhi. Her goal was to facilitate students’ application of similar strategies as a framework for developing action plans within their community. Watch this video to see the result…