Top teachers get global perspective

Call it the evolution of the summer sabbatical for 23 globetrotting Hub teachers who just returned from Ghana, Vietnam and the Galapagos Islands.

City students will hear about it all beginning today as a new school year begins with tales of exotic adventures.

“The Galapagos is a mecca for biology people,” said Boston Arts Academy science teacher Joy Bautista, who spent the summer on the Galapagos.

Thanks to Fund For Teachers and Boston Plan For Excellence, Bautista and 23 other select public school teachers were provided with grants to travel across the globe.

“It’s important for science teachers to actually be scientists,” said Bautista, who spent five weeks nurturing tortoises and following the footsteps of evolution pioneer Charles Darwin.

McKinley South End Academy teacher David Russell traveled to Africa to teach English and social studies at St. George’s Parochial School in Ghana. The veteran teacher proposed to “set a relationship between schools” not only through pictures but with pen-pals to erase misconceptions.

“It was inspiring to see how people keep hopeful and are determined in what, to us, appears to be daunting circumstances,” said Russell.

Anatomy and physiology teacher Doannie Tran of the O’Bryant School of Math & Science will tell of his journey to Vietnam to follow medical students fighting HIV.

“I want to give my kids the perspective of practicing medicine in the developing world with fewer resources,” said Tran.

Geography Teacher’s World Travels Provide Glimpses in Cultures for Students

Ed Mayberry
KUHF 88.7 FM – Houston Public Radio

A high school teacher at Thurgood Marshall high school in Missouri city spent time this summer in Brazil, studying fair trade coffee. This trip – and others like it – help her develop a curriculum that incorporates first-hand knowledge about the region.

World Geography teacher Lorelei Clark spent time studying how fair trade coffee comes to market after winning the trip to Brazil through a national competition.

“It was an essay-a pretty extensive essay. There were five components-you know, how am I going to use this in the classroom, why should they pick me? – And I submitted the essay and just was one of the lucky ones.”

Clark’s trip was sponsored by coffee roaster Café Bom Dia, as well as Sam’s Club and TransFair USA, an independent certifier of fair trade goods.

“I can’t afford to do this myself, so I get to go to these places and really learn about the culture and the people and see sights that I normally wouldn’t be able to see and then bring it back to my classroom, not only for my students but also for other teachers, so…”

Ed: “Are languages easy for you?”


This isn’t the first trip Clark has made overseas.

“I’ve been to Saudi Arabia with Aramco. I’ve been to, this summer, I went to Japan. There’s a great group in Houstno called Fund, F-U-N-D, for Teachers, and they provide a cash grant for you, for teachers to go wherever they want to go. So you just design the program and you submit it, and I went to China with that one.”

Karen Kovach-Webb is executive director of Fund for Teachers.

“We’ve sent math teachers to prove the Pythagorean theorem. We’ve sent math teachers to actually go and measure the curvature of the earth the way it was originally done. But we also send Shakespearean teachers to go study at the Globe. We send social studies teachers to go and study some of the social ills that affect the entire world like the holocaust, or go to Rwanda.”

Fund for Teachers was started by Apache chairman Raymond Plank to help underwrite summer trips for teachers to get first-hand glimpses into cultures and issues that they can bring back to the classroom.

“Raymond did have great teachers that he was inspired by, but I think his primary inspiration was his father who told him that he had to leave the world a better place. He started putting money aside everyyear to do something small for teachers because he knows that teachers can touch many more than one kid.”

Lorelei Clark says studying fair trade coffee gives her the rare opportunity to bring real world lessons on global issues into the classroom.

“You know, I’m, you know ‘Ms. Clark, she’s been everywhere!’ And I think my enthusiasm and excitement, and I have so many students that I really encourage them to study abroad. You know, they’ll go to university. I’m like, you know, ‘take that year and do some traveling, and we can figure out a way. If you can’t afford it, let’s find a way for you to go anyway.’”