SUMMER IS A TIME TO UNWIND for students and teachers, but many of Boston’s 5,000 teachers will spend part of July and August taking courses, attending workshops, and planning for the coming school year.
Ninety-four lucky Boston teachers will travel and study this summer, thanks to grants from the Boston Plan for Excellence and its partners, the Boston Public Schools and Houston’s Fund For Teachers. The projects the winning teachers designed vary, from learning about the culture of Ghana to exploring the ecology of the Southwest. Whatever their destination, they will bring back experiences that deepen their own understanding, enrich their teaching, and benefit their students next September.
Leslie McGowan, Grade 2 Teacher, Farragut Elementary School Destination: Italy
Several times each year, teachers and students from the Farragut walk to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, just a few blocks away, where they study the artistic and cultural history of Boston and Europe.
This summer, Ms. McGowan and fellow teacher Barbara Casserly will do some walking of their own, to deepen their knowledge of the arts so they can help students make a stronger connection with the Gardner. Their project, “In the Footsteps of Isabella Stewart Gardner,” will take them to the cities and museums of Italy that inspired Mrs. Gardner to create her unique art collection and museum.
A Boston native, Ms. McGowan is especially excited about this trip because she has been going to the Gardner since she was a child. “It has always been very special to me,” she says. Her favorite spot is the East Cloister, which looks into the courtyard. “I really look forward to visiting the Palazzo Barbaro in Venice, which was the model for that courtyard,” she adds.
The teacher team will trace Mrs. Gardner’s travels through Venice, Florence, Rome and Naples. They will shoot videos, keep journals, make sketches, and collect artifacts – all of which will be used as primary source material for Farragut students and teachers.
“When a teacher has a passion for a subject, it is contagious to the students,” Ms. McGowan emphasizes. “At the Farragut, we have a passion for the Gardner, and we’ve found that using the museum as a resource helps get even hard-to-reach students interested in their learning.”
Alicia Carroll, Kindergarten Teacher, Young Achievers K-8 Destination: Kenya
In the 15th century, ambassadors from what is now East Africa took a giraffe to China on the ship of a Chinese Muslim explorer. Yes a giraffe.
This unusual fact, says Ms. Carroll, inspired her to develop a children’s book and curriculum unit, Malindi’s Story. She’s worked on the project with Lucy Montgomery, a teacher at New Boston Middle School, for two years. Berit Bowman, also from Young Achievers, just signed on.
This summer all three will travel to Kenya to see the setting first hand. They’ll learn how a giraffe might have been captured, shipped across the Indian Ocean, and cared for along the way; investigate the tools that African and Arab sailors used to guide them on their journey; and meet with scholars who study the connections between Africa and China and the influence of Islam in the time of the Silk Routes.
This is a complex topic, grants Ms. Carroll. “Focusing on the giraffe lets us take a big idea and translate it into a story that is exciting and interesting for young children.” In fact, when she first shared the story with her students, “they were so fascinated, they wanted to learn everything they could about giraffes,” she says.
The team has many goals for Malindi’s Story, including helping students understand that Africans and Asians, and their descendants, had a shared history for centuries before European influence.
Students aren’t the only ones who will benefit from this project. “Teachers have to be researchers and scholars,” she emphasizes. “Like students, we benefit from pursuing our intellectual passion. It keeps us vital.”
Ullsses Goncalves, History Teacher, Madison Park High School Destination: Cape Verde Islands
Although many Madison Park students are of Cape Verdean descent, their history books rarely mention those West African islands. Mr. Goncalves will soon begin to fill the gaps, when he travels to Cape Verde this summer to research its role as a center for the Portuguese slave trade.
What is now Cape Verde was uninhabited when the Portuguese settled there around 1460, says Mr. Goncalves, and the islands eventually became holding places for captives from Africa until they were traded to slave owners in the Americas and the Caribbean.
One of his prime destinations is Cidade Velha, an ancient city and fortress on Santiago Island. Its many ruins, which Cape Verdean officials are hoping to preserve, date back to the 17th century.
“I plan to meet with government officials,” says Mr. Goncalves, “and encourage them to move forward with the preservation.”
That’s important for two reasons, he argues: a restored Cidade Velha would not only illuminate the history of slavery but also dramatize changes and improvements in the Cape Verde islands over time.
“I also hope to share with them my perspective as a history teacher with students of Cape Verdean descent,” he adds.
Mr. Goncalves will meet also with Daniel Pereira, Cape Verdean historian and expert on slavery. Additionally, he’ll do research at the national library, shoot video, and gather artifacts to share with students this fall.
In short, he wants nothing less than “to make history come alive” for himself and all his students.
New York City, New York, May 28, 2003 – More than 20 American teachers will get to take summer sabbatical trips, thanks to a $100,000 donation from RBC Capital Markets to Fund for Teachers, a charitable organization that provides grants to teachers.
RBC Capital Markets and other corporations will be recognized at a presentation in New York City on May 19 for their contributions, which has allowed the Fund for Teachers to expand into other parts of the United States.
Raymond Plank, CEO of Houston-based Apache Corporation, an oil and gas company, started the fund to celebrate the hard work of teachers. Plank believes recognizing the value of a teacher’s personal potential helps inspire potential in students.
Fund for Teachers provides grants up to $5,000 to K-12 teachers for summer sabbatical travel to explore a personal or professional passion. In 2002, 150 teachers from Houston, Tulsa, Oakland, Minneapolis, St. Paul and Denver received grants to travel and gain experience and information to use in the classroom.
RBC Capital Market’s gift will therefore touch the lives of thousands of students who will benefit from their teacher’s new knowledge.
In order to qualify for a grant, teachers must propose a summer activity and explain how the activity will make them a better teacher. Applicants must also describe what new skills they will gain and how they will implement these skills in the classroom.
The Boston Plan for Excellence announced that it has awarded $249,733 in grants to 94 teachers in the Boston Public Schools for summer travel and study as part of its Fund For Teachers/Boston initiative.
Tara McDonough of Malden who teaches at the Winthrop Elementary School in Dorchester was awarded a grant to be trained in the Orton-Gillingham method at Massachusetts General Hospital to work better with students who have language learning disabilities.
More than 300 Boston Public Schools teachers applied for a grant, either as an individual or as a member of a teacher team, and grants awarded range from $1,200 to $7,500.
Fund For Teachers/Boston is affiliated with the national Fund For Teachers foundation, whose mission is to enrich the lives of schoolteachers and students by providing recognition and opportunities for renewal to outstanding educators.
The grants will fund projects that teachers have designed themselves. Twenty-two recipients won a grant for an individual project, while 72 recipients were funded for a project they designed as a teacher team. In all, the 94 grant recipients will visit a total of 24 foreign countries and at least 17 states this summer.
Technology Teacher Karen North has won a $3,300 Fund for Teachers Grant to attend the National AP Conference in Florida where she will be presenting her paper on “Supporting Girls in Computer Science by Programming with Graphics.” She will also be attending a LOGO Robotic Programming workshop in Colorado with the grant funds.
The HISD Foundation has awarded 60 HISD teachers more than $192,000 in grants from the Houston-based Fund for Teachers program. One of our tech teachers, Karen North is a recipient of this Fund for Teachers grant. The Fund for Teachers is a national nonprofit organization that bestows professional – and personal – development grants annually to teachers of grades kindergarten through 12 in Houston and other cities. Karen and other teachers were honored at an awards presentation and reception on Tuesday, April 6, at 4:00 p.m. in the Hattie Mae White Administration Building.
The initiatives approved by the Fund for Teachers include Spanish language and literature programs, university and museum science and math programs, marine biology workshops, computer and Advanced Placement conferences, a university reading and writing institute, and the study of early-child instruction strategies. The grants, which range in size from $1,296 to the maximum of $5,000, will fund summer enrichment projects that will improve the teachers’ knowledge and instructional skills and enhance their classroom teaching for years to come.
Mrs. North received a $3,300 grant to attend the National AP Conference held at Disney World in Florida. She will be presenting her paper on Supporting Girls in CS by Programming with Graphics. She also received funds to attend a Logo robotic programming workshop in Colorado. She plans to use this knowledge in the development of a small school focusing on programming www.witschool.org and in her Technology Systems class. Karen is developing a combination Algebra 1 / Tech Systems class to increase algebraic computation skills using programming. If you have any questions, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.