2012 Fellowships Announced

May 7, 2012
Fund for Teachers Awards $1.8M in Grants to Teachers Across the Country; Teachers Become Students Again This Summer

Hamilton County Teachers Receive Summer Fellowships

Their Students Will Reap the Benefits
Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Public Education Foundation (PEF) on Tuesday awarded fellowship grants totaling $96,630 to 27Hamilton County educators –– to pursue self-designed learning adventures this summer. The fellowships are made possible through a grant to PEF from the national nonprofit organization, Fund for Teachers.
The winning teachers responded to PEF’s invitation to propose their ideal professional development experience and explain how this would inspire authentic learning in their classrooms. Among the exciting and innovative proposals:

Lora Jenkins and Lonna Henriquez, Tyner Middle School Academy, will conduct biodiversity and conservation research in Costa Rica for a documentary and curriculum materials to be used in a school-wide unit.

Brian Fahey, Normal Park Museum Magnet School, will travel the Netherlands and France to explore how cultural, economic and political needs affected human/environmental interaction throughout history.

Katie Hawkins, Brown Middle School, and Rachel Price, Red Bank Middle School, will attend the Reading and Writing Summer Institute at Columbia University and meet with young adult author Lois Lowery to discuss the craft of writing for young adults.

Stacy Williams, East Brainerd Elementary School, and Rita Schubert, East Ridge Elementary School, will attend a creativity workshop in Barcelona and a brain-based workshop in Texas to acquire strategies to ignite creativity in students from poverty.

Susan Morrison, East Hamilton Middle/High School, will venture to Cambodia to meet survivors of the Khmer Rouge and discover the potential for grass roots activism in third world economies.

2012 Fund for Teachers Fellows in Chattanooga

These teachers and 19 others from Hamilton County will join 450 peers from around the country to whom Fund for Teachers awarded $1.8 million in teacher grants for 2012 summer exploration and learning. This is the first year that Hamilton County educators were eligible for these fellowships, made possible through PEF’s new partnership with Fund for Teachers.

“This has been a rewarding and rigorous process to select these 27 teachers from the 83 who applied. Almost all had compelling ideas and proposals,” said Dan Challener, PEF president. An independent Selection Committee of educators and community leaders made the final choice on the basis of the creativity of ideas, the thoroughness of research, and the passion expressed for teaching. “Returning from their fellowships, these teachers will deepen the knowledge of their students thanks to the insights and experiences they gained from these grants.”

Fund for Teachers enriches the personal and professional growth of teachers by recognizing and supporting them as they identify and pursue opportunities around the world that impact their practice, their students and their schools. For more information, visit fundforteachers.org and facebook.com/fundforteachers.

Public Education Foundation partners with Hamilton County Schools to help students succeed by offering professional training and coaching for teachers, principals and administrators; human and financial resources to promote research-based innovation; and research that promotes continuous achievement. Since 2000, PEF has helped to bring over $60 million in supplemental, philanthropic funding to the school system. For the full list of Fund for Teacher awards, please visit pefchattanooga.org/fundforteachers.

To view the original article, click here.

FFT Grant Leads to Student Service Projects

Original article appears on My Ballard, accessible here.

Local students fundraise for a community service trip to the Amazon

April 13th, 2012
By: Almeera Anwar

Most students have to wait until college to study abroad, if they do at all, but a handful of Ballard students are getting the opportunity to go to the Amazon in middle school.

The program started about six years ago when Todd Bohannon, a first grade teacher in Ballard, applied for Fund for Teachers grant that enables teachers to go and have experiences they otherwise would not. The goal of the grant is to help them become better teachers. Bohannon said it was kind of a fluke that of all the places he could take students, he decided on the Amazon. “I applied to the grant during a week of where we were just stuck in snow,” said Bohannon, “And a friend from work, who had previously received the grant, told me to just pick the place that was the craziest and most out there – and I picked the Amazon!”

This trip will be the fourth time Bohannon is taking kids to the Amazon. The group is comprised of about 10 – 15 students, all middle-school-aged, and usually one of two parents join the trip as chaperons. The majority of the recruitment for the trip has been through word of mouth from kids that Bohannon previously taught and their friends. “Every time I go it’s a new experience because I get to see it through their eyes,” said Bohannon, “It’s unlike anything that they have been to, so when they arrive, a part of them just lights up, a part that doesn’t anymore. You can see them just let go of our culture and experience nature.”

Bohannon said it’s always rejuvenating to get away, and it immediately puts things in perspective for him, saying “It makes you realize how small you really are and how our problems really are not that big.”

Jen Fallon’s son, Colin, is going on the trip for the first time this year. Colin, a 7th grader at Salmon Bay, heard about the opportunity from a friend’s brother who went in 2009. Fallon said it was all Colin’s motivation and something that he really wanted for himself. Fallon is excited for her son to go because she thinks it’s important for students, especially from America, to see how the rest of the world lives. She thinks her son is most excited about how different this trip will be from anything that he knows, and that he’ll get a lot of personal growth from it.

“My husband and I are not big travelers and we’re middle class individuals, so I certainly never could have taken him to the Amazing rainforest,” said Fallon. “So it’s great for him to get a chance to go with his school. When we were kids, opportunities like this were never an option!”

Each trip is a little bit different; this year the group will be spending longer in the jungle than ever before doing a much larger community service project. Bohannon thinks the students will get a lot more out of this because it will allow them to interact longer with the local community and to hear their stories.

The group is still fundraising for their trip this year and will be at the Ballard Sunday Markets in April and May, when they can, selling Equal Exchange coffee and chocolate.

FFT Fellow Weighs in on Teacher Evaluations

Fund for Teachers Fellow, Robert Jeffers, weighs in on publishing teacher evaluations in an article for Impatient Optimists, a publication of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Read Robert’s eloquent response, here.

On his 2008 Fellowship, Robert used film to explore and document urban gardens across the US and how schools and communities interact with these dynamic public green spaces. Read more about his fellowship experience, here. In addition to his 2008 Fellowship, Robert was awarded the 2009 Plank Fellowship Award and has been recognized for his work with film production and editing classes by20th Century Fox.

On the Trail of Lewis and Clark in Wisconsin

Field Notes, January 2012
by Jim Rosenberger

Since the bicentennial celebration we all have worried about a loss of interest in Lewis & Clark history, then something happens which shows the magic of the story of the Corps of Discovery is alive and well.

I received an email from Don Peterson at the Lewis and Clark Trial Heritage Foundation headquarters in Great Falls, MT telling me of a Mr. Paul Timm who had inquired about the signs which appear all along the Lewis and Clark Historic Trail. Mr. Timm lives in Friendship, Wisconsin and Don thought I might be interested in contacting him. I did email Mr. Timm and found something truly impressive was taking place in Wisconsin relative to Lewis and Clark.

Paul Timm is a physical education teacher in Grand Marsh, Wisconsin. He and fellow teacher, Ginny Fritz received a grant from Fund for Teachers because Grand Marsh Elementary was a Wisconsin School of Promise/Recognition for two consecutive years. This past summer, with the help of this grant, Paul and Ginny, along with their spouses, traveled the entire Lewis & Clark Trail by motorcycle. They traveled nearly 7,000 miles in 22 days, visiting many of the sites, interpretive centers and museums along their route. Like the Captains, Paul and Ginny had to improvise along the way, especially when they confronted Mother Nature in the form of the flooded Missouri River.

Lolo Pass: An unforgiving wilderness, then and now.

Upon their return Paul and Ginny started on a project to bring cross curricular activities to their students. “We wanted to incorporate physical education with history and science”. To accomplish this they blazed replica of the Lewis and Clark Trail through one of their school forests located just north of Grand Marsh Elementary School. The westbound trail is .75 miles, the Clark return trail is also about .75 miles and the Lewis route is about .8 miles. Signs will be placed along the trail to indicate where you are and what historical significance the location has. Community schools, businesses, teachers and students are working together to have the trail completed by spring.

The trail will be used for history, science and physical education classes. It will be mostly used for hiking, bicycling, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing. The trail will be open to the community and no fees will be charged. Since it is school property, it is considered public land and the hope is that the community will use it as much as the school. Paul and Ginny would like to see Grand Marsh use the trail for a yearly celebration similar to Westfield’s Rendezvous Days.

It is exciting, not only to see this enthusiasm and interest in Lewis and Clark history here in Wisconsin, but also to see the effort being put forth to utilize the story of the Corps of Discovery for the education of our students. Our Chapter has offered any assistance we can give to help accomplish this and Chapter members will be updated as progress is made.

You can read about their motorcycle trip on their blog, “Corp of Discovery, II“.

This article appears in number 41 of “Field Notes”, a newsletter created by the Badger State Chapter of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, Inc. The publication can be accessed here, in its entirety.

“Made in China” Means More to Cincinnati Teacher After FFT Fellowship

November 30, 2011 (HOUSTON) – The Chinese government censored his blog documenting communism’s impact on citizens. The government also blocked his entry into Tibet, where he hoped to learn more about the contrast between urban and rural daily life. But government constraints ended and authentic learning began when Harvey Lewis, III, returned to his classroom at Cincinnati’s School for Creative and Performing Arts equipped with first-hand experiences from his Fund for Teachers fellowship last June.

After teaching social studies for ten years, Lewis was dissatisfied with students’ “textbook version” of China. He wanted to provide lessons that furthered students’ understanding of, competitiveness against and, ultimately, cooperation with their Chinese counterparts. To do so, he needed to move beyond facts and figures to more authentic learning about China’s government and people. Seeking out and obtaining a $5,000 Fund for Teachers grant, Lewis spent the month of June exploring the economic and political climate in one of the most influential countries on the planet.

Lewis meeting a monk in Mongolia after being denied travel to Tibet; Stopping to visit with a local on his way to Hua Shan Mountain, one of five sacred Taoist mountains.

“My Fund for Teachers fellowship took me by planes, high speed trains, bicycles, boats, camels, and foot across Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, and Mongolia, but speaking with ordinary Chinese about their lives, challenges, and dreams proved to be the most rewarding experiences,” said Lewis. “My goal was to immerse myself in Chinese culture and history to then share the material I collected with students in my government and economics classes. It’s easy to label China as a homogeneous state with government-mandated uniformity. But my photographs, videos, and personal accounts from China are helping students develop a greater appreciation of China’s complex society.”

Lewis’ itinerary included observing schools, interviewing teachers, touring sites, and exploring the architecture and lifestyles of Shanghai’s increasingly affluent middle class. He also visited Yanan to see the headquarters of the Chinese Communist Party from 1936 to 1947, a major Communist pilgrimage destination. After his passport was rejected on the border of Tibet, Lewis cycled through Mongolia to experience the slower paced life characterized by rural farms and Buddhist monasteries.

In addition to daily sharing examples from his odyssey, Lewis also models life-long learning for his students. “Students appreciate the authenticity of first-hand accounts and have evidenced a desire to learn as much as they can from my fellowship,” said Lewis. “I also serve as an example to my students, demonstrating the exciting opportunities available to them by exploring and immersing themselves in another culture.”

Lewis is one of 10 Cincinnati teachers who used approximately $50,000 in Fund for Teachers grants to embark on self-designed learning odysseys last summer as scholars, researchers, and adventurers. Now in its second year of funding teacher grants in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area in collaboration with Strive Partnership, Fund for Teachers invites all eligible teachers to apply online for 2012 summer grants. The deadline for applications is January 27, 2012.

For more information, visit fundforteachers.org or “like” us on Facebook.

Following in the Footsteps of a World War II Veteran

Humble, TX, Teacher Retraces Namesake’s Steps – from Point of Engagement to Final Resting Place – to Make Soldiers’ Sacrifices Relevant for Students

(Houston) November 10, 2011 – On June 5, 1944, Silas DuFrene stood on the Cliffs of Dover facing his ultimate fate across the English Channel. Sixty-seven years later, his nephew and namesake stood in the same place, pondering his uncle’s sacrifice and preparing for a 15-day pilgrimage to help students at Eagle Springs Elementary tackle the question “Why do soldiers fight and serve?”

Armed with an $4,100 Fund for Teachers grant last June, Silas DuFrene retraced a World War II soldier’s journey–from his uncle’s engagement point in England to his final resting place in Epinal, France. DuFrene’s itinerary included London’s Imperial War Museum, soldiers’ barracks and the British Museum’s WWII archives. He followed his uncle’s journey to the beaches of Normandy, adding stops at the Hôtel Meruice, a Nazi command post during the occupation of Paris, and the Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation commemorating the memory of more than 200,000 people sent to concentration camps. Silas also left for Krakow, Poland, to experience Auschwitz. His tour ended where his uncle’s did, at the American Cemetery in Epinal, France.

“At the end of my fellowship, I understood why our soldiers go to war and fight. To protect the life of another is truly a high calling.”

“I wanted students to understand why soldiers, like my uncle, fought and died in this war. But helping young children visualize the people and events of World War II as real and relevant, rather than facts in a book, is daunting,” explained DuFrene. “On my fellowship, I visited key places and collected information to help students grasp our soldiers’ dedication to protecting those who are unable to protect themselves.”

“I can recall the moment I walked onto the D-Day beaches in Normandy. It was almost as if I could hear the chaos of that military invasion nearly 70 years ago,” said DuFrene. “I felt such a sense of such gratitude for the sacrifice those men displayed that day. As I walked around the memorial cemetery, I the true enormity of that sacrifice overwhelmed me. And after visiting Auschwitz at the end of my fellowship, I understood why our soldiers go to war and fight. To protect the life of another is truly a high calling.”

Teacher Gets His Hands on Subject

The Orleans Record
by Jim Fuller
Sports Writer

NEWPORT CITY — When Chris Shaffer accepted a position to teach science at North Country Union High School three years ago, he found himself having to learn a whole new ballgame.

A plastics engineer major at UMass-Lowell, Shaffer would be teaching earth science. He was also being groomed to take over the cross country running program at the school as long-time coach Lisa Grout was stepping down.

His passion for running and his desire to understand his subject matter led Shaffer on a journey that wound up among the glaciers, fjords and lava tubes of Iceland this summer.

Shaffer was in Boston to compete in the Boston Marathon in April 2010 when he was struck by the magnitude of the volcanic activity in Iceland. Eyjafjallajökull, pronounced “AY-uh-fyat-luh-YOE-kuutl-uh,” is a glacial volcano that began erupting in 2009. Beginning on April 14, 2010, the erupting began in earnest, halting air travel throughout Europe for six days.

With the marathon set for April 19, many would-be competitors from Europe never made it to Boston.

“It was basically creating a footprint in my mind,” Shaffer recalled. “What causes volcanoes? Earthquakes?”

Shaffer learned that Iceland was situated on a plate boundary — a boundary that separates the North American and Eurasian plates. Because of this, Iceland is in a constant state of “geologic happenings,” Shaffer said.

A glacier lagoon sits in the south of Iceland, along Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest glacier.

“I’ve never taken an earth science course,” he said. “Now I’m tasked with teaching students a subject I’m not 100 percent familiar with.

“It was hard to get excited about something I hadn’t put my hands on.”

Through Fund For Teachers, Shaffer applied for a grant that would allow him to study the happenings in Iceland first hand. “You have to correlate how you are going to bring it back into the classroom,” Shaffer said. “It’s an opportunity for the individual to create their own structured learning.”

By early April, he knew he had been selected and by the end of June, he was on his way to Keflavik, a city just west of Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital.

Shaffer and his wife, Sarah, have two children, Morgan, age 3, and Ryan, 5 months. He said he went alone as the timing wasn’t right for the family to make a vacation out of it.

Shaffer drove the 830-mile Ring Road, so named as it takes one around the country. As Iceland is barely south of the Arctic Circle, Shaffer had sunlight 24 hours a day.

“I never had to worry about trying to locate a place before dark,” he said. “I tried to keep my body on the correct time.”

Shaffer said he had no “real time limits.” He was on his own, without the need to meet others or make it to meetings. His days were filled with hiking and exploring.

Shaffer said he was struck by “how different the landscape was from place to place. It was drastically different every few kilometers — a lava field; then pasture land; then a fjord; rocky slopes; dormant volcanoes; pseudo volcanoes,” he said.

“I got to put my hands on this,” he said. “You get to be on a glacier and be around a lava tube. Being around a plate boundary — it’s not a clean cut. It’s like taking a sandwich and pulling it apart. This has definitely excited me for earth science. With geology, it’s hard to pass on the excitement and enthusiasm without having the experience. You can only get so far in the book. I actually took the stuff out of the books and put it in my hands.”

“From having lived in New England, it all seemed mythical almost,” he continued. “You don’t think of Iceland and say, ‘Let’s go vacation there.’ It definitely feels Arctic and remote, but it wasn’t that bad. Being there, you can start wrapping your head around what’s involved in the culture. Everyone is so friendly.”

Not only did Shaffer find time to keep up his running, he also competed in a local 5-kilometer race.

“It was kind of hokey,” he said. “But it was really neat to see how much other races are just like ours.”

Shaffer said one aspect of it he found amusing was how almost everyone participated in an orchestrated Zoomba-like warm-up, led by people on stages that rose 20 or more feet above the crowd.

After the race in which he finished 10th, Shaffer hung out with several of the other runners in a hot tub. He said almost every town in Iceland has a swimming pool, public hot tub, and water slides due to the country’s geothermal conditions.

“It was a neat way to experience that other interest of mine,” he said.