Eight Teachers In Fenway Schools Win Grants For Summer Rravel And Study

The Fenway News, Boston, MA

A dream itinerary for any traveler, that dream will come true for Farragut Elementary School teachers Barbara Casserly and Leslie McGowan, thanks to a grant from the Boston Plan For Excellence (BPE). They’ll follow in the footsteps of Isabella Stewart Gardner this summer, touring sites across Italy that she visited in collecting art for her museum in the Fenway. Along the way, the teachers will do some collecting themselves: photos, videos, sketches, interviews, and artifacts to bring the museum’s history alive for their students in the fall.

Ms. Casserly and Ms. McGowan are just two of 94 teachers in the Boston Public Schools who have won a grant to travel and study this summer. More than 300 teachers in the Boston Public Schools applied for these first-ever grants, and BPE awarded almost $250,000 to individual teachers and teams of teachers who will visit a total of 24 foreign countries and at least 17 states this summer.

Three teachers at another Fenway school, Boston Arts Academy (BAA), also won grants. Humanities teacher Sonya Brown and Spanish instructor Cara Livermore-Alba will take a two-week course, Afro-Cuban Dance and Percussion, in Mantanzas, Cuba, and then spend a third week touring and researching Cuban history and identity. What they learn will be incorporated into their instruction next fall – their newly acquired skills in dance and music, their first-hand knowledge of the Cuban culture, and the extensive primary source material they hope to collect.

BAA’s visual arts teacher Beth Balliro will head to Mexico for three weeks of research on historically significant murals in Cacaxtla, Ixmiquilpan, Mexico City, and Queretaro. Her goal is to develop a mural painting curriculum for grade 10 students, incorporate a unit on Mexican art into the school’s art history course, and brush up on her Spanish.

Lynn Burke and Rachel Skerritt, English teachers at Boston Latin School, are off to Hong Kong., Beijing, and Shanghai with a video camera. Too many of her their students, they say, have little knowledge of this area, which hinders their understanding of the works of Chinese and Chinese-American authors. They hope to create a documentary video and collect materials for their classes. Tobin K-8 teacher Ana Rosa will team with Hennigan Elementary School’s Ana Patricia Montoya to tour rain forests, wildlife reserves, and other sites in Costa Rica and develop a unit on ecosystems. The two will also visit schools to start a pen-pal exchange.

No matter their destination, these teachers will certainly bring back experiences to enrich their students in the Fenway’s schools.

Fenway Teachers Who Have Won Grants from the Boston Plan for Excellence:

Farragut Elementary School
Teacher: Barbara Casserly and Leslie McGowan
Project: Retrace Isabella Stewart Gardner’s footsteps through Italy

Tobin K-8
Teacher: Ana Rosa
Project: Study Costa Rica’s diverse tropical habitats to develop new science units

Boston Arts Academy
Teacher: Beth Balliro
Project: Visit historically significant murals in Mexico
Teacher: Sonya Brown and Cara Livermore-Alba
Project: Study folkloric dance and music in Cuba

Boston Latin School
Teacher: Lynn Burke and Rachel Skerritt
Project: Tour and create a video of Hong Kong, Beijing, and Shanghai