Trips abroad inspire new lessons

Teachers come back fired up after spending summer picking up ideas for classroom

Chicagotribune.com

Gloria Moyer rediscovered her passion for teaching this summer in a French village called Coupvray, fingering some of Louis Braille’s reading slate in the home where he invented his literacy code for the blind.

Lucy Klocksin was renewed on a New Zealand mountaintop, during a predawn “Matariki” ceremony shared with Maori schoolchildren blowing softly into conch shells.

Michelle Greenfield felt a rush during the deafening takeoff of the space shuttle Atlantis at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, an experience narrated by a former astronaut who shared his firsthand knowledge.

For the first time, 51 Chicago Public School teachers won the opportunity to travel to six continents this summer-all-expenses-paid adventures designed to inspire classroom educators and their students.

These city teachers will return to their classrooms Tuesday refreshed and toting a trove of memorabilia-wood carvings, spacesuits, pen-pal letters, Johannesburg prison photos, Italian mosaics and chunks of meteorite.

“We were like little kids, watching the launch,” said Greenfield, a science teacher at Armstrong Elementary in Rogers Park, who won the summer fellowship in Florida with her husband Dan, who teaches math at Eberhart Elementary in Chicago Lawn. “To know you can share that excitement with kids, it makes you want to go back to work. It excites your passion.”

The summer professional development program was created by the non-profit Chicago Foundation for Education, which partnered with the Fund for Teachers to sponsor $200,000 worth of exotic travel.

The winners were chosen among 250 applicants and awarded grants ranging from $1,800 to $7,500 for 39 solo and team projects. The organization hopes to fund another 40 study proposals next summer.

“What we were looking for is ultimately how these grants were going to impact children and increase student learning,” said Kris Reichmann, executive director of the Chicago Foundation. “Teachers had to justify how this was going to improve their teaching practice, help students and the broader school community. If teachers were looking for funds for a summer vacation, that was automatically cast aside.”

The screening committee said no to a teacher looking to take a Mediterranean cruise with other educators.

Otherwise, no idea seemed too offbeat to qualify.

Yoga in Ecuador. Conservation in Botswana. Whale research in Brazil. Bicycling along the Tour de France course.

“I will have the opportunity to explore nearly all the regions of France, cheering on the racers as I stand shoulder to shoulder with actual French citizens, in real French villages, against authentic French backdrops,” Abby Imram, a French teacher at Walter Payton College Prep, wrote in her grant application. “While I will be seeking an authentic and intimate experience, every moment of every day will be a potential lesson to share with my students.”

A special education teacher for 31 years, Moyer brought back more concrete lessons to share with students and colleagues at Otis Elementary. Her pilgrimage to the birthplace of Louis Braille will enrich the lessons she creates for Braille Literacy Month. She will team-teach a unit on French culture in a 1st grade bilingual class.

Her class of 16 vision-impaired students will be encouraged to find pen pals from a stack of letters she brought home from South Wales, also a part of her travels. Her experience volunteering at a British adventure camp for the blind taught her new challenges she can share with her students.

“I have always wanted to visit schools in England to see the difference in how kids are taught in Braille,” she said. “I’ve always loved what I do, but to be able to develop something that was entirely my own idea… it’s just an incredible fantasy come true. I truly feel so energized.”

For Cynthia Townsend, a dream of studying apartheid in South Africa first took shape six years ago, when she and her classroom of 4th graders immersed themselves in a monthlong study of the country.

She was awed by the history she discovered and angered by the racism that still plagues Soweto and Capetown neighborhoods. They toured schools and museums, and interviewed residents about their lives.

“Socially, things were much better, but economically it was a mess,” said Townsend, a North Lawndale native who said she drew suspicious stares at restaurants and inns where the only black faces were those of the workers.

Yet this is not the lesson Townsend wants to impart to students about her adventure. “There’s nothing like being able to teach from experience, for the kids to be able to see that I talked to these people, I visited this orphanage. I want my students to realize this is possible, to know that Madison [Street] is not the limit of their world.”

Galleria Chamber to sponsor family event / Fund Run scheduled for February 2007

Houston Chronicle

The Galleria Chamber of Commerce will serve as the presenting sponsor for the Fund for Teachers’s Fund Run, which is scheduled for Feb. 10, 2007 in the Galleria-area.

The family-friendly event increases community awareness and raises funds for self-designed professional development opportunities for local teachers.

“We are so glad to be partnering with (Fund for Teachers) since they are making a valuable investment in keeping teachers from our community inspired and involved in the classroom,” said Darrell Roth, 2006 chairman of the board, Galleria Chamber of Commerce.

“It is refreshing and gratifying to have a national nonprofit with such strong roots in our neighborhood.”

Karen Kovach-Webb, executive director of Fund for Teachers, said she thinks the alliance is a “perfect fit.”

“We feel this is a perfect fit since the (chamber) has a strong commitment to education in the Houston community.”

More than 450 runners took part in the inaugural event in January 2006 at Sam Houston Park downtown, Kovach-Webb said.

The event raised $168,000 for self-designed professional development opportunities for Houston-area teachers, she said.

The Galleria Chamber of Commerce is a business alliance serving the business and cultural interests of their service area which includes The Galleria, Uptown, Greenway Plaza and West Houston.

The Chamber is proud to represent their 750 plus members.

For more information, visit www.fundforteachers.org or call 713-296-6127.

Copyright notice: All materials in this archive are copyrighted by Houston Chronicle Publishing Company Division, Hearst Newspapers Partnership, L.P., or its news and feature syndicates and wire services. No materials may be directly or indirectly published, posted to Internet and intranet distribution channels, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed in any medium. Neither these materials nor any portion thereof may be stored in a computer except for personal and non-commercial use.

School’s in for the summer

TownOnline.com

At the Lucy Stone Elementary School in Dorchester, Anne Roman teaches a class of 22 first graders. But this summer in Tanzania, she will teach a class three times that size.

Roman, a Scituate resident, is one of 43 teachers in the Boston Public Schools who recently won a “Fund for Teachers/Boston” grant for summer travel and study from the Boston Plan for Excellence – the city’s local education foundation. She will travel to the country of Tanzania next month in order to teach English to a class of 70, 9-year-old African students.

The overseas experience is said to be hard emotionally, physically and academically, but Roman – who will travel with a fellow teacher from the Lucy Stone School – expects it to be the most rewarding opportunity.

“We felt like we won the lottery,” she said about the chance to teach the children of the Chagga tribe in Moshi, Tanzania. “No opportunities come around like this. These are the perks to teaching.”

Roman will begin her three-week journey on July 13 under the organization and sponsorship of Cross Cultural Solutions (CCS) – an international volunteering organization.

Until then she has been brushing up on her Swahili, in order to ease the language barrier with her new students.

According to Roman, in order for the younger students to attend middle and high school, they must be fluent in English.

“As teachers and English speakers, we want to do what little we can to help, to have a small impact on global change, one child at a time,” she said.

“They rely on people like us to teach them these skills in order to remain an active part in the world market.”

Roman also hopes to bring back to her Lucy Stone students – with the majority of African American descent – the experience of new cultures and traditions and the knowledge in African folk tales for the new school year.

“We as teachers always looking for ways to make teaching interesting and more fun,” she said.

With other volunteers from around the world, Roman will stay in a Moshi village dormitory, located at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro. On weekends, volunteers will also take CCS-organized cultural side trips to Serengeti National Park, Olduvai Gorge, where anthropologists Louis and Mary Leakey conducted research, and to Zanzibar Island, where they’ll take the “Spice Tour.”

This is the third summer that the Fund For Teachers/Boston, joined with the Boston Plan for Excellence, has awarded grants to teachers in the city’s public schools. This summer, the chosen teachers have received $169,226 in grants to travel to and study in 29 foreign countries and several states.

Teacher pursues quilting project

North Reading resident Susan Fitzgerald will nourish her long-time passion for quilting this summer at the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina, and plan the second year of a school-wide project on the fiber arts at the Boston elementary school in which she teaches. Fitzgerald is one of 43 teachers in the Boston Public Schools who recently won a Fund For Teachers/Boston grant for summer travel and study from the Boston Plan for Excellence, the city’s local education foundation.

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to develop my skills as a quilter in a relaxed setting,” says Fitzgerald, who teaches grade 2 at Manning Elementary School in Jamaica Plain. “Being one of 12 students in a supportive classroom, developing my creative skills in color and pattern, is a dream, with nature as a backdrop.”

Fitzgerald is part of a three-teacher team from the Manning who will study at the folk arts school. Last year, the Manning was the “lucky recipient” of several sheep fleeces, a donation that led to a school-wide project on the fiber arts. “We all learned to skirt, scour, and pick the fleece. Hallways were filled with children lugging buckets of water to and from classrooms to wash away muck from the wool. “The children loved it!,” the team says. That project helped students understand, they emphasize, that everyday materials came from somewhere, and that production was a step-by-step process that can be broken down, identified, and with practice, mastered.

In their two weeks in North Carolina, studying under nationally known instructors and with “protected time to focus on our own education,” the three hope to master new skills in dyeing, weaving, and quilting for their project this fall. “Student learning, especially their language skills, just exploded during our fiber arts unit last year,” says Fitzgerald. “They described the activities, shared experiences, read directions, wrote stories (and directions), recorded results, predicted amounts of material and time needed for tasks.” Adding quilting will allow students to experiment with shapes, color, and pattern designs and to integrate math, Fitzgerald adds.

Fitzgerald has taught in Boston’s public schools for 34 years, including 23 years at the Manning, and has lived in East Walpole for 22 years. She has also been a member of North Parish Quilters for 20 years.

Fund For Teachers/Boston is a joint project of the Boston Plan for Excellence and the Boston Public Schools, and this is the third summer the partnership has awarded grants to teachers in the city’s public schools. For summer 2006, 43 teachers have won $169,226 in grants to travel to and study in 29 foreign countries and several states. Supported exclusively with private monies, Fund For Teachers/Boston is underwritten by the national Fund For Teachers; by the Surdna Foundation and an anonymous donor, which fund Teachers As Artists grants; and by other donors.

Newsletter – Volume 2, Summer 2006

In This Issue:
News Corporation, Jones Apparel donate $1.8 million
The Pure Life: Costa Rican Style
Petrellos Host Gala

Read our recent newsletter, Odyssey.

 

 

Raymond Plank on Fund for Teachers

Murdoch Pushes To Bridge U.S. – Asia ‘Culture Gap’

Greg Levine
Forbes.com

New York – As China and India rise in the 21st century, some say the “culture gap” between the U.S. and the rest of the world could be fatal to its place in the sun.

And as a naturalized American, Rupert Murdoch is keenly aware of the phenomenon. Being Australian-born and well-traveled gives the News Corp. (nyse: NWS – news – people ) chairman and chief executive a global perspective.

And so the billionaire is taking action. In a press release on Tuesday, Murdoch’s media colossus and Jones Apparel Group (nyse: JNY – news – people ) said they’re joining forces to show America the world-in person.

News Corp. and Jones Apparel announced a major grant to Fund For Teachers (FFT), an entity that furnishes “outstanding teachers” with shots at exotic summer learning and exploration.

The two corporations have donated to enable educators from America’s most “global” metropolis, New York City, to study in Asian nations. The hope is that said teachers will be better able to instill, first-hand, a broader understanding of Asia into American students.

With an infusion of $1.5 million, the News Corp. Asian Grant Program will be managed by New Visions for Public Schools, the New York metro area’s administrative partner of FFT.

Through its Jones New York In The Classroom organization, the clothier has pledged $300,000 to FFT. Teachers will create their own Asian itineraries, and this donation will be used to develop curricula to “enrich the learning experience in the classroom and in cities and towns across” America.

Raymond Plank, founder of FFT said in the statement that “Children need to understand and embrace the global environment to survive as adults. The culture gap is a huge threat to the global workforce.”

Murdoch echoed that sentiment – with a dose of optimism: “We are proud to sponsor a program that will prepare our students to face the challenges and opportunities of a globally connected world.”

Ojala. One can only hope.

Fund for Teachers Grows

Among donors and hosts, generosity reigns at garden party

Shelby Hodge
Houston Chronicle

Cynthia and Tony Petrello stepped up to the plate in a major way with the Fund for Teachers garden party Friday night.

They opened the lush gardens of their elegant Remington Lane home to a crowd of 300 for a buffet dinner and later dancing to the sounds of Chaka Khan.

Of course, they had good reason. Their close friend Gene Isenberg, Nabors Industries chairman and CEO, was honoree. Tony serves as president and COO of the drilling company. All that and their interest in education prompted the generous Petrellos to completely underwrite the evening.

he dapper Isenberg and his wife, Ronnie, moved through the crowd greeting such important players as Raymond Plank, Fund for Teachers founder and Apache Corp. chairman.

The crucial question for the party hosts and planner Richard Flowers on this weather-filled weekend was tents or no tents. In the end, they took the safe route, erecting a vast tent for the buffet dinner and program and a separate party tent decorated like a swank nightclub for dessert and dancing.

The evening served as the culmination of the Fund for Teachers’ annual spring fundraising push, an effort that brought in $1.8 million. In the crowd were Anne Mendelsohn, Jill and Jeff Collins, Mary Lou and Walt Smith, Susie and Bob Peebler, Leticia and Steve Trauber and Linda and Jeff Stephens.

View photos.