Education News

Fulbright taking Starksboro teacher to South America

THIS SUMMER, KERRY Lake will head to Uruguay as part of her participation in the Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms program. The third- and fourth-grade teacher is looking forward to sharing what she learns with her students and the Robinson Elementary School community in Starksboro. 
Photo courtesy of Kerry Lake

STARKSBORO — Kerry Lake’s approach to teaching has largely been shaped by her experiences outside the classroom, and more specifically, outside the United States. The Robinson Elementary School teacher’s visits to foreign countries have introduced her to the wide world that awaits her students and revealed the importance of preparing her third- and fourth-graders for that world. 

Lake’s now looking forward to how her next expedition will further inspire her work as an educator. 

This June, Lake will head to Uruguay as part of the Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms program. Her trip to the South American country is one part of the year-long program, designed to help educators bring an international perspective to their schools. 

Lake said she’s thrilled to have been selected for this year’s exchange. She’s one of 63 teachers from throughout the country who made the cut. 

“I was ecstatic and really honored,” she said. “I think it’s so important to help students to view themselves as global citizens and the Fulbright has been such a valuable opportunity to extend and expand that.” 

The Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms (TGC) program is one of several teacher exchanges offered through the Fulbright Program, an international educational exchange program led by the United States government in partnership with over 160 countries. 

Through online course work, a professional development workshop and a three-week trip abroad, the Fulbright TGC program connects teachers from around the United State and equips them with skills to prepare their students for a competitive global economy. Lake said her interest in bringing a global perspective to her classroom is what inspired her to apply for the prestigious program.

“It was something that I had heard about and applied for a little bit at the last minute.” she said. “I knew that it would help increase my skills around global education. Traveling and learning about people from countries throughout the world has always been really exciting to me as a person and a teacher.”

It appears her excitement resonated with the Fulbright TGC panel, as Lake kicked off her participation in the program this past September with a nine-week online course on global education best practices. 

The graduate level course consists of self-paced and collaborative material, totaling around 10 hours of work per week. 

“It was really intense, but it was one of the best and most inspiring professional developments that I’ve been lucky enough to work through,” Lake said. “It really expanded my views of teaching in the classroom and how to integrate the ideas and concepts I was learning in the course throughout my classroom.”

The course also allowed Lake to collaborate on course material with teachers across the country. This fall, a connection Lake made with a fellow Fulbright teacher created an opportunity for Starksboro students to correspond with “mystery pen pals” at Cottonwood Elementary School in Tucson, Ariz. 

Students compiled clues about their home state and tried to guess where their pen pals were located. 

“It was really neat to have kids doing that kind of on the fly exchange of information. It really kick-starts the idea of building empathy and relationships, and exchanging ideas,” she said. 

Lake this past weekend attended the Global Education Symposium in Washington, D.C., where she and other program participants connected with other educators and developed strategies to enhance global learning in their communities and during their upcoming trips abroad.

“It will be really interesting to meet these other teachers face to face, and to hear how they’ve been applying these things in their classroom, because I feel that’s the place where the most learning happens for me,” Lake said as she prepared for the conference.

OFF TO URUGUAY

A handful of those teachers will join Lake on her trip to Uruguay this summer. During that trip, Lake’s cohort will travel to several communities and learn about the South American country’s history, education system and culture. They’ll visit schools, meet with local educators and participate in cultural excursions and workshops. 

Lake said she’s looking forward to absorbing as much as possible during the trip. 

“I’m just trying to be open minded and open to everything that I can see and learn and do. It’s good to approach it with a sense of wonder and opportunity and see where the relationships will take me there and then beyond. Because it’s really just the beginning,” she said. 

She hopes the trip will be fruitful for the Robinson Elementary School community as well. 

“I feel like being chosen for this program offers me such a rich opportunity, that I can learn and grow as a teacher and provide a global focus and perspective to share with my colleagues here,” she said. “In our education system today, we are preparing students for a global future. Anything we can do to further that and push that along, I’m excited to help with.” 

Part of the program entails creating a global education guide to serve as a resource for Lake’s community. The guide can be used as a tool for Lake to share her experiences with the Robinson Elementary community and promote global awareness. 

Lake’s also hoping the connection she makes through the program will allow for further collaboration with educators and students throughout the world. 

 “One of the things that is exciting is trying to build relationships with schools not in our state,” Lake said. “I feel that relationships really form the bedrock of my teaching. When that’s really solid then you can work through a really positive learning environment, kids can take risks and teachers can provide positive learning spaces.” 

Robinson Elementary School Principal Edorah Frazer lauded Lake for her acceptance into the Fulbright TGC program. 

“I am so very proud of Kerry Lake and her commitment to global education. She has long been a leader in connecting her classroom to the world,” Frazer said. “She provides multiple opportunities for her students to interact with people from other countries and regions of the United States, and her class often leads service activities such as food drives and pet supply drives.”

Frazer joined Lake on her trip to the Global Education Symposium in Washington. She said she’s excited as future opportunities that arise from Lake’s participation in the program. 

“I’m looking forward to learning more about Uruguay specifically, and I’m sure Kerry will also develop sustained connections with educators from other parts of the U.S. I hope there will be a way for Kerry’s classroom to connect to Uruguayan students in real time,” Frazer said.

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