If you could go anywhere in the world to study a subject, what would it be? Where would you go? For 16 Hamilton County teachers, the program Fund for Teachers granted them unique, global learning opportunities to explore the answers to those very questions!
Fund for Teachers (FFT), a national organization based out of Texas, provides grants to educators to address professional learning gaps through self-designed summer fellowships. The Public Education Foundation (PEF) and Hamilton County Schools (HCS) have partnered with FFT since 2012, giving HCS teachers the opportunity to apply for the grant on a local level. “Thanks to the partnership between Public Education Foundation and Fund for Teachers, more than 175 Hamilton County teachers have had the opportunity to go anywhere in the world to learn more about a subject they teach,” said PEF’s President, Dr. Dan Challener. “Over the years, teachers have learned about digital fabrication in Peru, STEM education in Germany, the culture of Cambodia, robotics in China, and thermal energy in Iceland. We are so lucky to have this partnership with Fund for Teachers.”
On September 26, the community was invited to PEF to listen to each Fellow's FFT experience abroad and their plans to take what they've learned to implement in their classroom. Program Officer for FFT, Alycia Johnston, shared how truly inspired she is by the work each Fellow is doing in his or her classroom. She also informed the group of a new networking opportunity, called the Ramsden Project, which allows Fellows to stay connected after their Fellowship is over. "There are those of you who are engaging with each other year after year, and you’re continuing to seek out opportunities to give back and participate," shared Johnston. "The Ramsden Project is one of the ways we have found to continue to create that community and to unite all of you.” 2019 Fellow and Middle Valley Elementary's Lauren Pritchett studied bridges in the UK in comparison to bridges in Chattanooga. Pritchett is already utilizing the Ramsden Project by collaborating with another former Fellow at her school to bring lesson plans into her classroom. “Incorporating the bridges and the STEM impact has been huge, and I’m excited to share my experiences with my students," shared Pritchett. "I am collaborating with the STEM teacher in my school, and the students are going to build their own models based off of the bridges I studied."
FFT Fellow & Lakeside Academy's Arthur Williams attended a STEM Canadian professional learning network, as well as the International Society for Technology Education conference in Philadelphia, PA. "Getting to see what students were doing with STEM and entrepreneurship, with awareness in the global communities and global competencies, really expanded my knowledge to what’s possible for elementary school students," shared Williams. "That experience really opened my eyes to what we can be doing here. That was the most significant experience for what I’ve already started to do back in my school.”
From exploring culture and agricultural science in Peru to observing speech and language services in United Kingdom schools, there have been a wide array of subjects studied across a global scale thanks to this fellowship. “I continue to hear you all say things like, ‘I’ve had to get out of my comfort zone.’," shared Johnston, "and that is really where the magic has happened. I also continue to hear you say things like, ‘This experience is building empathy for me. It’s continuing to help me find ways to teach my students how to find their own impact.’ You don’t only impact the children that you’re working with this year, you may also have an impact in a community across the ocean.”
Thanks to the Fund for Teachers program for continuing to partner with PEF and HCS and allowing our educators to apply for this amazing opportunity to enrich student lives and learning through their fellowship. We are looking forward to continuing to witness the positive impact students will have from the learning experiences of FFT Fellows and educators.
*To read more about each FFT Fellow, check out our 2019 FFT Press Release.
Interested in becoming a 2020 Fund for Teachers Fellow?! You're in luck! The 2020 FFT grant applications are up and running here! The application deadline is January 30, 2020 at 5PM CST.
Gallery from 2019 Fund for Teachers Learning Celebration: