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Fund For Teachers Fellows Bring Their Experiences into the Classroom

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    April Hattori

Teachers: Are you interested in a unique learning experience that you can tailor to your needs? As the deadline to apply for a Fund for Teacher (FFT) summer fellowship approaches on January 28th, two EL Education teachers share how they translated their FFT experiences to their classrooms.

As a result of of her 2015 FFT fellowship, Sara Boeck of Leaders High School in Brooklyn, NY gave her students a front row seat to critically analyze resistance movements in Mexico and use them as a model for writing and meaningful resistance to injustice in local communities.

Boeck’s students have begun discussing connections between racism in the U.S. and other resistance movements and are currently reading Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Based on her research in Mexico, she revamped her expedition on advocacy for global problems to include a model for making real activist work out of students’ ideas, which will begin in the spring. The current plan is to compare the activist approaches of the Zapatistas with that of Malcolm X and make connections between the Black Lives Matter movement of today with civil rights struggles in the U.S. and Mexico. However, she noted that the plan could change, based on student feedback and interest in determining the direction of the curriculum.


Boeck at an interview with women's right's activists and domestic abuse survivors in Mexico.

“My studies in central and southern Mexico not only gave me countless practical materials, texts, artifacts, interviews, and photographs to bring back to my students, but they also revitalized my passion for social justice and renewed my belief that the struggle of social justice is worth it,” she said. Boeck’s FFT experience also enabled her to refine her Spanish so that she can now converse fluently with the Spanish speaking community that she serves.

Through his 2014 FFT fellowship, Matt Strand of Polaris Expeditionary Learning School in Fort Collins, CO researched coral reef degradation and conservation efforts and culminated his project as a volunteer oral-transplanter in a one-of-a-kind coral nursery in Key Largo, FL. Strand put his learning to use in the classroom, directly engaging students in reef conservation efforts. He created a program for them to receive their scuba diving certification and fulfilled the dream of his fellowship to empower students to participate in the Coral Restoration Foundation’s dive program where they transplanted new coral. Watch a video of their experience here.

“Beyond the amazing experience of restoring coral reefs, I learned what committed hearts and minds can do together in the face of adversity. Because of this Fellowship, I realize that personal meaning lies at the heart of real challenge, and real challenges lie at the heart of our most persistent problems. That is a powerful lesson for me as a learner, a teacher, and a human being,” Strand said.


Polaris students successfully complete their pool-based dives

Since 2004 EL Education has partnered with Fund for Teachers (FFT), a non-profit organization that enriches the personal and professional growth of teachers by supporting them as the identify and pursue opportunities around the world that make the greatest impact on their practice, students, and school communities. EL Education teachers have earned 488 of those grants, totaling over $1.6 million in funding.

To apply for an FFT fellowship, visit EL Education teachers who need help with their applications can reach out to their School Designers or School Designer Sarah Boddy at FFT fellowships are open to all teachers, not only those in the EL Education network.