WASHINGTON (March 1, 2011)—Six visionary educators are this year’s selections for the fifth annual National Geographic Grosvenor Teacher Fellows program, established to honor former National Geographic Society Chairman Gilbert M. Grosvenor’s lifetime commitment to geographic education. This opportunity was donated in perpetuity to the National Geographic Society by Sven-Olof Lindblad and Lindblad Expeditions to mark Grosvenor’s 75th birthday in 2006 and to honor his service in enhancing and improving geographic education across the United States.
Each year, K-12 educators from around the country are encouraged to apply for a professional development opportunity that recognizes teachers who have demonstrated excellence in geographic education. The objective is to enhance their geographic learning through direct experience and bring that knowledge back to their classrooms. The 2011 Fellows are:
Margaret Chernosky, a 10th- and 12th-grade teacher at Bangor High School in Maine, whose students use inquiry with Geographic Information Systems to examine temporal and spatial patterns within the community. This spring, their geo-historical project is partnering with the Fire of 1911 Commemoration Committee for the 100th anniversary of the Bangor fire. Chernosky is a 10-year member of the Maine Geographic Alliance.
Ann Christianson, a 7th-grade world geography teacher at John Muir Middle School in Wausau, Wis., whose adaptation of “The Amazing Race” brings students, teachers, parents and community members together in an educational challenge related to the history, geography and economy of Wausau. Christianson has been a member of the Wisconsin Geographic Alliance for 19 years.
Amy Blonn, a 5th-grade outdoor science educator at the Houston Independent School District’s Outdoor Education Center in Trinity, Texas. Each week, she utilizes an outdoor setting to teach experiential, inquiry-based science lessons to 250 new students who travel 100 miles out of Houston’s urban landscape to learn with her team.
Ani Smith, a 4th-grade teacher at Sheridan School in Elgin, Ill., who inspires a passion for geography and the wonder of nature in her students. Her class creates a “Virtual Vacations” travel agency and transforms the classroom into Hawaii, complete with a floor-to-ceiling Mount Kilauea volcano. Smith has served the Illinois State Geographic Alliance for 18 years and also served as the Illinois Geographic Bee coordinator for the National Geographic Bee for several years.
Kevin Witte, a 9th- to 12th-grade teacher at Kearney High School in Kearney, Neb., and recipient of the 2010 Outstanding Global Educator in Nebraska MELBA Award. Witte designed an International Wealth & Poverty course where his students study reports from U.N. agencies and NGOs and participate in a sustainable development course offered by the Earth Institute at Columbia University. He is a 12-year member of Geographic Educators of Nebraska.
Chad Pelton, a 7th- and 8th-grade science teacher at the John D. Runkle School in Brookline, Mass., who provides hands-on learning to all 60 of his students in an annual overnight geology field trip to western Massachusetts and upstate New York. Students are required to explain, through modeling and writing, their understanding of how Earth constantly changes and how climate changes impact our planet.
The Fellows will travel this summer on an in-depth exploration of Arctic Svalbard aboard the Lindblad Expeditions ship National Geographic Explorer. Their journey will take them within some 600 miles of the North Pole, where they will experience the legendary midnight sun against the strikingly beautiful wilderness of towering glaciers as well as indigenous life such as wild polar bears, walruses and some of the largest whales on Earth. And with the benefit of the unparalleled expertise of their Lindblad-National Geographic expedition team, the Fellows will return with a wealth of knowledge to educate and inspire their students as well as to share with professional colleagues at conferences.
“This program recognizes outstanding teachers who are dedicated to improving geographic literacy in our classrooms and encouraging children to become responsible caretakers of our planet,” said Sven-Olof Lindblad, founder of Lindblad Expeditions. “We are delighted that these outstanding educators, who are so strongly committed to hands-on geographic education, will journey to Arctic Svalbard with us.”
“The partnership with Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic is an ideal fit of our two missions,” said Gil Grosvenor, chairman of the National Geographic Education Foundation. “We believe in the value of educational travel, and Lindblad’s programs are the best. Teachers who are recognized as Fellows will have experiences they will never forget.”
To learn more about this opportunity and to watch video of Grosvenor Fellows from previous years, visit http://www.expeditions.com/teachers. To become more involved in geographic education, contact your State Geographic Alliance at http://www.ngsednet.org/community/about.cfm?community_id=94.
Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic
Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic have joined in a mission-driven alliance to inspire people to explore and care about the planet. As pioneers of global exploration, the organizations work in tandem to produce innovative marine expedition programs and to promote conservation and sustainable tourism around the world. The partnership’s educationally oriented voyages allow guests to interact with leading scientists, naturalists and researchers while discovering stunning natural environments, above and below the sea, through state-of-the-art exploration tools. A joint philanthropic fund that supports science and conservation groups enables better understanding of the world’s remaining special places and fosters the dissemination of geographic knowledge around the globe.
NOTE: INTERVIEWS WITH THIS YEAR’S GROSVENOR TEACHER FELLOWS AND PHOTOS ARE AVAILABLE. ARCTIC B-ROLL PACKAGES WILL BE AVAILABLE FOLLOWING THE TEACHERS’ VOYAGES.