All summer, I looked forward to going to the Fulbright Orientation in Washington DC. . If you’ve ever worked with me, you’ll know that I don’t like meetings or long workshops. I prefer to be active and I have trouble sitting still for too long. My feelings about this workshop were different. In addition to learning about living and working in New Zealand, I would get to meet amazing teachers from all over the United States and the world. I felt so honored to be counted among them.
Days before my flight to DC, something happened that made it even more exciting. Teachers attending the workshop were encouraged to introduce themselves through the Fulbright Facebook page. Not only were there four Chicago teachers attending, but one of them was Martha Mulligan, my mentor for National Boards. My inquiry project in New Zealand is about teacher mentoring and teacher support. As I wrote my application for this award, I thought often about Martha and another great mentor I had early in teaching, Lori Lewis. These women are honest, supportive mentors who, like me, know that the students in our city deserve great teachers who stay in the profession. I now had one more reason to look forward to the orientation.
I was not disappointed. I met teachers from Chicago to Singapore. I heard from a teacher who moved from South Carolina to Alaska to Botswana. I learned about education systems all over the world and shared my experiences as a teacher in Chicago. By the way, most people, Americans and otherwise, were shocked to learn that our school board is selected by the mayor. But I digress… I came home from the orientation with a new perspective on education. I can only imagine what I will gain from my time in New Zealand.