Iceland is known as the Land of Fire and Ice, the most peaceful country in the world 15 years running, and – unfortunately for Big Mac fans – has zero McDonald’s. And, this year, it’s the fellowship destination for seven Fund for Teachers Fellows. Ranging in topic from sustainability and geothermal energy to yoga and elves, grant recipients from Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, and Virginia will learn within the Arctic Circle this summer.
Before Fellows begin embarking on their experiential learning, we connect them with other grant recipients who plan to be in the same region or conference. Just this week on our Instagram we shared photos of Fellows meeting up in Egypt, Dallas, Guatemala and Salamanca. However, a driving rain in Reykjavik (and five layers of coats) prevented two Fellows from recognizing each other this week. When one posted a picture, we spotted them both and reached out to coordinate a call and compare notes. And for the next hour, we finagled enough Wifi to enjoy a fascinating conversation with about divergent experiences and intended impact from these exemplary educators. Editing it down was a struggle.
Today we’re learning from Laura Nunn, teacher at Patrick Henry Elementary and Instructional Support Leader for Chicago Public Schools, and Frances Rivera, teacher at Ernie Pyle Elementary School in Indianapolis. Frances is in Iceland exploring issues of global warming, biological and cultural conservation, and sustainable development, to develop tools for teaching these issues in a Dual Language classroom. While Laura is there studying the folklore of elves and fairies said to inhabit and protect the Subarctic'snatural landforms and attending the Reykjavik Elf School, then walking sacred sites with scientists and storytellers. She plans to build a cross-curricular unit on what value stories have and how nature impacts the stories we tell.
For three years, I’ve started this podcast in the same way with the same question: Why did you become a teacher? This time, the three of us were so excited to connect that we didn’t get around to this question for a bit – but their answers are worth the wait…