Today’s podcast airs on Black Friday, when millions of shoppers flock to malls to begin and finish holiday shopping. This scene stands in stark contrast to those witnessed by fifth-grade teacher Janelle Rei this summer. Between meeting with Sudanese refugee students and teachers and observing families living and working in cities built of garbage, Janelle witnessed joy and gratitude for the little things, including school supplies she delivered from her own students at Great Neck Elementary School in Waterford, CT.
Janelle is a Fund for Teachers Fellow who used her grant to experience in Egypt the locations in which two books in the fifth-grade curriculum are set to support student learning and to make global connections through The Global Read Along program. Janelle holds an undergraduate degree in education, as well as a master’s degree in special education from Bridgewater State University, and she recently completed a second master’s degree in educational technology from Eastern Connecticut State University. Her first motivation to teach, however, came from her mother, who continues to teach elementary students in nearby Rhode Island. Our conversation covered her motivation for guiding students to be empathic global citizens, how her fellowship is facilitating that, and her advice for our future FFT Fellows working on their proposals.