published Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Hamilton County teachers plan for summer travel

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$15.9 million: Fund for Teachers grants awarded since 2001

4,500: Teachers across the United States who have earned awards

$5,000: Maximum award for individual teachers

$10,000: Maximum award for teams

$100,000: Amount now available annually to Hamilton County teachers

Source: Fund for Teachers

Where have teachers gone?

Two teachers retraced the journey of explorers Lewis and Clark on motorcycles. They then created a nature trail at their school resembling that path to help teach history.

A teacher studied the relationship between art and history in Mexico to help design culturally relevant lessons for a diverse student body.

Teachers learned excavation skills on an archaeological dig with the Israeli Antiquities Department to construct a dig site on campus back in the United States.

A teacher spent several weeks at a Dartmouth College debate camp to help teach debate and English courses.

One teacher completed a water-quality study in Thailand and East Asia and now works with students studying the school's water supply.

Hamilton County teachers will embark on adventures near and far this summer, making the world their classrooms.

The Public Education Foundation and Hamilton County Schools are partnering with the Houston nonprofit Fund for Teachers, which pays for summer travel fellowships for teachers. The Texas organization will provide up to $100,000 for Hamilton County educators to travel the globe as a means of professional growth.

Fund for Teachers supports the summer expeditions, in which teachers study a certain topic or geographic area, in hopes that teachers will bring their new knowledge back to their own classrooms. Teachers design their trips, meaning there's no limit to the ideas that could be approved.

"I don't know what kinds of things they'll do. I think that's part of the extraordinary opportunity, that some of this is to be defined by teachers and by schools," said Dan Challener, president of the Public Education Foundation.

Selected teachers will receive up to $5,000 for an individual trip or $10,000 for a team trip.

Last summer, 433 U.S. teachers traveled in 116 countries across all seven continents as part of the grant program.

Fund for Teachers spokeswoman Carrier Pillsbury said grant applications would be reviewed by the organization and local educators.

The donor-funded organization works with school systems across the country.

Pillsbury said the grant program is special because it lets teachers design research trips from scratch that best would help them meet needs in their schools.

"Fund for Teachers gives a voice to educators," she said. "We trust them to know what they need most in their classrooms."

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about Kevin Hardy...

Kevin rejoined the Times Free Press in August 2011 as the Southeast Tennessee K-12 education reporter. He worked as an intern in 2009, covering the communities of Signal Mountain, Red Bank, Collegedale and Lookout Mountain, Tenn. A native Kansan, Kevin graduated with bachelor's degrees in journalism and sociology from the University of Kansas. After graduating, he worked as an education reporter in Hutchinson, Kan., for a year before coming back to Chattanooga. Honors include a ...

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