SOURCE: Fund for Teachers

Fund for Teachers

November 12, 2009 06:00 ET

Teaching by Example

As Holidays Near, Fund for Teachers Fellows Highlight Our Shared Humanity Through Summer Experiences

HOUSTON, TX--(Marketwire - November 12, 2009) - Teachers' lesson plans cover core subjects, charging students to do as they say. The following three teachers can add "Do as I do" to their instruction: Nella Wortman, Kara MacDevitt and Josán Perales spent transformative summer fellowships journaling impressions of Auschwitz, testing water in Southeast Asia, and interviewing migrant workers at the U.S.-Mexico border -- all to help students grasp our shared humanity.

Thanks to Fund for Teachers, Nella, Kara and Josán join the 3,500 additional "Fellows" expanding their students' worldview by first expanding their own. Fund for Teachers' summer fellowships strengthen the vital bond between curriculum, experiences and the ongoing human narrative, subsequently transforming the process of learning in their classrooms and school communities.

"My fellowship focused on integrating my writing and teaching so I could inspire students to become more engaged writers themselves," said Wortman. The child of a Holocaust survivor, she embarked on a pilgrimage to sites of historical and personal significance in Europe to draft a corresponding Memoir Writing Unit for her students at Houston's Pin Oak Middle School. Wortman's notebook of impressions and images now serves as a model for her students' own notebooks, incorporating their struggles and successes as inspiration.

Our collective need for potable water prompted MacDevitt's voyage to Southeast Asia. A former hydrologist, she spent six weeks testing samples of the world's most polluted water, often passing rice paddies irrigated with the very water contaminated by the factory next door. After returning to Brooklyn's International High School at Lafayette, MacDevitt's research compelled her students to mount a grassroots campaign to protect New York City's sole water supply from natural gas drilling.

Josán Perales and two colleagues from Vista Grande High School in Taos, NM, spent the summer researching migrant workers' experiences crossing the border in the Sonoran Desert. Their research with humanitarian groups, Border Patrol and migrant workers revealed multiple facets of the controversial subject and formed the basis of a school-wide, interdisciplinary, year-long study entitled Borders. "Borders manifest themselves in many ways," said Josán. "People always have obstacles to overcome, walls to climb or daunting odds to prove wrong. Opportunity often lies on the other side of the border."

Learn more about these teachers' experiences and find out how you or a teacher you know can create their own inspiring story this summer, at

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