She’d been accepted into the prestigious 2021 cohort of Grosvenor Teacher Fellows, a field-based professional development opportunity meant to help educators bring new geographic awareness into their learning communities.
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BEAR CREEK — Amy King was leaving her son’s basketball game in Bennett in February 2020 when she saw she’d missed a call from National Geographic.
She knew what that call likely meant: that she’d been accepted into the prestigious 2021 cohort of Grosvenor Teacher Fellows, a field-based professional development opportunity meant to help educators bring new geographic awareness into their learning communities. Driving through Bennett, she didn’t have cell service; she had to wait until she got home to confirm the news.
Nearly one year after she received that call, King is finally able to share her accomplishment.
“Wow, it’s been a long road,” said King, a history teacher at Chatham Central High School.
When she found out she was a 2020 Grosvenor Fellow — part of the 50-person 14th cohort, selected from more than 2,000 applicants — she thought she’d travel to D.C. for a week training at the end of March and embark on her international expedition — at which she’d explore American history, which she teaches — in May.
“And three weeks later, everything shut down,” King said, adding that National Geographic called to say D.C. wouldn’t happen and that they weren’t sure about the status of the group’s trips. “Everything was put on hold, and it has been put on hold from February of 2020 — until now.”
Travel for the fellows is still on hold, but once it’s possible, small groups of fellows will embark on a one- to three-week voyages aboard a Lindblad Expeditions ship to various international locations. The trip will include field experience as well as training with researchers and scientists aboard the Lindblad — and livestream and video technology for educators to share their experiences with their students.
The Fellows were selected from a competitive applicant pool of pre-K–12 educators, the National Geographic’s website says, from all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Department of Defense Education Activity schools.
“The formal and informal educators in this group were chosen for their impactful work to further students’ understanding of the planet and its people, empowering them to generate solutions for a healthier and more sustainable future,” the website says. “Their work focuses on inspiring youth to become environmental stewards, mentoring and amplifying student leaders, and tackling complex issues such as climate change.”
As part of the fellowship, members of the cohort make a two-year leadership commitment, serving as “program ambassadors” in the National Geographic community to educate their communities.
King, who was named one of 10 finalists for the 2019 National History Teacher of the Year Award, has been recognized for her hands-on and creative digital lesson planning for students. She regularly incorporates multimedia such as podcasts into her lessons, with the aim of making learning about history as experience-driven as possible for her students. She’s also committed herself to teaching what she calls “hard history,” helping to shapre students who can be better stewards of history, and how it relates to current events.
Being named a Grosvenor Fellow still feels a bit surreal, King said, but she’s excited to see how the fellowship can help her students. She credits her school community for allowing her to take chances in the classroom with lesson planning, and fellow teacher, Jordan-Matthew’s Wendi Pillars, for encouraging her to apply. Pillars was a Grosvenor Fellow in 2017.
“I thought there’s no way I would actually get this,” King said, emphasizing her desire to get her students excited about learning. “Hopefully this Grosvenor teacher fellowship is going to bring that even more to students where they experience something new and different. And hopefully, it’ll be as amazing for them as it is for me.”
She’s excited for herself, but she’s really excited for all the “opportunities and possibilities” the fellowship might bring her students.
“I went to Chatham Central, so I’m an alumni, and I grew up here,” King said. “It’s a very small community, a wonderful community. But a lot of the kids here don’t get experiences like this, international experiences. And so I think what I’m most looking forward to, is actually being on an expedition and sharing this opportunity with my students in real time, if possible, or at least by video, because many of them will never get an opportunity like this.”
“I’m really eager for them to see what I see,” she added.
Reporter Hannah McClellan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @HannerMcClellan.