Grant gives teacher global perspective

Valerie Anglemyer

MIDDLEBURY — A Northridge Middle School teacher has been chosen by the U.S. Department of State to be part of the Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms Program.

Valerie Anglemyer, who teaches eighth grade at Northridge, is one of about 75 U.S. citizens who have been selected for the program this school year.

“I’m just really excited,” she said. “I think it’s going to be a really great opportunity to learn from other cultures and to bring some of that learning back to my school.”

Anglemyer has yet to find out where she will go for her three-week program in the summer of 2020. She won’t know until January, but she said last year’s destinations included India and Colombia.

“Nervous excitement, I think, would be the best describing of my feelings about that,” Anglemyer said.

“Global learning has always been a passion of mine. I always try to include global projects into my classroom, and so through that, I have met some pretty amazing people, who are also educators, throughout the world,” she said.

Working with people from different backgrounds is enriching, both for Anglemyer and her students, she said. Through the Fulbright program, she hopes to improve her classroom’s connection to the world.

This is Anglemyer’s first year at Northridge Middle School after 12 years at NorthWood Middle School in Wakarusa. She has already implemented a global perspective in the classroom.

A few times each month, her students call another class at an unknown location over Skype. Students then play a game called “Mystery Skype,” which resembles 20 Questions, as the classrooms compete at being first to figure out where the other classroom is located.

So far this year Anglemyer’s students have played with students in Alaska, Tennessee and a Chicago suburb. At the end of each game, she said, students like to ask questions about what it’s like to live elsewhere.

“Those connections are really fun, especially if they’re out of the country,” she said.

The students also participate in global projects, where teachers around the world will post assignments. That might include completing a set of drawings and then discussing with a partner class what the thoughts behind them could be. Anglemyer’s class has also worked with challenges that the United Nations has put out with its sustainability goals.

When Anglemyer arrives at her yet-to-be-disclosed destination, she will spend up to three weeks with a partner teacher. They will get to meet education leaders who work with policy, while also going into classrooms and seeing how teachers go about their jobs there. Anglemyer will be able to offer professional development for local teachers and build relationships to sustain relationships beyond the few weeks that she will be there, she said.

In order to be accepted for the program, Anglemyer shared how she uses Mystery Skype and other tools with a global perspective in her classroom. She also wrote about some of her students doing outstanding student service learning projects.

She hopes her students will then benefit from her participation in the Fulbright program.

So does Northridge Middle School principal Rachel Vallance.

“We are just pleased as punch for her and proud of her for taking a risk and going out there and being able to win this scholarship, and we’re super excited about the global perspective that this will help her bring to the students in our school,” Vallance said.

She believes Anglemyer is the first Northridge Community Schools teacher to be accepted for the Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms Program, but teachers always try to educate students from a global perspective, since the world continues to shrink, she said.

“And so I think it’s important for them to understand that there’s more to the world than Elkhart County, Indiana,” Vallance said.

According to the principal, taking a global perspective can also help students understand the importance of accepting each other.

“To know that we aren’t all from the same place, and we aren’t all going to stay in the same place,” she said.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to build relations between the people of the United States and the people of other countries in order to solve global challenges.

The program is funded through an annual appropriation made by Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the program, which operates in over 160 countries worldwide.

Follow Rasmus S. Jorgensen on Twitter at @ReadRasmus

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