Believing the teacher knows best how they can make a better impact in their classroom, Fund for Teachers awards fellowships for self-designed professional growth to PreK-12 teachers who recognize the value of inquiry, the power of knowledge, and their ability to make a difference.
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To kick off staff development week at River Oaks Elementary, Pia DeLeon (Houston) presented on her fellowship observing how International Baccalaureate teachers in Japan successfully implement transdisciplinary skills to create lessons that promote independent thinking and extend beyond the classroom. She also used a portion of her $5,000 grant to visit Hiroshima’s Peace Park and leave an origami crane at the Children’s Peace Monument: Pia’s fourth grade students read Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes so, after their study and in advance of her fellowship, each child signed the crane that now joins the ten million others left from around the world each year.

Below is an exerpt from Pia’s presentation:

“…I’m speaking from my heart when I tell you that this experience has been life changing.  I traveled to Japan solo and as I reflect on this, I am overcome with emotion.  There was so much fear and anxiety within me prior to my trip, but now it has provided me with a renewed sense of self. Knowing that I was able to make my way through a foreign country and learn such invaluable lessons along the way, made me realize that I am so much more than a wife, mother, or even teacher. There is still a student instilled within me, pushing boundaries and limitations in order to gain personal growth beyond what I could have imagined. Being able to show my students that inquiry has no limitations on status, age, or occupation provides them with personal evidence that being a risk taker, while uncomfortable and scary, is extremely worth it.”

You can share in Sadako’s story by  folding your own paper crane and representatives at Hiroshima’s Peace Park will place it at Sadako’s monument. Mail to:

Peace Promotion Division
The City of Hiroshima
1-5 Nakajima-cho Naka-ku,
Hiroshima 730-0811 Japan



Headed to Teachers’ College with my colleagues!

Megan Swanson and Debbie Bennett arrived in Johannesburg after two very long flights. Debbie sat next to a local 4th grader who is keen on taking a zip line by Victoria falls, but his mother won’t allow it since it goes over crocodile infested waters. We will skip this as well.

Our hotel is in Benoni which is a very affluent suburb of Johannesburg. The houses are enormous, rivaling Beverly Hills. We were happy to hear that the area is racially integrated. We walked to the Korsman bird sanctuary which is surrounded on all sides with residential housing. Korsman is home to 110 different species of birds in a beautiful marsh habitat. Although small, this conservancy provides water and nesting areas for flamingos and other awe inspiring birds. It is being impacted by sewage run off and invasive species.

Some great sites in San Francisco!  On the way to Carmel Valley today for San Francisco Orff Course!  Thank you FFT!

Some great sites in San Francisco!  On the way to Carmel Valley today for San Francisco Orff Course!  Thank you FFT!