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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Melissa Kandido, teacher at Beveridge Magnet Middle School in Omaha, NE, designed her FFT fellowship to examine Namibian history and culture through performing, visual and utilitarian arts to create a hands-on curriculum that increases global awareness through videos, distance learning, service learning and realia.

Upon her return, she penned this beautiful open letter to her students. The full poem is here and this link leads to a video of her reading accompanied by photos from her experiences in Africa and her students in Nebraska. As a line in her poem suggests, she is a professional dedicated to her students and their “moving from “acquisition of knowledge to a legacy leaving footprints.”

"Today we had the opportunity to share what we learned about yoga with Pre-K students with our colleagues. They had a blast! We were stopped by so many people afterwards who expressed their own excitement about using yoga with their own students as well. Thank you, Fund For Teachers, for giving us the chance of a lifetime and for the opportunity to impact hundreds of students in the process. We created this digital story about our adventure and hope you enjoy it!"

Jill Charrier & Linda Abaunza-Jimenez - PreK Teachers
Hinojosa PreK/Early Childhood Center – Aldine, TX

Connie Hambey and Karon Decker, teachers at Hewitt-Trussville City Schools in Trussville, AL, are already appying experiences and learning from their fellowship to their curriculum. They designed an FFT fellowship to spend six weeks in Thailand investigating the condition of endangered elephants using modern field research practices to develop an ecology unit focusing on methodology, inquiry and advocacy for science-based conservation initiatives.Their blog shares highlights from the eduventure, as well as classroom applications so far…

"What is cool about this process and the work we did this summer with Earthwatch and Think Elephants International is we have a clear cool experience to bring almost every unit back to our experience and the big year long species project that students are working on.  Now, as a result of the data, and seeing science in action, students will create a book with a section for each unit as it relates to their species.  In the spring students will present all they have learned in some kind of public forum.  Our goal for the background information presentations will be two fold.  1)  Students will be able to form meaningful connections with the application of each concept taught throughout the year.  2)  Students can receive feedback and suggestions from their peers before moving forward with their capstone project of creating a public relations campaign for their species.”

Lori Tipton and Kerri Shrestha, teachers at Walker Valley High School, compiled highlights from their fellowship into a 2:21 video. Enjoy watching them trek and bike through Peru’s Andes Mountains and Amazon Rainforest ecosystems to document and demonstrate for students factors that influence the adaptations for survival of living organisms in extreme environments.

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