Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Courtesy of Leigh VandenAkker Leigh VandenAkker, a teacher at East High School, recently completed a global fellowship in Brazil with The Pearson Foundation.
East High teacher named Pearson Foundation Global Learning Fellow
Pearson Foundation » Leigh VandenAkker spent the last week in Brazil learning global competency.
First Published Jun 27 2013 12:24 pm • Last Updated Jun 27 2013 12:24 pm

Hanging on the door outside Leigh VandenAkker’s classroom is a powerful message. It says, simply, "You Can Do Hard Things." The East High School teacher and 2012 Educator of the Year has been teaching those five words to troubled teens, refugees and any other students who have taken her class Techniques for Tough Times.

Now, as a recipient of the Pearson Foundation Global Learning Fellowship, they are words she is embracing personally.

At a glance

At a glance

The Pearson Foundation Global Learning Fellowship’s trip to Brazil included visits to schools in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

The program is in its third year. In 2011 and 2012, Pearson Foundation Fellows toured Beijing and Shanghai in China.

Leigh VandenAkker has been teaching in Utah for more than 20 years. She was the recipient of Utah’s 2012 Teacher of the Year and the 2011 Golden Apple Award.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

VandenAkker is one of 36 award-winning public-school educators who spent the past week in Brazil, touring classrooms and learning from Brazilian teachers and administrators. The effort is to improve global competence in the classroom and help students in the United States compete in an increasingly interconnected global marketplace.

Preparation for the trip has been an extensive, yearlong process, but, even after more than 20 years of teaching, VandenAkker still knows how important it is to do hard things.

"The opportunity that I’ve had to learn, to grow with this program is remarkable," she said. "Those of us who have been teaching a long time understand, when it’s your passion, the need to strive to learn and get better."

Along with their normal teaching duties, VandenAkker and the other fellows had to find time to learn basic Portuguese, finish online coursework and attend an intensive Washington, D.C., seminar understanding the curriculum.

"It’s not a vacation," said Janice Ward, the NEA Foundation’s vice president of innovation. "We want these teachers to think of every experience as a way to improve education at home. We want them to take every moment, translate it and bring it back to my students so they’ll be impacted positively."

For VandenAkker, learning how to compete in a global world and understanding diverse points of view is important on even the most basic levels. She feels that students who "stay in their own ZIP code" tend to be more inclined toward bullying, a growing problem not just in the hallways, but on social media as well.

"Bullying begins with fear of differences," she said. "I want my students to understand that they don’t have to fear the world. With understanding, we get stronger. We embrace differences. It’s all right to have our individual perspectives, but when we think outside of ourselves, we learn more about who we are as well."

Upon her return this week, VandenAkker will also begin preparing a lesson plan on global competency she will share with other teachers at East. Currently, more than 45 languages are spoken at the high school. The cultural potpourri makes programs such as the Global Learning Fellowship a necessity.


story continues below
story continues below

"The role of teachers is changing daily," VandenAkker said. "It’s our duty to embrace the changing atmosphere and be willing to learn from it."

closeup@sltrib.com

Twitter: @sltribCity



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.