Tuscaloosa Academy Teacher Wins National Geographic Fellowship
A local teacher at Tuscaloosa Academy, Jaclyn Foster, has been chosen for the 2021 Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship from the National Geographic Society and Lindblad Expeditions.
This fellowship selects 50 educators to embark on a one- to three-week trip to a remote location. According to National Geographic, this could include locations "such as the high Arctic, southeast Alaska, Central America, Antarctica, or the Galápagos Islands." After the trip is over, these teachers will be ambassadors to other National Geographic educators for two years.
"The whole point is to help foster a love for learning about our planet by participating in hands-on field experiences that we can bring back to our classroom," Foster said.
The fellows were originally set to travel in 2020, but this was put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to National Geographic, the teachers will be accompanied by "an outstanding expedition team including marine biologists, geologists, historians, scientists, undersea specialists, and National Geographic photographers."
Foster is the only teacher selected from the state of Alabama. She has been an educator for 17 years and teaches several classes for 7th and 8th grade students at TA.
Foster became a National Geographic certified teacher in 2017 while teaching in Virginia. She said she was surprised to be selected but was honored to be chosen for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
"[The] Grosvenor teacher fellowship is kind of like winning the lottery for educators because so many people apply for it," Foster said.
Foster wants to use this opportunity to inspire and impact her students.
"It is clearly the professional development opportunity of a lifetime you know we read about stuff [in] like National Geographic magazines and you see stuff on television, but to be able to experience it," Foster said. "That really gets our students attention. Its one thing reading it its another thing if your teachers telling you, like how they experienced it."
While the program has not assigned destinations, Foster said she is working with her students to develop research questions she can investigate while on her trip.
"I go off what my students are interested in," Foster said. "I want them to be excited about learning. So we're just going through different topics we're interested in for different areas that I could possibly be going to."
Foster told her students when she applied for the fellowship and says they all screamed in excitement when she got the news. She hopes she will have opportunities to teach her class from the field.
"I would be doing a lot of the lessons, hopefully, from the expedition ship," she said. "I want to be able to get some live videos and pull activities for them to do so they're part of my journey."