Schoen Family Teacher Travelship
From 2005 - 2013, Weston Public School faculty members enjoyed an unusual professional development opportunity through the Weston Foreign Study/Travel Fellowship program. This program provided up to $20,000 each year to qualified faculty members for the purpose of an educational trip abroad during the summer recess. The original gift, which was made anonymously, was intended to support the fellowship for three years to test the concept and allow for any necessary modifications. With the success of the three-year pilot, the Schoen Family decided to continue the program and to make their support of the fellowship public. As such, the fellowship was renamed “The Schoen Family Weston Teacher Travelship.” Its purpose was to provide an opportunity for teachers to travel anywhere outside the United States and have a unique foreign study experience during the summer break from professional obligations to the Weston Public Schools.
The administration of the grants operated separately from the source of financing. All faculty members in the Weston Public Schools who have attained professional status were eligible to apply, with the exception of previous recipients. Fellows were required to be active faculty members in the school year following the summer fellowship and served as an advisor to the selection committee and provided feedback on the experience, as requested by students, faculty and parents.
A statement issued by Laurie and Scott Schoen of Weston, said, “Over the years we have had the great fortune to travel extensively together around the world. The experiences that we have shared have been life altering to us as a family and as individuals. Our travels have nurtured our curiosity, taught us to be more tolerant of different people and cultures, and upon our return to the United States helped us to appreciate better the many blessings and freedoms that we enjoy here at home. Three years ago we decided to pilot a summer foreign travel program for tenured Weston teachers that we hoped would help to enhance the perspectives and enrich the experiences of teachers and students in the Weston School community. It is our great pleasure and privilege to now fund this program on a long-term basis. We look forward to sharing your journeys of exploration and to seeing their impact on our community for many years to come.”
Dr. Cheryl Maloney, Superintendent of the Weston Public Schools, along with Dr. Alan Oliff, former Superintendent, are appreciative to the Schoens for their “incredible generosity” for a program that supported both the district’s commitment to professional development and the district’s global education initiative.
The faculty of the Weston Public Schools was fortunate to have a unique opportunity to travel to and learn about other cultures through the Schoen Family Weston Teacher Travelship.
Applications were reviewed by a panel consisting of school administrators, teachers and community members who evaluatedqualified grant proposals. These proposals were then placed into a pool from which one fellowship was selected by lottery. While the Schoens did not participate in the administration of the grant, they followed with interest the experiences of all the grant recipients.
2013 Recipient -- Dawn Nelson, Middle School Art Teacher
Dawn Nelson, Middle School Art Teacher, traveled for 32 days to Istanbul, Venice and Berlin to study “Cultures in Contrast." Dawn's thoughts on her ravelship experience: "When I found out that I would receive the Schoen Travelship, I had many expectations of what would happen to me through the experience. As it turned out, something that I never expected happened to me. It actually changed my life. Everything has shifted in my point of view. I used to see what I produced as being of highest importance. Now, I am more attendant to what I am hearing, feeling, and absorbing. If my focus and attention is on an authenticity of experience, I have realized that what comes out in terms of production will, in large part, take care of itself. My teaching and my artwork can now reflect a higher truth and a greater importance. I am so very thankful to the Schoen family for providing me with this incredible opportunity! It has, indeed, been the opportunity of a lifetime for me."
2012 Recipient -- Christie Wyman, Country School Kindergarten Teacher
Christie traveled for 33 days to England, "Looking at the Past. Wondering and Wandering with Artifacts and Sites." She participated in an archeological dig and travled throughout the country. Christie reports: "I never dreamt I, a Kindergarten teacher, would have the chance to dig (and find valuable artifacts!) alongside trained archeologists at a Roman fort along England’s Hadrian’s Wall. Nor did I think I would ever have the privilege of traveling around England, exchanging object-based teaching ideas face-to-face with museum staff at several of the world’s most renowned museums, including the British Museum and Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum.
The Schoen Travelship grant allowed me to dream, and dream big! After 30+ days of funded travel, I returned to my students and colleagues this fall refreshed and rejuvenated with new experience, skills, ideas, and hopes of encouraging their dreams and wonders about the world. I will be forever grateful for the encouragement and support to take new risks and to think big."
2011 Recipient -- Emily Lattin, Country School Grade 1Teacher
2010 Recipient -- Abraham Mills, Middle School Grade 7 Social Studies Teacher
Abe and his wife Kaitlin, who also teaches world history (in Canton, MA) traveled for 49 days during summer 2010 to Israel, India, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand. They traveled the route of the ancient Silk Road,
"This journey was such a rewarding and enriching experience. I learned a great deal about Italy, Israel, India, China, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. By traveling to so many countries and ancient ruins we were able to see how cultures developed simultaneously, and while they were building aqueducts in Rome they were building vast underground tombs in China, and Buddhist caves and stupas in India. We saw how varied geography, religion, and governmental philosophies have shaped the development of these nations. This trip inspired me to tell the story of Cambodian history, and the generosity and strength of the Cambodian people. We researched and wrote a play this fall called "Kampuchea: A Journey into Cambodia." We had guest speakers come visit the cast, and tell their stories and teach them to dance. My photos, artifacts, and stories have already shed light on many of the units we have covered in 7th grade social studies this year. I feel like a better authority on the Ganges River, and the Han tombs, because I have been there myself. I have seen the Boddhi Tree, and touched the Western Wall. I have climbed Masada, and the Great Wall, and I have walked barefoot at the Taj Mahal. This was a journey of a lifetime and my students will be a part of that journey for many years to come."
2009 Recipient-- Jennifer Rudolph & Jody-Lee Salisbury
Jennifer Rudolph, Middle School Grade 6 Social Studies teacher, and Jody-Lee Salisbury, Middle School Grade 8 Science teacher, traveled to Italy and Iceland during the summer of 2009. Their trip, "Geysers, Volcanoes, and Ruins," allowed them to study geographic, geologic, and archaeological wonders of both countries during the summer months. Here is a quote from Jen and Jody about their experience: "The Schoen Family Travelship gave us an unparalleled educational opportunity to make real global connections to both Italy and Iceland. During our travels to these two beautiful countries, we immersed ourselves in the everyday lives of the people, while simultaneously taking time to explore the geology, geography, ancient ruins, and rich cultures of these two very diverse lands. While in Italy we roamed the ruins of Pompeii and strolled along the steaming crater at the top of Mount Vesuvius. We marveled at the beauty of Florence and absorbed ourselves in both the ancient and current cultures of Rome, while residing in a villa in the verdant Italian countryside. Iceland provided a myriad of geologic and geographic learning opportunities which we embarked upon with excitement. We explored the Golden Circle, traipsed across a geothermal field where we saw "Geysir," the geyser for which all other geysers are named, cruised the North Atlantic Ocean on Puffin and Whale Watch Tours, and observed the active volcano of Mount Hekla from a safe distance. While living at 65 degrees north, we truly came to appreciate the meaning of the statement, "The land where the sun never sets." Our journey provided many geological and geographical connections to both the science and social studies curriculums. We look forward to sharing our inspiration and continued curiosity about geology, geography, ancient ruins, and cultures of other countries with our students. This trip was the international experience of a lifetime which we will cherish forever!"
2008 Recipient -- Diana Marshall
Diana Marshall, Country School Grade 1 Teacher, traveled to Japan in the summer of 2008. She stayed with a family in Nagaokakyo to experience total immersion into the Japanese culture and family life while working with a first grade teacher there. She traveled to Tokyo, Nagano, Kyoto, and Osaka and is now working with the first grade team to enrich the unit on Japan that is part of the Grade 1 curricululm. Upon her return, Diana said, "Traveling as the Schoen Family Travelshiip recipient allowed me to experience the Japanese culture in a way that I wouldn't have otherwise. I was able to fully engage in a community to investigate how first graders live. I was able to travel to see different parts of the Japanese culture, the beauty of Mt. Fuji and a Geisha performance, a small town stay with Buddhist monks, the big city of Tokyo, and the history of Kyoto and Hiroshima. This experience has allowed for learning and exploration to jump off of the page and into reality for both my students and myself."
2007 Recipient -- "Team Australila"
The 2007 grant was awarded to a team of four elementary grade teachers. Nan Thompson, Kristin Morrison, Ann Whitney and Susan Carey spent three weeks visiting the continent of Australia this summer. Their objective was to globalize their social studies unit “People Make a Difference”. The teachers sought to understand first hand the diversity in the region’s geography as well as its cultures. They were interested in what students in that part of the world study, particularly biographies. “We read a lot of biogaphies and right now we have a lot from North America, Europe and Asia, but we have no biographies at the second-grade level of people from Australia,” Thompson said before leaving on the trip. The teachers shared their experiences with the faculty and enhanced their lessons through the year with all they have learned.
2006 Recipient -- Margaret Irwin
Margaret Irwin, a high school teacher, was the 2006 fellowship recipient. She spent the summer touring the cuisines of Asia and Europe. She commented, “The vision and generosity of the travelship is truly remarkable. ..The global connections I’ve made will enrich my classroom and will magnify as my students share their experiences with their families and friends.” Click here to view her report.
2005 Recipient -- Barbara Stevens
Barbara Stevens, a fifth grade teacher at Field School, was the first recipient of the Weston Foreign Study/Travel Fellowship program in 2005. The fellowship enabled her to become the first teacher from Weston to visit the Kasiisi School in Uganda. Her visit cemented a ten-year relationship between the Kasiisi School and Field School and led to the Ugandan administrators’ visit to Weston last spring. She said, “Amazing things can happen when a teacher is encouraged to dream. Nothing could have prepared my family for the effect our month in Africa has had and continues to have on us. Our lives will never be quite the same…” The visit was also a unique and significant experience for students, many of whom participated in fund raising for and other interactions with the Kasiisi School as Field School students. Stevens’s visit also made such a deep impression on faculty throughout the district as well as for the Ugandan educators that it led to a reciprocal three-week visit to Weston by seven teachers and administrators from Uganda in the spring of 2007. With financial assistance from the Weston Education Enrichment Fund Committee, these Ugandan educators visited classrooms throughout the district to learn about American educational practices and lived with host families to make their own cultural connections with Americans.