Bellefonte teacher working toward global education
By CAROL TERRACINA HARTMAN
BELLEFONTE — One Bellefonte Area teacher doesn’t want her school to “go global,” she wants education to “be global.”
All the time.
And that, thanks to a recent fellowship, is her job.
English teacher Ashlie Crosson recently completed a year-long fellowship that saw her complete intensive coursework, workshop with educators nationwide, and finally spend 16 days abroad in a field classroom working and experiencing education in an environment far different from Bellefonte High School.
“The biggest goal of all of it is just to figure out how can we make global education an inherent part of what we do on a daily basis,” Crosson said. “We do our students a disservice if we restrict knowledge to the four walls of our classroom.”
Crosson was one of 76 teachers nationwide accepted into the U.S. Department of State’s Teachers for Global Classroom. A BHS teacher since 2012, she says she applied as soon as she met eligibility requirements: five years of full-time teaching and employment upon return. A letter of support from Superintendent Michelle Saylor accompanied her application
The program included an intensive online course that resembled a compressed graduate class and a two-day seminar in Washington, D.C. that permitted Fellows to invite one administrator: she chose Principal Mike Fedisson.
“It’s a great way to get administrators to buy in,” she said, explaining that the workshop offered Fedisson a way to learn about the program.
She also networked with alums of the program and professionals in the field, gathering valuable information on how to translate all she is learning into daily classroom life.
The State Department’s influence comes in the choice of countries: Fellows aren’t placed in tourist destinations, rather in countries in which the U.S. is trying to build bridges and relationships. The current cycle features Morocco, Senegal, India, Indonesia, Peru and Colombia.
While abroad, Fellows are encouraged to develop research questions; Crosson says she pondered, “what does it mean to be educated?”
“When I teach, it isn’t facts and statistics and memorizations. It’s knowing how to collaborate in this huge, interconnected world we have going on here,” she said. “Here in Bellefonte, when I teach, it’s about having empathy … and thinking outside the box.”
An a-ha moment for her, she says, is recognizing the privilege that comes in being American and a native English speaker in the global marketplace.
“Most people don’t realize that,” she said.
While in the program, she was required to keep a daily blog. Upon completion, she is tasked with building a global education website linked to the district after program approval where all teachers can find a “compendium of resources” – from lessons to professional development to research materials.
The high school’s travel program, seeing students travel most recently to Germany, Italy and the Galapagos Islands, is a good start, Crosson said. The next step is making global education more interconnected.
“We have things in the works – for classroom, teacher training – in each aspect,” she said.
“And that was my job!”