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Toyota pushes environmental education with travel program for teachers and school librarians

Toyota has chosen 26 American teachers and school librarians from 20 states to go to Costa Rica Nov. 19-Dec. 3 through the Toyota International Teacher Program. The aim is to help teachers and librarians inspire American students in their own schools by becoming "more involved in environmental, cultural and world studies," Toyota says.

The program is entering its13th year and has sent more than 650 U.S. educators to Costa Rica, Galapagos, Japan and South Africa. On site, they complete a two-week study tour, learning about the environmental challenges each country faces.

Here is the list of chosen participants:

1. Loris Chen, Fair Lawn, N.J.
2. Sandra Childs, Portland, Ore.
3. Margaret Collier, Orlando, Fla.
4. Emily Dietzschold, Lincoln, Neb.
5. Timothy Dobbins, Spring Valley, Calif.
6. John Elfrank-Dana, New York, N.Y.
7. Kelly Foss, Rehoboth, Mass.
8. Robert Hanchett, Houston, Texas.
9. Angela Hemingway, Meridian, Idaho.
10. Katie Hook, Portsmouth, R.I.
11. Tammy Hyder, Newnan, Ga.
12. Tracy Marcello, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
13. Christine Mihealsick, Cedar Park, Texas.
14. Valerie Mulé, Mount Airy, N.C.
15. Paulo Oemig, Las Cruces, N.M.
16. Charles Palmer, Mills River, N.C.
17. Joshua Parker, Chicago.
18. Ann Pearson, Cadott, Wisc.
19. Kimberly Pitts, Cordova, Tenn.
20. Jeremiah Potter, San Diego.
21. Alyxandra Price, Montgomery, Ala.
22. Bhavna Rawal, Houston.
23. Gregory Regalado, Bartlett, Ill.
24. Valerie Smith, Vevay, Ind.
25. Erin Stephens, Issaquah, Wash.
26. Susan Tate; Montague, Mich.

The program is funded by Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. and administered by the Institute of International Education.

“The Toyota International Teacher Program provides unique opportunities for educators to strengthen the education they provide to their students," said Dr. Allan E. Goodman, IIE president and CEO. "The program allows students to travel and interact with other cultures through their teachers’ experiences, fostering new learning opportunities for thousands of students.”

Toyota says in literature it hopes its International Teacher Program advances "global connectedness in U.S. schools and communities."

The specially selected teachers and librarians "are excellent representatives of their profession," said Michael Rouse, vice president of philanthropy, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. "We are honored to support them through this study program that explores the importance of environmental stewardship both at home and abroad.”

The program will let the chosen ones explore environmental and cultural preservation, biodiversity and sustainability through a variety of site visits, discussions, lectures and hands-on activities. Participants will meet with local experts, visit schools and museums and experience the rainforest first-hand.

During their travels to San Jose, Guácimo, Sarapiquí and La Fortuna, the educators will participate in a variety of activities that highlight the relationship between Costa Rican history, culture and the environment. They will tour innovative sustainable agriculture projects at Earth University and engage in service projects at La Selva Biological Station, one of the most studied tropical rain forests in the world.

Experts will download the Americans on local development, agronomy and conservation practices. Other activities include learning about research methods at Earth University and visiting rural Costa Rican primary and secondary schools to observe classes and interact with teachers and students. All activities are aimed at exploring the role of environmental education and spreading environmental awareness.

Selection criteria for the 26 educators included professional qualifications, evidence of interest in international education and feasibility of incorporating the study experience into the curriculum. Teachers must be a U.S. citizen, employed full time as a secondary classroom teacher or teacher-librarian (grades 7-12) and have a minimum of three years of teaching experience.

You can reach TN's Hawke Fracassa at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @HawkeFracassa.

Image source: Toyota


gericormier (not verified)    October 17, 2011 - 3:06AM

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