HomeRural Teacher CorpsIllinois Teacher's Travels Add Global Perspective

Illinois Teacher's Travels Add Global Perspective

Meredith P_picSpanish teacher Meridith Reddick pictured with Oakland High School Principal Steve Brockman.Spanish teacher Meridith Reddick begins her day at Kansas, Illinois High School, where she teaches three classes; Spanish I, Spanish II, and a combined Spanish III and IV.  She then jumps in her car, drives 11 miles to Oakland High School, has a short break, and repeats the three-class routine.  For six years, Meridith completed her day by coaching the Oakland Junior High and High School Scholastic Bowl Team.

This kind of daily grind might drive some to early retirement, but Meridith, a graduate of Eastern Illinois University, remains an enthusiastic teacher and lifelong learner.  In fact, a Master’s degree thesis project on the impact of school busing led her to what she hopes will be a life-changing experience.

“When I was doing my research at Eastern, I came across The Rural School and Community Trust’s website and its studies on the impact of student busing.  I registered for Rural Policy Matters, and through that I learned about the Rural Trust Global Teacher Fellowship Program,” Reddick recalled.

The Rural Trust Global Teacher Fellowship program annually awards up to 25 fellowships to support the professional and personal development of rural teachers. The awards (up to $5,000 for individual teachers and $10,000 for a team of two or more teachers) support teachers’ participation in self-designed summer learning experiences and a two-day place-based learning institute in the fall. Teachers are encouraged to center their learning in an international travel and study experience, out of which they develop interdisciplinary, place-based learning curricula aligned with their specific state and local content standards.  The Fellows then convene for a fall gathering of fellowship and sharing.

Meridith explained her interest in the program:  “I never was able to travel abroad as a student, which I really need to be the very best teacher I can be.  Through my trip and experiences in Mexico, I hope to improve my oral fluency.”

Reddick’s Fellowship will allow her to spend five weeks in Guanajuato, Mexico, where she will participate in a Spanish immersion project via don Quijote’s in-country Spanish Language Courses.   She will also live with a host family and have an opportunity to experience a wide range of authentic-cultural activities.

According to Meridith, “Lot’s of historically significant and revolutionary people came from the Guanajuato region,” and she added, “I look forward to learning more and integrating this historical knowledge into my teaching.”

Reddick truly is a one of kind teacher.  She is the only Oakland High School (86 students) teacher to have a shared appointment with Kansas High School ( 112 students)—although the two schools do collaborate on athletics.  But Meridith’s uniqueness is not limited to the nature of her position; her willingness to take risks and engage in personal growth is exemplary in its own right.

Stay tuned as the Center for Midwestern Initiatives will virtually follow Meridith to Mexico through her Fellowship blog.  For more information on The Rural School and Community Trust’s Global Teacher Fellowship program, go to http://www.globalteacherfellowship.ruraledu.org/.