Today it feels real.
Tomorrow I am embarking on my adventure to Antarctica as a 2016 Grosvenor Teacher Fellow with Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic aboard the National Geographic Explorer. My bag is packed and I am ready for this amazing experience of a lifetime.
The journey actually began about three years ago when I first learned about the Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship. It is the pinnacle of self-directed teacher professional development, combining a love of learning with some of the world’s most exquisite destinations. Of course, I immediately made it my goal to earn a place on the prestigious fellowship roster.
In December of 2014, I was facilitating an International Baccalaureate workshop in Washington, D.C. and planned a few extra days to explore the city since I had never been to our nation’s capital. In the mad dash from the Washington Mall through the Smithsonian Museums, and stopping for a quick picture at the White House we took a moment to visit the National Geographic Museum. I have long been a fan of National Geographic Magazine, and have fond memories of the excitement of their monthly arrival and the hours I spent in awe of the pictures (I am fairly certain I have several boxes of old volumes from the 80s hiding out in my attic). While standing at the museum entrance, shortly after paying for our admission, I noticed a fountain attached to the wall. There were several coins in the fountain, creating a sort of wishing-well effect, so I promptly took out my quarter, wished for my application to be successful and threw it in the marble trough…
I wasn’t selected for the 2015 class of fellows, but in February of 2016, I received one of those phone calls that change your life: I was selected as a 2016 Grosvenor Teacher Fellow and would be traveling to Antarctica in December. Wow. I was really a Grosvenor Teacher Fellow, but it didn’t feel real just yet.
In April, all of the fellows meet in Washington D.C. at National Geographic Headquarters to learn about our responsibilities before, during and after the expedition. It is also an opportunity to meet our shipmates, collaborate about bringing the experience back to our schools and communities, and meet with the experienced team of naturalists who will be joining us on our journey. We were welcomed in the historic Hubbard Hall, first headquarters of the National Geographic Society.
I met Jeanna (from Houston) and Sara (from California) who would be joining me in Antarctica and we became fast friends, ready to share the adventure.
My two days in D.C. (which also included a quick jaunt to the National Mall and a quick wave at the White House) went by in a blur. I learned so much, and returned to my campus armed with information about creating virtual field trips, using my camera more effectively, and a wealth of engaging lesson plan ideas. Still, it didn’t feel real – Antarctica? Really?
Since April, I have been reading and researching and planning. I scoured the stores for base layers and wool socks, and now have a healthy collection nestled comfortably in my travel bag. I have visited with teachers about ways to integrate my experience into their curriculum, and I have a stack of questions my students would like answered.
My bags are packed. My grizzly bear mascot will be my travel buddy. I am even bringing along a book of poetry written by the 5th grade students who will be attending my school next year; an example of the amazing collaborative opportunities this experience provides.
Tomorrow the adventure begins, and today, it finally feels real.
I will be posting about my adventure as I am able. Follow the Daily Expedition Reports from the National Geographic Explorer here.