Your name doesn’t have to be Gates or Zuckerberg to change the world.
Allie Mendelsohn and Karl Owen funded a grant through T2TGlobal to allow two US classroom teachers to travel on a summer Teacher Trip. They chose to name it the Friend of the Math grant in honor of a Guatemalan teacher who befriended numbers during a math workshop.
After reviewing applications, two amazing teachers were selected to spend eight days transforming education in Guayaquil, Ecuador.
What is your favorite part of being a teacher?
Teaching is not easy and constantly changing. I obviously love kids but making a difference, (even to just one) once a year, makes all the hard days matter. Sometimes just believing in yourself and not worrying about failure is all you need to succeed.
How do you inspire your students?
When my students make mistakes, I remind them that the best learning and growth takes place as we work through our uncertainty, frustrations, and discomfort. Together, we learn that effort and struggle are the predecessors of success.
The Esperanza de Bastión school is located in a community originally settled by squatters on the outskirts of Guayaquil. Students are on scholarships funded by an NGO. Heidi partnered with a third-grade teacher, while Danielle kept busy in the sixth grade.
Although Heidi and Danielle’s trip was only one week, this school also houses the T2TGlobal Girls STEM Club through the year. The club’s 36 girls take a field trip each month to experience real-world math.
Danielle and Heidi planned activities to build on what the girls learned during a previous field trip to Guayaquil’s Navy museum. Heidi gave out squares of aluminum foil and handfuls of pennies. In groups, the girls made boats from the foil, floated them in containers of water, and then piled on as many pennies as possible without sinking them. Danielle followed this with a problem-solving task about passengers on lifeboats.
A Teacher Trip like this one can be a meaningful complement to the work other programs are doing day to day. This integration is one way T2TGlobal’s programs have optimal impact.
How many different ways can teachers use a set of digit cards? Since the school cannot afford to purchase many of the supplies that a US classroom would have, Danielle and Heidi were mindful of empowering the teachers with easy-to-replicate tools.
I am a close friend of both Jenny and Chadd McGlone, the founders of T2T, and have enjoyed a front row seat as their dream moved from an interesting, but ambitious, idea to a full-blown, wonderful reality.
About a year ago my husband, Karl, and I decided we wanted to do more than simply send a check each year in support of their project. We weren’t sure what we wanted but we knew it could be something that felt more personal. Then I remembered a story Chadd told over a Thanksgiving dinner several years ago.
He was describing a trip to Guatemala and his work there with an elementary school math teacher. After several long, intense days working on teaching methods and ways of engaging the students it was time to wrap up and talk about what the experience had been like. The Guatemalan teacher, Domingo, said to Chadd,
“Before you came I didn’t like math, but now I am a friend of the math.”
I loved that he was now a friend of the math, maybe especially because I relate as a nervous acquaintance but certainly not a friend of the math!
I looked at the T2T website and learned more about how teachers from the US could travel to a partner country and be partnered with a local educator. We talked to Jenny and Chadd and asked if we could create a scholarship called Friend of the Math and sponsor one teacher per year. They were delighted with the idea and asked what level of involvement we would want in the selection process. Next, we started to work on the details.
Meanwhile, Karl looked at the list of companies his employer would do matching grants with and T2T was one of them. One form later we had doubled our donation. It was literally that easy. His employer has a tab on their website that lists which non-profits and charities they will match donations for and they require a form, then they cut a check and mail it directly to T2T.
The whole process from start to finish could not have been easier or more rewarding. We had some input on who was selected from the many qualified and deserving candidates. We have received multiple updates as the two teachers we funded were notified and prepared for the trip. And we have seen lots of great photos of them hard at work both with their colleagues and the students in the partner countries.
Karl and I could not be happier with how it all went from our early conversations about how to become more involved in this wonderful project to seeing two local teachers, who already do so much for our community, get the opportunity to pursue an interest of theirs while helping even more people. I know I sound like I’m gushing, but it’s hard not to when it’s this easy to help someone out.
T2TGlobal is hugely grateful to Allie and Karl for their gift.
If you would like to create a grant to send a teacher on a T2TGlobal trip, we would love to talk with you!