It’s official!

I’m feeling so incredibly grateful as I prepare for this new adventure. I get to spend six months in the United Kingdom through the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching! After many weeks of grueling essay writing and editing, an interview with the US-UK Fulbright Commission, and the obsessive checking of my emails  as I waited  for a decision from Fulbright….I got it! When I found out, there were tears, cheers and many phone calls. First of course to the most patient and giving husband on the planet, mine.

Thanks for taking an interest in my newest professional and personal endeavor. I am an  art teacher in New Jersey in the United States for students ages 3-13. I am lucky to be working with highly dedicated teachers, a fantastic art committee of parent volunteers, and hundreds of amazing kids with whom I get to make art everyday.

We are a small school and many of the students spend their first 9 years together before leaving for high school. Our community is only a couple miles from a large river and we are surrounded by farms. It’s a beautiful suburban/rural area about an hour and a half from New York City.

As an artist, I have always been drawn to traveling. I have found the greatest creative inspiration from my time exploring other cultures and making time to improve my own artistic skills. As an art teacher, I encourage students to explore the world through looking at and making art.  I’ve taken my students on trips to Europe and taught art at an international school in Athens,  Greece.

I came across the Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching Program while I was looking for professional development opportunities. I applied to the U.S. Department of State and Department of Foreign and Cultural Affairs to explore ways in which art teachers can use the visual arts to help alleviate stress and address critical character development issues.   I was given a Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching and an adviser at the University College of London’s Institute of Education! I am already enjoying the exciting benefits of joining the Fulbright community through all of the exciting network connections to people around the world who are pursuing similar education inquiries.  Once I move to the London area I will be visiting and observing schools throughout the U.K., attending conferences, and experiencing as much of the new culture as I can with my husband and son. I am already excited about sharing what I learn with my D.T.S. students and staff. My students have already given me a list of the British candy they’d like me to bring back. How’s that for a research incentive lesson?

Why the United Kingdom?

I am concerned about the rising stress level among our students. Studies have shown that both the United States and the United Kingdom rank among the highest in childhood stress which is directly linked to increases in bullying. There are many questions regarding the root causes of this epidemic, including pressures around more test scores in student evaluation, economic and cultural stresses and other factors.   Both countries are also experiencing similar socio-economic stresses related to class, immigration and long working hours among parents. But the most compelling reason why the U.K. educational system should be most beneficial to explore is because they have been where we’re going. Since the Brexit turmoil, U.K. schools have undergone a crisis in peer relations. People have become very vocal and allowed or encouraged by the media to be quite bigoted or use a xenophobic tone. That is encouraging adults to speak unguarded in front of young people.  I would like to visit schools who can share their experiences and lessons that have been effective, especially in using the visual arts to express and heal through messaging. Art has been proven to save communities around the world when people work together and share a vision.

 

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