Visiting Costa Rica with a Fund for Teachers Grant

Visiting Costa Rica with a Fund for Teachers Grant

Dec 19, 2012| by administrator

Since 2001, Fund for Teachers has awarded over $17.8 million in grants to more than 5,000 teachers. In 2013, Kathryn Elkins will take her 10th trip to Costa Rica with Holbrook Travel. In the following interview, Kathryn talks about what inspired her to step outside of the classroom with the help of a grant from Fund for Teachers.

Kathryn Elkins

Profession: Eighth grade science teacher

Sapulpa Junior High School, Sapulpa, OK

Best Asset/Feature in My Classroom: My display of student models, from junk cars to futuristic land formations.

Favorite Teacher and why: Dr. Will Focht at Oklahoma State University. He provided the encouragement and avenue for me to broaden my educational experience and guided me to pursue a PhD in Education.

I always wanted to be: a marine biologist, orthopedic surgeon, or an astronaut.

I'm reading: A Framework for K-12 Science by National Research Council, Tropical Nature: Life and Death in the Rainforest of Central and South America by Adrian Forsyth and Ken Miyata, and The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan.

Best lesson I’ve learned: For every action there is an equal and opposite I act will determine how my students react.

My biggest hope is: for my students to step out of their comfort zone, explore the world and appreciate the beauty of nature.

My inspiration is: providing my students and other teachers opportunities they would not normally have.

Before teaching, I: was a stay at home mom with my son and daughter, a medic, and an Army Reserve officer.

I teach because: it provides me with the platform to share my experiences and excitement of the sciences with young minds and encourage them to always be curious.

With my FFT grant, I: joined a National Science Teacher Association ten-day field study in Costa Rica. I walked in the humid rainforest examining an abundance of flora and fauna up close, collected water samples, planted trees for a reforestation project, viewed and compared current research at local biological stations, observed the impact of symbiotic relationships among species, participated in crocodile capturing with Dr. Brady Barr of National Geographic, analyzed seismology data of an active volcano, zip-lined through the rainforest canopy, and so many other wonderful life changing moments. Since my fellowship, I’ve returned every summer leading environmental educational tours for secondary students, university students, and teachers.


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Fund for Teachers enriches the personal and professional growth of teachers by recognizing and supporting them as they identify and pursue opportunities around the globe that will have the greatest impact on their practice, the academic lives of their students and on their school communities.