HISD Spanish teacher wins Fulbright

April 29, 2008 4:48:09 PM PDT
Briarmeadow Middle School Spanish teacher Kate Harris is in for the experience of a lifetime as a Fulbright teacher in Mexico while her HISD middle school becomes a Fulbright Teacher Exchange school, hosting her counterpart from Mexico. Harris is the only teacher from Texas selected for this prestigious program. Harris will be "exchanging" with a teacher in Mexico City to teach English. Litsea Guzman will be coming from Mexico to Briarmeadow to teach Spanish. (Harris teaches Spanish here and Guzman teaches English in Mexico.) Harris and Briarmeadow Principal Peter Heinze will travel to Denver for training on May 10.

"I am extremely interested in experiencing the educational process of another country, and I know that this will enrich my life and my teaching," said Harris.

As part of the application process, Harris had to not only lay out her education credentials but also write multiple essays about her teaching philosophy, how she would use the program to enrich her teaching, and what interested her in her subject area and the Fulbright program.

Based on those applications, Harris interviewed with a panel of four professors at the University of Houston. She also interviewed in Spanish. The panel was impressed with Harris' essays, yet they were unsure if she would receive the Fulbright because she is only a third-year teacher; it seemed more likely that it would go to more experienced teachers.

Part of the selection process for a Fulbright involves the countries that each applicant selects. Harris chose, in this order, Chile, Peru, and Mexico. Many teachers were interested this year in South America, but not many selected Mexico. Harris believes she was chosen partly because of her desire to work in Mexico.

"I am very thankful to have received such an opportunity," said Harris. "This program is a complete exchange, and will be beneficial to both the teachers and the students involved. Ms. Guzman and I plan to be in constant contact with each other, helping each other with our respective students, and our students, too, will be able to interact with each other. It will be a true cultural exchange."

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