Fund for Teachers helping educators travel abroad for extra education


After six years teaching English at Houston School of Performing and Visual Arts, Judith Switek wanted to bring a creative writing program to her students. She got the inspiration and tools miles away from the Bayou City by studying in Prague for two weeks with a renowned writer.

"I came back with this renewed spirit and a sense of enthusiasm, and remembering how much I love writing," she said.

The $5,000 tab for this overseas professional development came courtesy of Fund for Teachers, which is now taking applications.

"We are giving the teachers who already are really good at their jobs the opportunity to be better," said Fund for Teachers executive director Karen Webb.

Fund for Teachers expects about 3,500 teachers will apply for grants this year from public and private schools. And one of the best features of their grants is the teachers get to tell them what kind of educational experience would be best for them and which country they should go to.

Some teachers apply in teams or in tandem, as Oscar Perez did with a fellow HISD teacher. The French teacher had never been to France. Three weeks of studying there transformed his career and curriculum.

"I'd been teaching eight years French, but this is probably the year in which I have enjoyed every minute of it. I do like it. I do love my profession, but this year, every single class I bring something new," Perez said.

At a time when school districts often lack resources to pay for professional development, Fund for Teachers is improving our children's education by further educating our teachers.

The grant deadline is January 30.

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