Going home and getting global

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My hometown, site of this year’s Global Education Forum.

Philadelphia is my hometown, and though I no longer live in the area,  its proud, gritty sense of character appeals to me. I still cheer for the Flyers and love the LOVE statue. When the opportunity came to return to my hometown as a presenter at the Global Education Forum, I didn’t need to think twice.


Krista at the Global Education Forum in Philadelphia.

The forum brought together teachers, administrators, and thought leaders from all over to discuss best practices in global education. Craig Kielburger and Heidi Hayes-Jacobs inspired with keynote addresses that explored the possibilities for engaging students as thinker and doers, examining perspective and taking action to improve their world.


From Craig Kielburger’s presentation: the traits we want our students to have.

Through the generosity of IREX, several alumni of the Teachers for Global Classrooms were able to travel to the forum and host workshops for other teachers about how to globalize instruction. Sara Damon of Stillwater, Minnesota, Faith Ibarra of Ashburn, Virginia, and I collaborated on our workshop, “Motivating Students and Staff to Take Action on Global Issues.” I was delighted to share my school’s Middle Years Exploration into the topic of poverty, a starting point for future service learning activities. (To check out the exploration, you can join our Google Classroom using code gcempu ). 


Sara Damon presenting at the Global Education Forum.

Nothing motivates and inspires quite like connecting with other passionate educators. Thank you, IREX for the opportunity to attend the Global Education forum this year!


Summer adventures

These last few nights, there’s enough crisp in the air that we can sit out on the porch, watching the sun set behind the crape myrtle. Teachers returned to school last week to prepare for the school year. Our school population has grown enough to merit a huge addition, and over half of the staff moved to new digs, including me. My new office is small and bright, and desperately in need of some wall décor and plant life. Summer is nearly over, and oh, what a summer it was!

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My new office, looking spartan.

 The day after students finished, when most teachers were still finishing up with packing and submitting grades, I was on a plane to Orlando to attend the Korean War Veterans Digital History Teachers’ Conference. So soon after the tragic events in Orlando, I couldn’t help but connect current events to the historical ones we learned about at the conference. Thoughts of lives cut short, of divisions and community, of tremendous bravery and selflessness…the highlight of the conference was the opportunity to speak to several Korean War veterans, now in their 80s, and hear their stories.


Memorial to the Pulse Victims, Orlando


Later in the summer, I spent ten days on a grand sweep of the Southwestern United States with my husband and stepsons.


Zion National Park



The Narrows at Zion



Bryce Canyon National Park



Bryce Canyon



Mesa Verde National Park




Pueblo Cultural Center, Albuquerque


ABQ Biopark, Albuquerque


The Grand Canyon




 The best part of the journey was seeing through the eyes of my stepsons many of the same places that had captivated me as a young child. My parents had the wisdom and endurance to crisscross the country multiple times with three young children in a station wagon, toting a pop up camper. As the National Park Service celebrates its 100th anniversary, I remember the diverse and beautiful places I had the opportunity to see as a child and an adult.


First time visiting the Grand Canyon


 And now I start a new school year with a continued commitment to bring the world to our students, with same can-do spirit that my parents embraced over 30 years ago. Here’s to a year full of adventure, discovery, and joy!


American oddities

My adorable Italian cousin Valentina and her sweetheart Paolo visited the United States for the first time this month.


Here are a few American things that they found fascinating and unique.

1. Foaming hand soap. Paolo even bought a bottle to take home.


2. Grape jelly Valentina had some on her toast every morning. She said that jam is common in Italy, but not jam made of grapes.


3. Chinese takeout food – even the greasy, salty, nutritionally devoid kind from the places with food photos on the wall.


4. Squirrels. They must have taken a hundred photos of squirrels scampering around DC and Maryland.


5. Drip-style coffee makers. Paolo naturally brought his own coffee maker and coffee to the States, since Americans really can’t be trusted to make proper coffee. Nevertheless, he and Valentina were impressed by the drip coffee process, if not the product.


I wonder what items and events I’ll find to be unique and impressive when I travel to Asia this summer?


Gullah Culture on the Sea Islands

Penn Center painting

The South Carolina Sea Islands are remarkably scenic: giant live oaks curtained with Spanish moss, shimmering water fringed by marsh grass. They are also home to the unique, rich Gullah culture. The Gullah people are descendants of African slaves who live in the Low Country of Florida, Georgia, and  South Carolina. In these isolated areas, they developed their own language and traditions. Sights of those traditions still pepper the landscape: stands selling seagrass baskets and local produce, tiny churches, cafes serving Gullah cuisine.

Penn Center baskets

Penn School

Penn School was established in 1862 by two Northern women, Laura Towne and Ellen Murray, to educate former slaves. It served as a school until its closing in 1948, and is now Penn Center, a museum and community center. Dr. King visited Penn Center during the 1960s to help local people campaign for civil rights. It’s still active in community outreach, offering camps, classes, meetings, and heritage programs to share the history of the Gullah people and improve life in the local area.

Penn School, St. Helena

Penn School

I was touched reading Laura Towne’s thoughts about the value her students at Penn School placed on their education. The worst thought they could imagine was missing a day of school!

Everywhere pride in the school’s legacy and the long history of the Gullah people was evident – in objects they created and in the stories of a resilient, creative people.


Savannah smiles

Our Savannah rental was a restored freedman’s cottage from the 1870s, located near Forsyth Park. We loved the light-filled space, decorated with local art and antiques.

Freedman's Cottage, Savannah

Freedman's Cottage, Savannah

Freedman's Cottage, Savannah

Dee of Savannah Bike Tours led us through the highlights of Savannah, from the river to the park, with some Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil locations in the mix.

Bike tour!

Mike with Dee, our tour leader

Stately Savannah

Forsyth fountain

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At Forsyth Fountain

Savannah Gate

Tybee Island, just twenty minutes from Savannah, delighted us with its wide beach and hometown feel – mostly small houses rather than high-rises.

Tybee time

Tybee beach

Tybee pier

Tybee beach

Tybee pavilion

We ate well in Savannah. A favorite was B Matthews Eatery, where we spent a memorable evening devouring luscious seafood dishes.

Mike at B. Matthews