Kelly Stanton

Creek View Elementary School, Maylene AL

Join a teacher expedition of the Galapagos Islands and Quito, Ecuador, bringing artifacts and knowledge back to three Title I schools and enhancing the "Leaving Our Legacy" unit that challenges students to solve real-world problems.

Where I've Been

  • Floreana Island, Ecuador
  • Isabela Island, Ecuador
  • Las Grietas, Ecuador
  • Puerta Ayora , Ecuador
  • Quito, Ecuador
  • Santa Cruz Island, Ecuador

My Fellowship in Images

At the Charles Darwin Research Station learning about repopulation of tortoises
Sierra Negra Volcano last erupted in June 2018
Delicious dinner on Restaurant Street on Santa Cruiz
I saw sea turtles every time I snorkeled! They were beautifully amazing!
Snorkeling with a marine iguana was fascinating!
This curious, playful sea lion rode the waves in with us while we kayaked on Isabela Island.

Igniting Personal and Professional Growth

What changed as a result of your fellowship? Why was it vital for you to pursue this particular opportunity/experience? What learning gaps (yours and/or your students’) were/will be filled as a result of your fellowship?

As a result of this once in a lifetime opportunity to explore the Galapagos Islands, I am now a more enthusiastic and passionate learner. I am more curious about the natural world around us. I am excited to bring stories and photographs of my travels to my students. When I teach my students about land formation, animals and habitats, geography, and taking care of our environment, it will be from my exciting first-hand experiences.

How do you see your teaching evolving after your fellowship? Your students’ learning?

My enthusiasm for learning about and protecting wildlife will be evident in my teaching. I will bring first-hand experiences to my teaching. I have already had the opportunity to show my students my photographs and videos from my tour of the equator when teaching about our globe. I am very excited to show my class the diverse habitats of the Galapagos and how humans have impacted the ecosystem there. I also hope to spark a passion in my students for taking responsibility for our environment.

What were some unplanned or unexpected experiences or outcomes of your fellowship?

I was truly blown away by the breathtaking beauty and diversity of all 3 islands! The wildlife was not afraid of people, so we were able to get very close to giant tortoises, sea lions, marine iguanas, sea turtles, lava lizards, birds, and sharks. Hiking up an active volcano and seeing the result of an eruption just one year ago was fascinating! I was unexpectedly delighted by the delicious, fresh seafood that was prepared and presented with such pride by the local people.

Impacting Your Classroom, School and Community

How will your students learn differently because of your new knowledge or skills?

My students will learn from my photographs, videos, stories, and excitement. They will learn how humans can impact the balance of nature, such as when a nonnative species is introduced into an environment, and about the efforts people are making to protect and restore that balance. When my students learn about habits and land formations, my enthusiasm will be contagious.

What specific events, projects or deliverables will your students experience related to your fellowship?

My students will participate in our school's campus cleanup in order to keep trash from going into our local fresh water sources. My students will research about conservation efforts, both locally and in the Galapagos, and then share their learning with their own families. My class will also monitor the giant tortoise conservation projects as well as ways to protect marine life. They will learn that they can make a difference in our world!

How, specifically, will your fellowship extend beyond your classroom? (e.g. families, school-at-large, afterschool groups, surrounding community, colleagues, etc.)

My FFT team, Tortoise Trio has already shared our experiences in Ecuador with our 400+ Facebook followers. The three of us teach in 4 schools in 2 school districts, so we are excited to share our learning with our schools and communities. I have already shared some of my stories, photos, and videos with my colleagues and people in the community. I hope to inspire some of them to continue their own learning by exploring our world themselves.

Inspiring the Future

Why was this opportunity transformative for your teaching on a macro-level?

I am forever changed as a result of this experience! I have always enjoyed learning, but now I realize that learning, experiencing new things, and exploring the world myself is truly amazing. Learning alongside other passionate teachers during this trip also impacted my outlook on how to best teach my students. I want my students to experience that excitement themselves. I want my students to know that the world is a big and exciting place and they can make an impact on it!

Why do students benefit from this type of teacher learning?

I completed National Board Certification last year, and both of these experiences taught me that looking for ways to improve myself makes me a more effective teacher. I want my students to realize that learning doesn't just happen in the classroom, but out in the world and in our life experiences. Even though this is my 20th year teaching, I am beginning this school year with renewed energy and excitement! I have already loved sharing some of my stories with my students in these first few weeks.

How would you describe to a friend or grant funder the fundamental ways in which your fellowship changed your personal and/or professional perspective?

I am incredibly grateful for this experience. It is sometimes easy to get into a routine of daily teaching and forget that our world is a big and fascinating place. Looking back at my photos, videos, and journal entries from each day of our journey has kept my memories of our adventure fresh in my mind. Now I will not just tell my students that they can do hard things, I can SHOW them that I have done hard (and very exciting!) things! My students will learn to dream big!