Simon Farrell

Tapestry Charter School (K-12), Buffalo NY

Observe efforts in Belize to preserve and protect the Meso-American Barrier Reef System and its marine diversity as a case study for learning on climate change and how local communities can steward and preserve aquatic resources of The Great Lakes.

Where I've Been

  • Belize City, Belize
  • Belmopan, Belize
  • Palencia, Belize
  • Toledo, Belize

My Fellowship in Images

A school of fish hide behind a large coral growth
Nurse sharks follow divers like dogs, hoping to get fed when divers spear the invasive lionfish.
Despite the fact that this beach is in a national wildlife sanctuary, plastic garbage washes ashore, harming wildlife and destroying the natural beauty.
Educating tourists is a part of SEA's mission.
Diving on the reef was a dream come true!
The UN's Development Programme (UNGP) and Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) are both dealing with the effect of Global Warming on the reef.

Your Personal and Professional Growth

How have your knowledge, skills and capabilities grown?

Experiencing first-hand the dedication of conservationists and diving on the reef they work to conserve has grown my understanding of the threats the ecosystem faces and the steps that can preserve it. I improved my skills as a scuba diver, and also gained insight into how community leaders with motivation can make a meaningful difference. Having the guidance and resources available through organizations like the UN is important, but it is the people who are the true agents of change.

As a result, in what ways will your instructional practice change?

I am going to motivate my students to become agents of change and inspire them to preserve and protect the Great Lakes by mimicking the experience Funds for Teacher’s has provided me. We are going to go on regular fieldwork experiences, meet with experts and explore and investigate the beauty of the waterways we are working to preserve. Meeting with community leaders who preserve the reef system, has taught me that the foundational element of change is the motivation of the people involved

What is the greatest personal accomplishment of your fellowship?

My greatest personal accomplishment was swimming alongside a whale shark, the largest fish in the ocean. These gentle, magnificent giants of the ocean are incredible to behold and deserve every ounce of our respect and protection. I now appreciate the delicate balance between maintaining a multi-million-dollar industry that offers tourists a unique experience and the challenge of trying to preserve and protect whale sharks’ feeding grounds and habitat.

Impact on Your Classroom, School and Community

How will your experiences positively impact student learning in new ways?

I have developed a greater appreciation for the educational impact that can be afforded by experiential learning and I intend to create as many experiential experiences for my students as possible. From visiting water treatment plants to collecting specimens in the field, I will try to create meaningful new ways for my students to learn beyond the confines of the classroom. I appreciate that you can learn that water is wet from books, but you can also learn by getting your feet wet.

What are your plans for working collaboratively with colleagues?

I plan to collaborate closely with my colleagues in the sciences, as much of what my students will be learning is science based. Students will be investigating biology and chemistry as we learn about invasive species and pollution within our water ways. Additionally, several of my colleagues are connected with local organizations that safeguard the Great Lakes and I plan to collaborate with them as we introduce students to these organizations and their missions.

Imagining the Future

How do you envision celebrating of your students’ new learning?

I learned through my experience that the UN funds projects that have: Strategic impact, Sustainability, and Scalability. I am going to use this paradigm with my students as we investigate local projects and develop an initiative to preserve and protect The Great Lakes’ ecosystem. I have realized that the desire to be an agent of change must arise from an internal motivation, and I plan to ignite that desire in my students. Our celebration will be the launch of our own initiative.

Are there issues or challenges in your school, community or the greater world about which you and your students might try to make a difference?

Yes. The Great Lakes region faces many threats from pollution to invasive species of plants and animals, and we are going to investigate several of them and decide upon which one we wish to impact. The goal of all of our work is going to be the implementation of a preservation project. We will share what we have learned, educate others about the threat, and offer steps towards a greater protection of our natural resources. Ideally, our plan will have a sustained impact.

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

I think that I never truly appreciated the power of a motivated individual before I went on this fellowship. Meeting with community leaders and organizations that have grown organically to help preserve the reef system, has taught me that the foundational element of change is the motivation of the people involved. This motivation was born from a love of the reef and a desire to protect it. Motivated by such a passion, these leaders can and do make a difference. Thank you Fund for Teachers!