Anna Myers is a teacher in the Lincoln Academy Alternative Education Program. She traveled to the Galapagos in the summer of 2019 with help from a grant from the EE Ford Foundation that supports Lincoln Academy faculty enrichment.
In July 2019, I participated in a 9-day trip to the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador. The trip was organized by the nonprofit GEEO, which offers travel programs for educators. It was funded by EE Ford/Burns Foundation Faculty Grant and private donors who support Alternative Education.
The trip invigorated and strengthened my teaching. I learned a tremendous amount about the history and science of evolution, as well as ecology and the environment. By learning about the research being conducted there, I enhanced my knowledge of the scientific process. While I have always been interested in the environment and teaching about it, I was inspired by the beauty and creatures of the Galapagos. I’ll always remember the giant tortoises, turtles, blue footed boobies, sea lions, sharks and marine iguanas.
I also gleaned ideas and inspiration from other educators. We were a diverse group. For example, there were three elementary school teachers from rural Alabama, a middle school teacher from Toronto, and a director of an Americorps program in New York City. Despite different backgrounds, we were all interested in bringing new knowledge to teaching. Furthermore, when people spend all day together and conquer challenges, relationships develop. Those friendships were a highlight of the trip.
The trip was not a luxurious vacation. We were exploring from early in the morning until the sun set and didn’t always have the comforts of home, like warm showers and familiar foods. While I always hope to become stronger and more compassionate with life experience, the adventure provided opportunities to grow and gain new perspectives. In supporting students to become resilient people with good character, I constantly push them to get out of their comfort zones. I think it’s important that I make the same demands of myself. In doing so in the Galapagos, I hope I’ve become a better teacher and mentor.