A Year-End Thank You to Our Galapagos Education Heroes

December 21, 2017

As 2017 winds down, I want all of our Galapagos supporters to share in our appreciation for the dedication and hard work of the Education for Sustainability team that is achieving so much in Galapagos — and for the outstanding generosity of those who make this work possible.

Our Galapagos-based instructional coaches will soon complete year two of the five-year program, and our Advisory Team is involved in heavy retooling activities for “phase two” of the program, when math and science training shifts from Santa Cruz to San Cristóbal, and language arts and social studies shifts from San Cristóbal to Santa Cruz. Over the last couple of weeks, I have had the chance to step back from things a bit and would like to share some of my reflections.

We’re delivering a LOT of professional development! Since April 2016, we have delivered four week-long Teacher Institutes, which represent 200 hours of high-quality, face-to-face teacher professional development, delivered by grade level and subject matter. Institutes have been complimented by over 1,500 classroom coaching sessions and hundreds of professional learning circles, where teachers of similar grades and subjects work together on shared issues and challenges.

Arthur Powell works with Galapagos teachers.

Arthur Powell (Rutgers University/Teachers to Teachers Global) works with teachers on fractions, using Cuisinaire Rods.

We were thrilled to learn recently that Attitudinal Studies reveal significant increases in “grit” (perseverance and passion for long-term goals) and “growth mindset” (the extent to which respondents believe that their abilities can be developed through dedication, hard work and training) among teachers and school directors during the first two years of the program.

Our coaches report that most of the teachers they observe are making efforts to replicate concepts and teaching strategies promoted in the Institutes and Learning Circles and that about 30% of teachers are demonstrating rapid, positive changes in their practice and mindset. 

We’re working with an amazing group of educators. We are privileged to count on the dedication and exceptional talents of Galapagos-based instructional coaches and Advisory Team members in science, math, language arts, social studies, English language and educational leadership. These are seasoned professionals who share a deep commitment to the program and to Galapagos educators. They are also, without exception, truly good people and a joy to work with. While some of their time is compensated, I can’t begin to quantify the time volunteered by all team members.

Diego Roman with Galapagos teachers.

Quito Native Diego Roman (Southern Methodist University) poses with teachers from the Quechua bilingual school on Santa Cruz Islands.

I’d like to give a special shout out to Diego Roman, Coordinator of the Science Team. A native of Quito, I met Diego over 20 years ago when he was an undergraduate student and I was working at Zamorano University in Honduras; we reconnected in 2013 while he was completing his PhD at Stanford University’s School of Education. Diego has been a close partner in the design and implementation of the program since its inception and has formed a talented network of program advisors; many of them associated with his home institution, Southern Methodist University. Thanks, too, to Chadd McGlone and Teachers-to-Teachers Global for their help in program design and connecting the program with a team of world-class math educators.

At the end of this blog I have included a list of advisory team members who have participated in program planning and/or multiple teacher Institutes.

In Galapagos, Miriam Chacon (Lead Instructional Coach/Program Coordinator) and Sandra Tapia (Instructional Coach) couldn’t be better matched to the needs of our program and the teachers in Galapagos. Both have unique professional backgrounds and interpersonal skills that have allowed them to gain the deep trust and respect of the local educational community. Miriam and Sandra are among the most experienced instructional coaches in Ecuador and are forming a cadre of over 40 local coaches to carry on their work beyond the five-year program timeframe.

None of this work would be possible without a committed and visionary group of generous donors. The most recent good news on the funding front comes from the Tinker Foundation, which just confirmed a three-year grant of $600,000 to fund the next three years of the Literacy component of the program! This generous support follows a two-year grant from Tinker in 2016 that allowed us to design and launch the first two years of the Literacy training.

Our first education donor was Gretchen Bauta, who called GC in the summer of 2010 following her family’s visit to Galapagos during which a naturalist guide told her that an investment in education would be the best way for her to contribute to the long-term conservation of the islands. Gretchen’s three-year commitment of seed funding, which has been followed by ongoing support, helped us take the necessary first steps.

In 2014, long-term Galapagos friend Judie Muggia (Galapagos Direct) co-funded the Listening Phase Needs Assessment with The Bay and Paul Foundations (who has also funded much of our monitoring and evaluation work) and has since funded our lead coach and program coordinator.  At about this time, long-time donor Kirke Lathrop significantly increased his support of our education work and has since played a leadership role in supporting this program and other aspects of GC’s work.

Since that time, additional essential support has been provided by individuals (Ken and Diane Saladin, Carol Piras, Regina Colasacco, Elizabeth Redsecker and Alan Chung, Kathleen Diamond, Elizabeth Javens, Sally Kleberg, Katie Burdick, Emily Shepherd, Janice Swab, Judy and Normand Smith, Cleve and Rae Hickman, Kathrine Knez-Phillips, Randall and Sally Knight, Edward and Judy Schwartz) and foundations and organizations (Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic Fund, Galapagos Conservation Trust, Celebrity Xpedition Fund, the Philecology Foundation, Moritz Foundation, Schaffner Family Foundation and the Gallagher Family Fund).

I wish I had the words to ensure that all these donors truly appreciate the impact of their vision and generosity.

My last words of gratitude go out to Ecuador’s Ministry of Education, whose ambitious 10 Year Education Plan, launched in 2006, provided the framework and vision for deep educational change in Galapagos. The Ministry remains an essential intellectual partner in our work and invests significant resources in program logistics and mobilization of teachers in Galapagos (travel, food and lodging) during the Teacher Institutes. 

In early 2018, I will share more specifics of what we have experienced and achieved during the first two years of the program. But for now, I just want to say thank you to all of those who have made this progress possible!

Alejandro Ramos with Galapagos teachers.

Alejandra Ramos (Southern Methodist University) works with elementary science teachers at the Tomás de Berlanga School.

Members of the Education for Sustainability Advisory Teams:

Educational Leadership: Frank Hernandez (Southern Methodist University), Elizabeth Murakami (University of North Texas), Andrew Sherman (Gamut Education), David Wells (Global School Consulting Group).

English Language: Susan Huss-Lederman (University of Wisconsin, Whitewater), Paige Ware (Southern Methodist University), María Jose Reichenbach (Tomás de Berlanga School) and Ashleigh Kilngman (Governing Council of Galapagos).

Science: K.C. Busch (North Carolina State), Nick Cabot (Oregon State), Cata Carrasco (Consultant), María Fernanda Davila (Consultant), Jessica Duchicela (Universidad de las Fuerzas Armadas-ESPE), Greses Joehnk (Stanford University), Dustin Miller (Dallas Arboretum, Kathryn Ribay (Stanford University), Diego Román (Southern Methodist University, Dara Rossi (Southern Methodist University, Adrian Soria (consultant) and Nestor Restrepo (Dallas ISD).

Math: Francisco Alarcón (Indiana University of Pennsylvania and T2T Global), Harold Asturias (UC Berkeley), Manuela Cea-Poblete (T2T Global). Lawrence Clark (University of Maryland), Alice Cook (University of Maryland), Lucia Davila (T2T Global), Hans Del Cid (T2T Global), Ron Eglash (Rensselear Polytechnic Institute), Linda Gojak (NCTM – Past President and T2T Global), Terry Goodman (Central Missouri University and T2T Global), Rodrigo Gutierrez (University of Maryland), Shelly Jones (Central Connecticut St. University), Ali Kendall (Rutgers University), Katie Korsyn (T2T Global), Kim Leong-Morrow (First Vice President, NCSM), Maisha Moses (Young People’s Project), Sara Moore (ORIGO Education), Chadd McGlone (Executive Director, T2T Global), Carolina Napp-Avelli (University of Maryland), Arthur Powell (Rutgers and T2T Global), Beatriz Quintos (University of Maryland), Rick Scott (New Mexico State University and T2T Global), Balvir Singh (Rutgers), Sheila Westbrook (Mississippi University for Women).

Language Arts/Social studies: Heny Agredo (Dallas ISD), Cynthia Baeza (Dallas ISD) Ana Gonell (Dallas ISD), Ximena Jurado (Consultant), Alejandra Ramos (Southern Methodist University), Karla del Rosal (Southern Methodist University), Sandra Fierro (Consultant), Zaynab Gates (UC San Diego), Jaeyoung No (Garland ISD), Paul Polanco (Southern Methodist Universtiy), Isabela Patiño (Consultant), Justin Scoggin (Tomás de Berlanga School).

Learn more about the Education for Sustainability Program in Galapagos.

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  1. You are doing a good job for education sustainability. Our professional life develops from education. Teachers making the best efforts for best teaching strategies. I believe abilities can be developed through dedication, hard work and training that teachers provide us.
    Brandon Steven

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