published Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Foundation offers teachers $96,630 for summer travel

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Teacher travel plans
Teacher travel plans

Anthony Henderson is hitting the music circuit this summer, but instead of Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza, he'll be in the United Kingdom studying pipe and drum players and visiting Scotch-Irish folk museums.

He'll even get $5,000 to help.

Henderson is the band teacher at Soddy-Daisy Middle School and one of 27 Hamilton County teachers to receive grants to pay for summer travel around the world. The teachers applied for the grant money by demonstrating how they can take what they learn over the summer back to the classroom.

The excursions are paid for by the nonprofit group Fund for Teachers, which gave the money to the local Public Education Foundation. It is the first year of their partnership.

The PEF received 83 "really, really excellent" trip proposals, said Fund for Teachers program manager Perrin Worrell. Individuals can receive travel grants of up to $5,000, and teams can receive up to $10,000. All told, the FFT has allocated $96,630 to Hamilton County teachers.

For Henderson, that means taking his students back to their roots.

"Lots of Appalachian settlers were Scotch-Irish," he said. "That's the music of our ancestors."

When he returns from his trip, he'll bring back music and recordings for his band, who will practice playing the music themselves.

In Costa Rica, Tyner Middle Academy teachers Lora Aycock-Jenkins and Lonna Henriquez will visit turtle nesting sites and collect population and relocation data from conservation scientists. They hope to teach their math and science students the real-life value of environmental research and statistics. They will film their experience so that students can see scientists working in the field.

The teachers hope they can encourage their students' families to volunteer with local conservation efforts in Tennessee's watersheds.

"That's really the big goal -- to get the kids to be stewards of nature," Aycock-Jenkins said.

Other teachers will travel everywhere from Alaska to Cambodia.

Leslie Graitcer, PEF senior adviser, said grant recipients had to show specific ways they would introduce what they learned on their trips in their classrooms.

But teachers who didn't make the cut may have a chance to reapply next year, as the FFT hopes to continue sending teachers on adventures next summer.

Contact staff writer Steve Hardy at 423-757-6476 or shardy@timesfreepress.com.

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