Teachers and Students Grow and Give Back Through Travel This Summer If your idea of a summer trip involves lounging next to water asleep with a book on your lap, then the trips Indianapolis Public Schools teachers and students are taking this summer aren’t for you. The learning and professional development doesn’t stop for them when school ends in June.

Ann Mennonno, a teacher at Center for Inquiry School 27, is also president of a non-profit organization called Hearts in Education Teacher Outreach (HETO). For the past ten years she has taken groups of teachers, including many IPS teachers, to Honduras during the summer to work in schools. She’s going again this year and taking several IPS teachers.

Mennonno says she started doing the work because “I believed it was hard to teach students to be international when I hadn’t traveled much myself outside our country. I fell in love with the mission and [Honduras]. I generally spend about two weeks a summer [there and] lead groups of teachers. We work with 15 different rural and urban schools in the country. We deliver MUCH needed supplies (that the teachers traveling collect throughout the year), model teaching best practices, and help teachers with issues they may be having.”

Several students and faculty from Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School will be traveling to Swaziland this summer, the country with the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence in the world. The students are all part of Peer Leaders for AIDS Free Africa and America (PLAFAA), a program grooming Indianapolis high school students to be advocates for healthy lifestyles in Indiana and in southern Africa.

During the trip students train local high school students to distribute educational information to their peers in regards to HIV/AIDS in a train-the-trainer model. They also assist in clinics. Crispus Attucks senior Mariah Mathews went once before in 2013 and is looking forward to returning.

“The 2013 PLAFAA trip to Swaziland was an experience of a lifetime,” she said. “I was able to learn about a different nation and culture, while doing my part to further educate my fellow peers there about the stigma of HIV and the true facts behind the virus. I was also able to help some of the communities there by doing my part in the SOHO neighborhood health clinics and giving out aid packages that provided necessary nutrients, educational materials, and hygiene products.”

Several of the IPS teachers who were awarded Lilly Endowment Teacher Creativity Fellowships for this summer are looking for a similarly enriching travel experience.

Theodore Potter School 74 music teacher Patricia Clark hopes her trip to Costa Rica will increase her “ability to utilize my developing Spanish-speaking skills in the music classroom to more fully support our dual language curriculum.”

Bridget Swinney, also from Theodore Potter, is traveling to Scotland and Ireland to study traditional spinning and weaving. “By being placed in the role of a student, I will … develop a stronger understanding of challenges and successes my students might face,” she said.

Gregory Nowling, Media Specialist at Arsenal Technical High School, is going to England to “refresh the well of knowledge and experiences that I have to share with my students.”

Katie Knutson of Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School plans to travel to historical and pop cultural locations in London and document the journey with tweets and YouTube videos. “I’m going to immerse myself in their culture. I’ve always been interested in London and we discuss England quite a bit in American History first semester, so [this will be] the perfect bridge between academic and personal. My goal is to bring London to students in IPS by writing a blog and documenting my journey in pictures and video.”

We’re pleased to have teachers and students who think globally and regard teaching and learning as opportunities that take them beyond their classrooms. We can’t wait to see the results of their journeys!

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