In 2016, I attended the National Council of Social Studies' Conference in Washington, DC. It was there that I was first introduced to the Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship. I was instantly smitten, and knew that I wanted to apply. Through a partnership with Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic, teachers could apply and, if selected, travel on an expedition to places like Antarctica, Galápagos, Japan, Alaska, Iceland, Polynesia, and Patagonia among other places. I found out all I could about the program and learned that it was a requirement to be certified as a National Geographic Educator.
After some setbacks caused by Hurricane María, which devasted Puerto Rico and greatly limited our access to electricity and internet, I began the National Geographic Certification process and became certified in 2018. Once certified, I was chosen (to my surprise) to be a certification mentor. Both my own certification process and the ability to mentor educators around the world has been one of the most enriching experiences of my professional life. By reflecting on my teaching practice and incorporating National Geographic's Explorer Mindset into my teaching, I became more intentional about creating lessons and opportunities for my students to be curious, to work collaboratively, to be creative, to communicate effectively, become empowered, and solve problems facing our world.
When I read that the Grosvenor Teacher Fellow Program was starting up after a three-year pause due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, I jumped at the chance to apply. I felt that it was a long shot, but I didn't want to miss my opportunity to apply. I wrote and re-wrote my essays, and filmed my application video dozens of times! To my great surprise, I got a call on my drive home. It was Fay Gore, Senior Director of Strategic Partners and Grants at National Geographic letting me know that I had been selected as a 2023 Grosvenor Teacher Fellow. I was beyond ecstatic - my kids were cheering in the car - I could not believe that this seed of an idea and dream that had been planted so long before was actually happening!