Written by Holly Emert, Assistant Director, Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program
On March 28, 2014, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and New Zealand Minister of Education Hekia Parata held a press conference to announce the establishment of the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program
in New Zealand. This program provides an intensive 3-4 month professional development opportunity for accomplished primary and secondary level teachers from the U.S. and eleven other countries. This program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by the Global Teacher Programs Division at the Institute of International Education (IIE).
While abroad, Fulbright Distinguished Teachers take courses for professional development at a host university; spend time in local schools observing, co-teaching, and/or offering seminars or workshops on their areas of expertise; and develop a research project of their own design of direct relevance to their educational practice. Both Secretary Duncan and Minister Parata highlighted the importance of these types of international programs for educators. Duncan stated, "Programs like the new U.S.-New Zealand Fulbright teaching exchange will give our educators a chance to see firsthand what’s working in New Zealand’s classrooms and return home with new strategies for ensuring all students graduate ready for college and careers." Minister Parata stated, "This agreement reflects our on-going commitment to raising the status of the teaching profession through cooperation and collaboration. It is a great opportunity for teachers from both New Zealand and US education systems to share their successes and their challenges, and learn from each other."
At the press conference, Secretary Duncan and Minister Parata also announced the first two New Zealand teachers to receive this Fulbright Award. They are Su Mukand, a science teacher from Papatoetoe High School and Fiona Jeffries, an English teacher from Paraparaumu College. While in the U.S. in fall 2014 Ms. Mukund will pursue the project "Making it REAL: Retaining and Engaging ALL Learners in Secondary Science Classrooms" examining how professional development in the US helps teachers work with diverse learners. Ms. Jeffries’ project is "Using Digital Technology in the English Classroom", through which she will examine the impact of digital tools on student engagement, learning and success, with a particular focus on low-progress learners. This project supports a new initiative in New Zealand which requires all teachers to incorporate digital technology into their teaching.
New Zealand will be the eleventh country to partner with the United States on the Fulbright Distinguished Teaching Awards Programme. Other participating countries in 2014-2015 include: Chile, Finland, India, Israel, Mexico, Morocco, Palestinian Territories, Singapore, South Korea, and the United Kingdom.