PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS FOR EDUCATORS
Education is a lifelong endeavor. Teachers are the vital key to learning. With this in mind, Fulbright Greece has built a strong network of Greek and U.S. educators and offers opportunities for continued professional enrichment.
Photo: Train the Trainers Meeting and Workshop at the historical Marasleion School in Athens
Study of the U.S. Institutes - Welcome Home Follow-up Meeting
Study of the U.S. Institutes (SUSIs) for Scholars and Secondary Educators are post-graduate level academic programs for mid-career foreign scholars, faculty, practitioners, and secondary educators whose purpose is to strengthen curricula and to improve the teaching about the United States in academic institutions abroad. These Institutes are comprised of a four to five-week academic residency and a one to two-week educational study tour to a different region of the United States.
Following their return from the U.S., SUSI program participants from Greece are invited to the Fulbright Foundation for a follow-up session. The educators prepare reports and presentations of their recent Fulbright experiences in America—the activities, seminar topics, visits and collaborations—to share with their colleagues and Fulbright staff members. In addition, this year, they had the opportunity to attend several breakout sessions as well as the farewell reception of the International Educator Alumni 2022 Athens Conference.
Follow-up session with Alumni Educators at the Fulbright Foundation
International Educator Alumni 2022 Athens Conference
As a result of the successful proposal submitted by the Greek SUSI Alumni team, consisting of Fulbright educators Georgia Gyftoula, Kosmas Vlachos, and Achilleas Ntellis, the International Educator Alumni Conference took place in Athens from October 10–14 after an 18-month delay due to the pandemic. Alumni of the SUSI programs from the three host universities,The University of Montana, Missoula; the Institute for Training and Development (ITD) at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; and California State University (CSU) at Chico, were invited.
The purpose of the conference was to develop an expanding network of educators who are dedicated to developing and improving their home school systems. The conference addressed the overall theme of “How far have we progressed (since participating in the SUSI program), and where are we going?” and focused on the overall theme of “Liberty, Equality, and the American Dream” with sub-themes such as Diversity in Classrooms and Access and Equity in Education, Civic Engagement and Service Learning, and Innovations in Teaching English as a Foreign Language, among others. Professor Charles Zartman, Program Director from CSU, explains:
“Participants were specifically asked to form networking and project development groups during the conference for implementation after return to their home countries. Our hope is that our time together will continue to produce even greater positive benefits for all involved through these endeavors, specifically for the chosen topics of 1) Access, Equity, Democracy, and Civic Engagement; 2) Curriculum Development; and 3) Professional Development.”
Group photo at the Propylea - International Educator Alumni 2022 Athens Conference
The participants consisted of more than 80 alumni educators from different countries from the most recent SUSI programs (2018–2020), joined by staff members from each university who managed and coordinated activities on site. In addition to a keynote speech, opening remarks were made by representatives from the Fulbright Foundation, the U.S. Embassy in Athens, and the Greek Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs.
Chrissy Mangiaforte, Program Officer, U.S. Department of State remarked: “The Study of the U.S. Institutes (SUSIs) for Secondary Educators Athens Alumni Workshop allowed educators from over 60 countries to reunite and collaborate on future educational goals and exchange best practices. Eighty SUSI alumni strengthened existing connections, and built new ones amongst each other and U.S. university partners. The Greek SUSI alumni, sponsored by Fulbright Greece, led the grassroots effort to organize and make this workshop a great success. It is clear the Greek SUSI alumni have built strong connections and continue to make ongoing and lasting impacts in the educational community.”
Each day included panel and round-table discussions, presentations, and interactive breakout sessions by invited guests and SUSI alumni educators. A few afternoon excursions and evening social events were arranged to reconnect with friends and to network with new ones. At the conclusion of the workshop, each participant was asked to list new projects inspired by the four-day workshop.
Group photo at the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens: After 12 years, Anastasia Samaras, Professor of Education at George Mason University and U.S. delegate to Greece, reconnected with Fulbright Alumni Educators of the GMU Greek Teacher Professional Development Project. We were reminded of the long-lasting impact of the Fulbright learning experience and our work together. Virtual connections are here to stay, and they play a valuable role. However, there is no substitute for person-to-person interaction!
Train the Trainers Meeting and Workshop
Fulbright Greece organized the Spring 2022 edition of the Train the Trainers Meetings for Educators. On Friday, May 6, a virtual meeting took place to reach out to educators in all corners of the country, and on Saturday, May 7, a limited in-person gathering was held at the historical Marasleion Didaskaleion Dimotikis Ekpaideusis of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.
Two pressing and current topics were on the agenda: Technology in the Classroom and Mental Wellbeing. The onset of the pandemic was sudden and unexpected, and teachers had little or no training, experience, or preparation to transition from daily life in the classroom to an educational model held online. Since at least a partial virtual reality is here to stay and will be carried over into the future, it is important that educators receive support and learn about tools and applications that can assist them in making online classes inspiring and interactive. In addition, whereas mental health was an ongoing concern, the pandemic has intensified the need for psychological support to students who feel lonely or excluded and to those who are economically and socially vulnerable. The majority of Greek public schools do not have an on-site school psychologist, and educators have to deal with these issues to the best of their abilities.
The Train the Trainers meetings are addressed to Fulbright alumni of the educators’ programs—the Study of the United States Institutes (SUSI), the George Mason University Professional Development Program, and the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program—as well as to teachers and administrators assigned to primary and secondary public schools. The aim is to assemble all levels of education by inviting scholars in the field of education to speak on proposed topics and inform educators of recent research developments, for scholars to remain aware of the reality in schools and classrooms, and to encourage discussion and collaboration between all parties.
Watch the Train the Trainers Meeting and Workshop video