The Voices of Geo-Education

Following the launch of our brand new program, the Geo-Educator Community, we reached out to the eight outstanding educators that make up our community’s Steering Committee to hear their thoughts on geo-education. These are their voices.

Kevin Denton
Currently Teaching: Middle School – Science and Math
Location: Fort Collins, CO

Kevin with students in Rwanda. Photo by John Gasangwa.
Kevin with students in Rwanda. Photo by John Gasangwa.

“Rather than simply another initiative or mandated reform, geo-education seeks to build meaning and authenticity into today’s classrooms through the recognition that we are all connected. The level of proficiency that students have as responsible and productive citizens of the global community will have a direct result on how prepared they will be to meet the demands of the 21st century workplace.”
Kevin Denton is an Expeditionary Learning practitioner, zealously working to bring meaningful and authentic learning contexts into schools around the world. He loves getting his hands dirty with students and fellow educators to re-invent the school day around the relevant issues and work that really matters. The past few years have been exciting as he has taken on more leadership roles in leading professional development in his own school, at national conferences and in collaborative online communities. He is also involved in exciting projects with international non-profits like Sustainable Schools International and Arise Rwanda Ministries—helping them develop innovative curriculum and schools that will bridge the gap between school and work for students in Cambodia and Rwanda.

Cara Bucciarelli
Currently Teaching: K-8 – Spanish
Location: Chicago, IL

Photo by Cara Bucciarelli.
Photo by Cara Bucciarelli.

“I believe in geo-education because geo-education builds citizenship. As students become curious, connected learners, they also examine the roles and responsibilities we all share to create a better world.”
Cara Bucciarelli teaches K-8 Spanish at LaSalle II Magnet School in Chicago, Illinois, where she was a founding member of the school team.  She is committed to developing interdisciplinary units that integrate world language and other disciplines. To that end, Cara has earned grants from the Kids in Need Foundation, the Oppenheimer Family Foundation, Fund for Teachers and the Chicago Foundation for Education (CFE), and she was recently named CFE’s 2013 Teacher of the Year. Cara is a Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellowship alumna and currently serves on the Advance Illinois Educator Advisory Council. She has a B.A. in Spanish from Oberlin College, an M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and an M.A.T. from Dominican University.

Anne Lewis
Currently Teaching: Environmental Education at South Dakota Discovery Center
Location: Pierre, SD

Anne holding composting worms. Photo by Anne Lewis.
Anne holding composting worms. Photo by Anne Lewis.

When will we not need to understand the world around us?
Geo-education is social studies, of course. It’s world languages and physical, environmental and life sciences. It’s English and literature. It’s PE (life skills like hiking and kayaking, anyone?) It’s math. It’s economics. It’s EVERYTHING: every skill, every bit of knowledge, every habit of mind or disposition you will need to participate successfully, richly and completely in this connected yet fractious world. Geo-education is lifelong learning.”
Anne Lewis lives in Pierre, SD where she works for the South Dakota Discovery Center as the special projects director: which means she does whatever needs to be done. Her primary responsibilities involve environmental education, specifically watershed education. In this capacity, she coordinates South Dakota Project WET and the Leopold Education Project, administrates a small grants program and gets to take teachers into the field as part of professional development.
She has a Master’s degree from Hamline University in Natural Science and Environmental Education. She likes to kayak and hike, and her goal is to learn to identify 25 wildflowers by sight. After a decades-long hiatus, she has returned to running (slowly) just in case she should meet a bear.

Breigh Rhodes
Currently Teaching: Second Grade – Math and Science
Location: Zachary, LA

Breigh in front of the Louvre in Paris, France. Photo by Adam Rhodes.
Breigh in front of the Louvre in Paris, France. Photo by Adam Rhodes.

“I believe even the youngest of students can understand this idea of interconnectedness: that our world is so big, yet so small; that Earth’s people are all so beautifully diverse, yet so remarkably alike. As a geo-educator, I’m dedicated to encouraging young learners to explore our world for all the beauty and wonder that it is and also to dream about what could be.”
Breigh Rhodes is in her seventh year of teaching in Zachary, Louisiana. In addition to teaching 2nd grade math and science, Breigh also develops curriculum and conducts professional development for teachers. Breigh holds a BS in Elementary Education from Southeastern Louisiana University and a Master’s in Gifted Education from Louisiana State University. Breigh has been recognized nationally for her teaching with honors such as the Council for Elementary Science International’s Rising Star Award and the 2011 Disney Planet Challenge national grand prize. Breigh is passionate about inspiring her young learners through meaningful experiences that integrate all disciplines and extend beyond the classroom walls, and she is known within her education community for her innovative projects and out-of-the-box ideas.

Eric Carlson
Currently Teaching: A.P Human Geography, Global Issues and United States History
Location: Chicago, IL (Beijing, China as of August)

Eric enjoying the scenery in Big Sur, California. Photo by Maria Alejandra Rivera.
Eric enjoying the scenery in Big Sur, California. Photo by Maria Alejandra Rivera.

“I want my students to savor that same taste of discovery, newness and fascination that I did [while traveling abroad.] At the same time, I want my students to realize that their actions and decisions in Chicago can have a major impact on countless lives in far-off places.”
For the past fifteen years, Eric Carlson’s life has largely centered on his two greatest passions: teaching and exploring the world. He tries to combine the two as often as possible, either by gathering resources and investigating issues for use in his classroom when he’s abroad, or by connecting students to global themes through the Model United Nations Club, travel opportunities, an internationalized curriculum and connections with students around the city and the world. He has enjoyed a challenging and exciting teaching career in Glenview, Illinois, Tegucigalpa, Honduras and most recently, the Southwest side of Chicago. In August, Eric and his wife are heading to Beijing to teach in an international program. Finally, he can’t wait for the World Cup to begin!

Deborah Anderson
Currently Teaching: K-8 – Language Arts, Music and World History
Location: Oakland, NE

Deb in the Swiss Alps. Photo by Tim Anderson.
Deb in the Swiss Alps. Photo by Tim Anderson.

“Geo-education is simply a way to look at our world–past, present and future–and to prepare us for future journeys. Whether the Head Start teacher, the music specialist or the high school algebra teacher, we all strive to prepare young people to be successful when they begin their own adventures.”
Deborah Anderson, also known as Mrs. Globe to her students, has been an educator for over 27 years. Involved with NGS alliances on state and national levels, Deborah has served on staff as a state alliance teacher consultant, presented at state and national conventions and developed curriculum. Geography and going beyond the classroom walls are the rocks around which much of her career has evolved. She currently teaches in a rural school, Scribner-Snyder Community, where “Small School-Big Education” has become the vision for a 21st century approach to education. Deb and her husband Tim invite students to join them as Passionate Pilgrims, discovering their connections to a global world.

Diane Husic
Currently Teaching: Higher Education – Environmental Science, Restoration Ecology and Climate Change
Location: Kunkletown, PA

Diane by Lake Superior. Photo by Corey Husic.
Diane by Lake Superior. Photo by Corey Husic.

“I strongly believe that we all need to have a strong sense of place, but at the same time also understand the interconnectedness of today’s world–be it our food supply, the global economy or our 21st century grand challenges such as climate change, the decline of biodiversity and emerging diseases.”
Diane Husic has a Biochemistry from Michigan State University and serves as chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at Moravian College in Pennsylvania. Her research interests include plant biochemical responses to environmental stress, restoration ecology at a Superfund site, ecological assessments and understanding how to best communicate to the public about climate change. She is an author on over 40 publications and has contributed to a number of reports–including the 2011 PA Climate Change Adaptation report and the Council on Undergraduate Research publication “Transformative Research at Predominantly Undergraduate Institutions.” She has attended five meetings of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change and represents the Global Women’s’ Scholar Network working on the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.

Terry Smith
Currently Teaching: Teacher Education – Science and Social Studies Education, Educational Technology
Location: Radford, VA

Terry in Taiwan. Photo by Mary Eby.
Terry in Taiwan. Photo by Mary Eby.

“The term geo-education is particularly significant because it expresses a deliberate approach to learning about the world. To me it implies a range of academic topics and experiences integrating technology with literacy, science, social studies, mathematics and culture. And these all point to global awareness: a capacity that all of our students need to be developing in order to be citizens not only locally, but also globally.”
After working in the computer industry as a technical writer, Terry Smith became an elementary teacher and brought his technology skills and a desire to do project-based learning into the classroom. As a result of international project connections, he took his students to Taiwan twice. After 14 years in elementary, he completed a doctorate in educational technology, focusing on virtual learning environments; then he moved into higher education as a teacher educator. Currently, he runs two global projects: one for lower elementary, the other for upper elementary and middle school. He blends technology and global projects into the experiences that his novice teachers need to function in this age of globalization. He loves to travel, and he maintains professional contacts and partners around the world.

The Geo-Educator Community is a community for educators who are passionate about teaching their students about our interconnected world. National Geographic invites you to proclaim yourself a geo-educator and join the community today. Visit to learn how.

By Rebecca Bice, National Geographic’s Center for Geo-Education

3 thoughts on “The Voices of Geo-Education

Leave a Reply