HomeRural Teacher CorpsBroadening Perspectives Drives Illinois Fellow

Broadening Perspectives Drives Illinois Fellow


Perspective.  For Jose Galvan it is the key to his way of thinking; encouraging his students to consider different perspectives while at the same time broadening his own.

Galvan is a 7th grade American History teacher at Macomb Junior High.  Macomb, a small college town is western Illinois, is a long way literally and figuratively from his hometown of Joliet, an old industrial center southwest of Chicago.  Galvan, who has been teaching in Macomb since 2003, was a first-generation college student, and he was able to attend the University of Illinois on a Golden Apple Scholarship.

Different pathways have provided Galvan with perceptual experiences beyond what one would expect of a young man.  His geographical trek from suburban Joliet to the University of Illinois, and then to a tiny rural school of West Central before moving to Macomb has allowed him to live in a variety of settings.  Just as interesting is Galvan’s career path:  his roles as substitute teacher, classroom teacher, and high school soccer coach have combined to give him a variety of insights on the teaching profession.

Galvan understands the significance of his wide range of opportunities, and he assimilates these experiences into a personal philosophy of how he should teach and live.  “Providing students with different perspectives promotes critical thinking and historical analysis,” he said, and this goes hand in hand with Jose’s belief in utilizing “student-centered projects,” particularly efforts that focus on classroom governance based on the United States Constitution.

It is not surprising that Galvan saw The Rural School and Community Trust’s Global Teaching Fellowship program as an avenue to enhance his own knowledge and at the same time expand his students’ thinking.  His project, Through English Eyes, was selected by the Rural Trust as a Fellowship recipient, which enabled Jose to visit historical sites in London and spend time in British educational settings.

“I am wanting to look at history through a different perspective, focusing on the ‘American Revolution.’”  He added, “I am very interested to learn how this subject is taught in England, a nation where people live amongst history.  These are the perspectives I want to bring back to my kids.”

It is not hard to imagine the charismatic Galvan sharing his travels enthusiastically to wide-eyed students.  “I am really looking forward to bringing the stories back.  I am a big storyteller,” he admitted with a laugh.  “This trip should be inspirational.”

Rural Trust Global Teacher Fellowship program annually awards up to 25 fellowships to support the professional and personal development of rural teachers. The awards (up to $5,000 for individual teachers and $10,000 for a team of two or more teachers) support teachers’ participation in self-designed summer learning experiences and a two-day place-based learning institute in the fall. Teachers are encouraged to center their learning in an international travel and study experience, out of which they develop interdisciplinary, place-based learning curricula aligned with their specific state and local content standards.  The Fellows then convene for a fall gathering of fellowship and sharing.