2015 Tour Participating Teachers
Andrea Gardner - White Center Heights Elementary, 2015
My name is Andrea Gardner, I am an educator in Washington State. My current position is very unique: as the Extended Day Outcomes Coordinator at White Center Heights Elementary, I have worked to create, grow, and sustain an after-school program. The major aspects include knowing students and families in order to provide the precisely desired activities to promote academic and social/emotional success. Through community collaboration, grant writing, and collaboration with teachers, I have gained traction in offering free programs to nearly 325 of our 600 K-6 students at White Center Heights Elementary.

I grew up in the great state of Maine and in pursuit of Ancient Mesoamerican knowledge, I ended up in Seattle. It took me a wonderful 13 years to get through my undergraduate and graduate degrees. Between traveling and acquiring far too many credits, I finally landed on Education as my focus (and I LOVE it!). I have had many careers including: Photographer, Web/Graphic Designer, and Professional Jump-Roper. I have travelled throughout Mexico and Italy studying ancient civilizations while teaching English and Jump Roping. For the past 3 years motherhood has taken over as my primary responsibility, ambition, and passion. My daughter is 3-years old and very excited to go to Maine while mom goes to China!

My excitement for this trip stems from my passion for education and travel. After speaking with the other teachers at my school, I am even more excited for this trip. I have their full support, encouragement, and excitement pushing me to learn and bring back exciting first-hand knowledge to share. I feel like I am truly representing the entire school and seeking information for ALL students and teachers.

I look forward to creating dynamic lesson plans and being an active participant in the Cultural Explorations family for this summer and beyond! I’ve already started packing! ...Read full journey
Camilla Schulte - Carl Sandburg Elementary, Lake Washington, 2015
My name is Camilla Schulte and I am an elementary librarian in the Lake Washington School District. I am thrilled that I have the opportunity to visit China in the 2015 CE tour and am very grateful that the Cultural Exploration of Greater China made this possible.

I grew up in South Texas and satisfied my wanderlust by becoming a voracious reader. I traveled a bit as I became older, but focused mainly on my studies. I have a Bachelor in English Teaching and a Masters of Library and Informational Science. Once in my library classroom, I discovered a passion for not only connecting my students with quality stories that both inform and entertain them, but also for engaging students through new multimedia, book talks, and creating videos using a green screen. I also endeavor to make the worlds of stories come alive by frequently wearing costumes and creating fun, interactive displays.

One of the best ways students can expand their perspectives is to read the story of another child from another culture. I am currently working to extend our collection to include culturally diverse children's literature. I would love to augment their reading experiences with real-life information I have learned firsthand through your program.

When I heard about this opportunity, I jumped at the chance to apply because it directly aligns with my goals. I want to be connected with like-minded colleagues so that I can continue to have meaningful discussion about celebrating multicultural differences inside the classroom. I feel that incorporating Chinese culture will enrich the curriculum and help my students to make cross-cultural connections with their peers at school and around the world.

When I am not teaching or reading, I enjoy trying out new recipes, hiking, and running. I have run a few half-marathons, and this year I am running the 200-mile Ragnar Relay with a team of twelve. Recently I also discovered two new passions; I have learned how to make and edit videos and I am taking pottery classes, where I learn wheel-throwing and hand-building.

I feel that most of what I do when I’m not teaching always helps center me when I come back to the classroom. I will always keep searching for new ways to engage and enlighten my students, which is why I am so honored and excited for this marvelous travel experience. ...Read full journey
Dennis Griner - Highland Terrace, Shoreline, 2015
My name is Dennis Griner and I am extremely honored and humbled to have been selected as an ambassador through the Cultural Explorations Organization. This is an experience of a lifetime that will help me grow culturally, personally and professionally./br>
This is my 13th year of teaching and I have been a 7 and 8th grade social studies teacher, but for the past 11 years I have been teaching 6th grade at Highland Terrace Elementary in the Shoreline School district. My teaching philosophy is to deliver quality and engaging instruction to my student’s allowing them to learn the most and be their best selves. It has been my practice to incorporate my life’s experiences into the classroom to augment my lessons and share/generate enthusiasm for learning amongst my students. As I teach about the ancient Chinese civilization to my 6th graders this trip will prove invaluable to my instruction./br>
In addition to my classroom position I am also the Weblos den leader for my son’s cub-scout pack./br>
When I am not in my classroom I enjoy spending time with my wife of 18 years and my 4 year old daughter and 11 year old son. I am also enjoy astronomy and taking my motorcycle out for a cruise in the beautiful Pacific Northwest scenery. ...Read full journey