Bryan Middle Teacher Attends National Geographic Summer Institute

Posted on 08/12/2019
2019 National Geographic Summer Institute

What did you do over your summer vacation? Well, Bryan Middle School Social Studies Teacher Rhonda O’Keefe had the rare opportunity to participate in the 2019 National Geographic Summer Institute. O’Keefe is a National Geographic Certified Educator and was the only teacher from Missouri selected to participate in the institute designed for middle school teachers.

O'Keefe at the 2019 National Geographic Summer InstituteThe all-expense paid week in Wyoming with National Geographic staff and educators from across North America is an experience O’Keefe will never forget. “At the institute, we focused on digging deeper into geo-inquiry as well as examining adult learning principles. As leaders, we were now tasked to go back home and share the geo-inquiry process and resources available to teachers through a professional development presentation.” According to National Geographic, the Geo-Inquiry Process relies on using a geographic perspective, offering a unique lens to analyze space, place, and the interconnections between both the human and natural world.

“During the summer institute, we did a field study in Grand Teton National Park, learned about outdoor education opportunities, visited Murie Ranch and learned the history of wilderness conservation, took a day trip to Yellowstone National Park, and had dinner at the National Wildlife Art Museum,” Said O’Keefe – but that’s not all. “We practiced presentations on the Geo-Inquiry Framework, heard keynotes from “THE” geographer of National Geographic who mapped Mount Everest, and studied the migration path of wild animals in this region due to human and natural world barriers like ranches. The experience was like no other I have ever attended as an educator!”

O’Keefe is looking forward to bringing her experiences back to the classroom. “The process has empowered my students to become local, regional, and global advocates. Last year, my students created our school’s first Refugee Awareness Day, and we began a collaboration with the Missouri Department of Conservation about how to stop the spread of the emerald ash borer in our state parks. Both of these are a direct result of me introducing my learning from National Geographic with my students.” 

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