City Council Member Norman Ayagalria Receives National Education Fellowship
Bethel City Councilman Norman Ayagalria is an English Language Arts and Yup’ik Culture teacher at Gladys Jung Elementary School, here in Bethel. Ayagalria has received a Global Learning Fellowship from the National Education Association (NEA), which is a teachers union "committed to advancing the cause of public education."
The fellowship provides a year of professional development to 48 teachers working together on internationally-focused projects in groups divided by subject and grade level. Ayagalria said that the program is designed to help instructors expand their knowledge and perspectives and bring that experience back to the classroom through various lesson plans created collaboratively.
“We will be teaching a series of lessons that are not only locally appropriate, but will be teaching lessons outside of our respective regions,” said Ayagalria.
The aim of the fellowship, according to the National Education Association, is for public school teachers like Ayagalria to “spend a year building global competency skills” so that they can have “the capacity to understand and teach issues of global significance.”
“So somebody from Greenland, and it would be bouncing ideas off another teacher from the same cohort on what kind of lesson ideas that they would be incorporating,” said Ayagalria, “so it’s something that does not just involve traveling, it also involves working with fifteen other educators throughout the country.”
Ayagalria and other teachers, both in the U.S. and internationally, have been connecting through social media this past month, already working together to plan for the next school year.
“Right now we are doing a book study, we’re gonna be doing a book study pretty soon with other teachers, on the country of South Africa,” said Ayagalria.
Ayagalria said he wants his students to be able to think about Yup’ik culture in a different way.
“So that future students who are going to school, either in Gladys Jung or LKSD, or who are coming to Alaska will be able to see or catch a glimpse of what the Yup’ik culture looks like and how it fits in the global perspective,” said Ayagalria.