Veteran math teacher Karen Kelley likes new experiences; in fact, she finds herself at a new school every handful of years.
Now, thanks to a program at UNC’s Center for International Understanding, she’ll get a very new experience.
The center chose Kelley, in her first year at East Garner Middle School, as one of 40 teachers to travel to India this summer on a professional-development and cultural-sharing mission.
“July can’t get here fast enough,” Kelley said. “It’s the chance of a lifetime. If it weren’t for this organization, there’s no way I could have ever gone. I feel very fortunate.”
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Kelley will leave July 5 for Mumbai and spend time in multiple cities before returning July 20. The teachers will stay with host families and will meet with educators to exchange classroom techniques and experiences.
“We will figure out how we as a state fit into the global education system – what are we lacking in, what we need to improve upon,” Kelley said.
Kelley said she applied for the India trip because she likes trying new things in new settings. She has taught in North Carolina for 24 years and in Wake County for 20. But as she gets settled into one job, she gets curious.
“I’m about a four- or five-year girl wherever I go,” the Kentucky native said.
Kelley has taught math at the middle and high school levels. She taught at Carthage Middle School for a period. She taught at Southeast Raleigh High when it opened because she wanted to try the high school level. The idea of a year-round schedule intrigued her when the concept was not widespread, so she taught at Westlake Middle School.
Kelley has also worked for the N.C. Teaching Academy, a professional-development arm of the Department for Public Instruction that lost funding in 2011.
After a couple of days in Mumbai, the entourage will spend time in Pune and Delhi.
The two-week stay will include a side trip to Agra to see the Taj Mahal.
Kelley had one prior international trip, taking Southeast students to the British Isles. But that trip was more “touristy,” she said, and she looks forward to learning about different schools while being immersed in Indian lifestyles.
She expects the trip to be a great asset, especially given East Garner’s International Baccalaureate standing.
“I’m sure we’ll be inundated with their culture,” Kelley said.