Karstrand Wins Fulbright Scholarship

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Karstrand Wins Fulbright Scholarship

Alexis Delos Santos, Staff Reporter

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Many of us in high school never tend to grasp the importance or how influential a class may be. We simply see it as another requirement that we must take in order to pass on and graduate, making it almost seem as if it was some fruitless experience, however, that’s not always the case.

Kelly Karstrand, a French teacher here at ABS, has always been intrigued with the French language. Her passion for the language was sparked back at Mother McAuley High School as a student. This passion and dedication to the language followed her through college which, in turn, landed her a career as a bilingual teacher.

Karstrand taught French for 23 years in different schools before she began teaching here at ABS. Her goal at ABS is to promote the French language among her students and to introduce them to a culture they might not know or be used to.

Now Karstrand has a chance to promote French, as well as, English to students outside the U.S. through the Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms Program. In this program teachers across the U.S. are selected to help “promote global awareness and education with students in the U.S. and in the world” said Karstrand.

Karstrand explained, “Each teacher is sent to a different country that really isn’t well known here in the U.S.”

This program doesn’t just apply to bilingual teachers. Any teacher in the U.S. can be selected, as long as, they fit the requirements needed by the program. Teachers who are selected for the Fulbright program are selected based on academic and professional achievement and how much leadership potential they demonstrate.

Karstrand will travel to Senegal in West Africa and stay there for three weeks. During this trip she will help teach students there about U.S. culture and the English language. Once she returns, Karstrand will try to introduce Senegal culture and the students from Senegal to her own students here at ABS.

She stated “I plan to record classes and the students while I’m at Senegal to show my students what life is like over there. I’ll also plan to do the same thing and show students at Senegal what’s it like over in the U.S.”

Karstrand hopes that she will be able to continue promoting the French language while helping people become more aware of other cultures and languages around them.

Although French is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, there has been a sudden decline of the languages here in the U.S.

“I believe many people don’t see how much of an impact and how important the French langauage is.” Karstrand stated. “While learning other languages like Spanish can be helpful, French can be very helpful as well on a global standpoint.”

Many other teachers along with Karstrand, will keep working together in hopes that French can rise in popularity again.

The Curriculum Director of Foreign Language and ENL, Karen Kruger, is proud of the impact Karstrand’s award will have for the district.

Kruger stated, “Kelly winning the Fulbright is a recognition of her hard work as a teacher and her constant striving to learn and innovate. Beyond the acknowledgement of her hard work, there are huge benefits to her scholarship. She has already started piloting units that teach French while simultaneously incorporating these skills- investigating the world, taking action, recognizing perspectives, and communicating- into our other language and levels.”

Karstrand’s willingness to take risks is what makes her an effective teacher.

“Kelly is constantly learning, taking risks, asking for feedback, and innovating as a teacher. She always questions how her planning and teaching can be more effective,” Kruger stated. “The status quo is not OK with her. It’s a pleasure working with someone who knows the craft so well yet never rests on her laurels.”

Katie Reed-Elinoff, Karstrand’s French and French teaching colleague, summed it all up.

“Kelly is one of the most dedicated teachers the district has. She is constantly researching what she can do to make her teaching stronger and help her students learn better,” said Reed-Elinoff. “Kelly going to Africa is going to help the department and Shepard because of all the experiences she is going have and all the connections she is going to make. She is going to have the possibility to work with and learn from other teachers and students from all over the world. I know Kelly will watch how other teachers are working with students both in and out of the classroom and bring it back so we can all improve our teaching.”