SCHOOLS | September 24, 2018
Brooks High School’s math and science teacher, William Reed, will be traveling to the Netherlands come January. As a recipient of the Fulbright Distinguished Award, Reed will participate in the professional development program for six months.
During that time, he’ll visit different local schools, take classes at a university that hasn’t been selected yet, and work on a capstone project.
With some encouragement from others, Reed said he decided to take a chance and apply, adding that he felt “good” about his chances. He received the news while at his Parent Teacher conference.
“I saw in my email something pop up from the Fulbright team and then my first parent and student came up,” he said. “I said, ‘Okay, I’m not going to open this,’ and so I did my best to keep my composure, and work my way through the conference.”
Reed said he plans to use this opportunity to study how STEM teachers can better “develop ways to leverage all of the resources,” they receive.
Out of the 10 partner countries, he said he chose the Netherlands because in some ways their system resembles the U.S.
“They have a decentralized school system that’s similar to the U.S., and in some ways to CPS, where it’s really big, there are different schools with different initiatives and they have some autonomy to make decisions at the school level.”
Under-representation in STEM fields is not an issue only known in the U.S. either, Reed said.
“That’s something that the Netherlands has been addressing explicitly for at least a decade,” he said.
Another area that piqued his interested were the partnerships. One in particular connects the school system with businesses, Reed explained.
“The idea is that the businesses can help teachers at the school develop relevant, engaging curriculum for the students,” he said.
Reed also wants to look at how relationships between universities and schools are designed and sustained in the Netherlands.
His trajectory wasn’t one he had ever imagined while still in school, he admitted. Although his love for STEM was always there, education grew on him, he shared.
As a chemistry student in college, Reed said he planned to go into research science, but after a few experiences he decided it wasn’t for him. He began to go down another path when he got hired by the University of Chicago in 2008 to work in their Biology department as a technician.
“I worked closely with the professors and undergrad students and got a chance to work with some high school kids during that time [through different programs],” he said. “I sort of recognized during that time that I was interested in pursuing something in education, but I was also interested in these broader goals of educational equity.”
Reed said he was “hopeful” that he could help make a difference so he decided to participate in a teaching program with the goal of joining CPS. Before joining Brooks in 2014 he taught science at Kelly and Disney II.
His collective teaching experience has prepared him for the Fulbright opportunity, Reed said adding that he will bring back new ideas that he wants to implement right away.
“I hope that I can build some lasting international relationships and bring in sort of global perspectives into my classes for my students,” he said.