Gustavus Education Department Expands Global TiesThe Global Educators Program connects future Gustie teachers with international experience.
Posted on September 29th, 2016 by

Deb Pitton (left) with Principal Monica Freire in Riobamba, Ecuador.

The Gustavus Adolphus College Department of Education has recently expanded the Global Educators Program, increasing the number of opportunities for the College’s future teachers to complete part of their student-teaching requirement at alternative sites outside the United States. The additions to the program include the Instituto Tepeyac Campus in Playa del Carmen, Mexico; the International American School in Cancun, Mexico; and the San Ignacio School in Riobamba, Ecuador.

The Global Educators Program connects the required student-teaching component of an education major with an international study away experience. After a rigorous application process, students in the education department are selected and placed at one of the alternative sites during the second half of their student-teaching semester. The department has previously sent students to Barrow, Alaska; Phoenix, Arizona; and Sotogrande, Spain and will continue to work with these schools in addition to the new sites. Traditionally, the program has sent four or five students to each site. For the launch of the new connections, the department hopes to send two or three students to Playa del Carmen and Cancun during the upcoming spring semester with the goal being to develop into a full program similar to the original three sites.

“We strive to teach our future educators how to build culturally relevant classrooms by modeling it in our own classes. Working with the Center for International and Cultural Education and being able to offer experiences outside of Gustavus and outside of Minnesota allows our department to exceed this goal,” Department of Education chair Dr. Debra Pitton said.

The view of Mount Chimborazo from Riobamba, Ecuador.

The view of Mount Chimborazo from Riobamba, Ecuador.

The site in Riobamba, Ecuador will serve as the host school for a new January Interim Experience internship opportunity for Spanish-speaking students in both the Spanish and education departments. Students who take advantage of this opportunity will not be the first Gusties to teach at the city’s San Ignacio School. In 2013, Gustavus alumnus and secondary social studies education major Daniel Venn ‘15 spent the summer teaching English at San Ignacio after being invited by the family of Alejandro Lalama, a student his own parents were hosting in Minnesota. Influenced by the developing connections between their two families from different worlds, Lalama eventually chose to attend Gustavus and is now in his second year. Lalama has made the most of the developing connection between his Ecuadorian community and his new home at Gustavus by joining the soccer team and working in the Culpepper Language Lab. Although he is not seeking an education major himself, he speaks highly of Venn and the entire department.

“Daniel’s experience demonstrates the great opportunity available to future teachers,” Lalama said. “He helped many of the students, but he also learned from both them and the amazing teachers we have at the school. It is good for both schools.”

Monica Freire, Lalama’s close relative and the principal of San Ignacio School, decided to extend the relationship and expand the school’s international connections with Gustavus. After a trip to Ecuador, Pitton was able to work with Freire to create a program that would allow more Gustavus students to have the rewarding experiences that Venn and the students of San Ignacio School shared.

After receiving similar invitations for partnerships with the two schools in Mexico, Pitton visited the two cities and was able to engineer pilot programs for student-teaching in both Playa del Carmen and Cancun that fit the seven-week model of the Global Educators Program course.

Not only does the expansion of the Global Educators Program prepare more Gustavus student-teachers with a global community perspective, but the new connections are a testament to the strength of the Gustavus Department of Education.

“I am very thankful for our partners in this program for providing the opportunity for our students to be challenged and pushed outside their comfort zone while learning important life lessons,” Pitton said. “I also think that the new additions say a lot about Gustavus. Because of the success of students who attend Gustavus and because of the impact our students are making wherever they go, other people and communities are seeking to work together with the institution and the passionate people who are a part of this College.”


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad


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