2019 Fellowship Team – Reflections


Global Teachers Institute, South Africa


 Crystal Polski

Crystal Polski applied for the Teach With Africa GTI Educator Exchange fellowship because she wanted to expand her professional network to include teachers from South Africa. She was eager to learn with and from them about how they are working to meet their students’ needs and support them to create student-centered learning experiences that are rigorous, relevant, and engaging.

At the GTI Axis Summit, which hosted 291 teachers from all over South Africa and is designed as a community of practice, where all voices are valued, encouraged to participate, and where every attendee can make a meaningful contribution. Crystal had the opportunity to facilitate a Community of Practice workshop, where she presented on Creating Questions for Change. She had about 100 teachers in attendance who were keen to learn new strategies on engaging with students and increasing student voices in the classroom.

During her time in South Africa, Crystal was placed at LEAP Science and Maths School in Diepsloot, where she was paired with a teacher to work collaboratively. “I have been paired with Mr. Dube, a history teacher, at LEAP 4, who teaches the Grade 8 class. We have already taught some classes together and I am going to be leading one lesson on my own soon. I have taught on the scramble of Africa many times before back in the US, but it took on a different meaning with me being on the continent and discussing colonialism. The students posed different ideas about the differences between physical and psychological colonization.” she said.

In partnership with Teach With Africa, the GTI Educator Exchange program aims to facilitate an authentic platform for fellows and their South African hosts to learn from one another, improve their instructional practices, and shift the international engagement paradigm from one of giving and taking to co-creation and sharing. In addition to professional experience and expertise, GTI seeks to recruit Fellows who are excited by the potential of the program to be a truly transformative experience, personally and professionally.

Clifford Sykes

Email: briteeyze@gmail.com
Teaching Grade: 7 -12
Teaching Subjects: English and Music
City: Michigan, US

After matriculating through Lincoln University of Missouri and receiving the Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education,  I received a Teaching Fellowship to pursue The Master of Music Education degree at the University of Wisconsin (Madison). While at The Univ. of Wisconsin I was honored to be selected to assist world renowned Jazz Pianist & composer Cecil Taylor, who invited me to accompany him as a member of the Artist In Residence at Antioch College (Ohio). After a year at Antioch College, I was hired to teach Instrumental Music in the Detroit Public Schools.

I taught for several years in Detroit before receiving another Teaching Fellowship to work on The Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology at the Univ. of Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania).  Having completed the preliminary requirements, I had to return to Michigan in order to maintain my position & tenure. I retired from the Pontiac Michigan School District in 2014. I have recently been rehired at Henry Ford High School in Detroit.


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