2006-05-11 / Top Stories

P.S. 115 Scholarship Teacher Goes The Distance-To Japan

By Melissa Favara

Fulbright Scholar Patricia GillFulbright Scholar Patricia Gill "International education exchange is the most significant current project designed to continue the process of humanizing mankind to the point, we would hope, that nations can learn to live in peace" J. William Fulbright

Patricia Gill, a performing arts elementary school teacher at Public School 115, has been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and will travel to Japan next month with a group of other scholarship winners as part an intensive three-week exchange program.

While in Japan, Gill will stay with a local family and be immersed in the nation's culture and arts while teaching local students. The program's objective is to bridge the gap between the school systems of the United States and the people of Japan by integrating art back into the education process.

Gill, a city public school teacher for fifteen years, has been teaching fourth and fifth graders, along with being P.S. 115's Project Arts Grant Coordinator for several years.

U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright proposed the Fulbright Scholarship Program to Congress in 1945. The freshman Arkansas Democrat wanted to create a program after World War II that would promote "mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries of the world." The program was approved and went into effect twenty years ago. Since its inception, more than 250,000 participants-chosen for their leadership potential-have had the opportunity to observe each other's political, economic and cultural institutions.

Sponsored by the U.S. State Department, the Fulbright Scholar Program annually sends 800 scholars and professionals to more than 140 countries, where they lecture or conduct research in a wide variety of academic and professional fields.

Grants are given for a variety of educational activities, including teaching in elementary and secondary schools. Scholarship honorees are chosen for their leadership potential and participants have the opportunity to observe foreign institutions and study their politics, economics and culture.

Gill, who has been teaching at the East 92 Street elementary school for eight years, wrote a scholarship proposal and received a registered letter earlier this year informing her that she had been accepted into the prestigious Fulbright Association.

Mitchell Pinksy, principal of P.S. 115, is "very proud" of Gill's prestigious achievement, one not bestowed on just anyone. She is the first teacher in the school's history who has ever received such a tribute. Gill summed up her education career, which will be enhanced by her trip, "The one thing I want people to know is that I do it all for the children!"

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