Global Gateway for Teachers celebrates fifty years

From left to right: David Dimmett (Executive Vice President and Chief Impact Officer, Project Lead the Way); Dawn M. Whitehead (Vice President of the Office of Global Citizenship for Campus Community, and Careers at the American Association of Colleges and Universities); Laura Stachowski (Director, Global Gateway for Teachers); James M. Mahan (Professor Emeritus, Global Gateway for Teachers Founder); Pam Fischer (Retired English Teacher); Kathleen Sideli (IU Associate Vice President for Overseas Study)

For half a century, Global Gateway for Teachers has been helping students have transformative experiences around the country - and around the world. The unique program provides IU School of Education students the chance to teach abroad, giving them invaluable intercultural immersion experiences while also fulfilling their student teaching requirements.

Global Gateway started as a vision in the 1970s by Professor Emeritus Jim Mahan to respond to increased diversity in classrooms and expand the pre-professional experiences of future educators. The rigid structure of most teacher education programs means it can be difficult to take part in a traditional study-abroad or off-campus internships, but as part of Global Gateway, students have the opportunity to teach in two locations in the U.S.—Chicago Public Schools or the Navajo Nation—or in twenty countries around the world, with plans to further expand that list.

Students who participate in Global Gateways make a two-year commitment to the program, beginning with a preparatory phase that includes monthly classes, readings and a workshop, ultimately culminating in the student teaching experience.

A photo from student Jacob Richards taken during his time teaching on the Navajo Nation

Laura Stachowski is Director of Global Gateway for Teachers and has seen the impact the program has had on a personal level, having studied in Preston, England, in the late 1970s. Prior to the pandemic, program coordinators served between 70 and 100 student teachers each year, including students enrolled at IU Bloomington, along with those at guest institutions such as Purdue University, Ball State University, Indiana State University and IU regional campuses around Indiana. They also served as a placement provider for roughly the same approximate number of students from partner institutions for whom the program provides placements. As IU emerges from this pandemic and international travel is once again on the table for students, Stachowski anticipates being back to our pre-pandemic numbers quickly, as students are eager for the opportunities the School of Education offers.

Countless former students have told me, over the years, that participating in our program was one of the most important things they did while they were at IU, and that the experiences and perspectives they gained have continued to shape and influence them, even years later.

Laura Stachowski

Clara Valentine is one of those students, and the first to be placed at the newest location for the program: Hamburg, Germany. For her, Global Gateway for Teachers is a program that set IU apart from other teacher education programs and factored into her decision to come to IU. Now in Germany, she is learning about a new educational system while also experiencing culture shock from not knowing the local language.

“Learning happens when you step out of your comfort zone and allow yourself to take risks, be vulnerable, and try new things. This is exactly what is happening personally and professionally through Global Gateways. I am able to recognize this early in my journey and can only imagine the impact on my life the next two months in Germany will bring me,” Valentine said.

Jacob Richards chose to study at the Navajo Nation last fall. On the way to the reservation, he felt a lot of new and different feelings - but any uncertainty vanished as he started his first week of student teaching. At Tohalli Community School in New Mexico, Richards felt he had found his place.

“This experience has already and will continue to enhance my future career as an educator. It has taught me the importance of pushing myself to continue my own education in order to offer the highest and most fulfilling education possible for my students,” Richards said. “This experience has inspired me to better myself as an individual so I can impact as many lives as possible. Each and every one of my students pushed my thoughts, my feelings, and the limits of my comfort zone to allow me to grow alongside them. I hope I was able to make an impact and offer inspiration to these amazing individuals as well. Provided how difficult and emotional it was to say goodbye, and for my students and me to part ways, I feel like I was able to do so.”

Thousands of student teachers like Valentine and Richards have participated in Global Gateway. Those former students are now working across Indiana, the United States and the world, and all bring the immersion experiences they had with Global Gateway to their current careers.

Program director Laura Stachowski speaks at the 50th anniversary celebration

“They are positioned to help others broaden their own views of the world and the people who inhabit it, by encouraging stepping beyond comfort zones and the development of global perspectives and competencies,” Stachowski said. “I have been here long enough that countless former students have told me, over the years, that participating in our program was one of the most important things they did while they were at IU, and that the experiences and perspectives they gained have continued to shape and influence them, even years later.”

Of the many aspects of the program to be proud of, Stachowski cites the six national and international awards our program has received over the years, including the NAFSA 2021 Senator Paul Simon Spotlight Award for Campus Internationalization.

“There is much to be proud of at the 50-year milestone, but we cannot rest on these laurels,” she added. “We have a lot of work to do, and new areas of growth and development to foster for Global Gateway for Teachers as we shepherd it into its next 50 years.”