by Charlie Guthmann
One of the disadvantages of being a teacher is the difficulty to earn recognition for doing a good job, because unlike many other jobs, teachers have no real way of promotion. That is why Martha Mulligan, Math Department, Northside’s Calculus AB teacher, applied for the Fulbright Fellowship. Mulligan cited her reason for applying saying, “not many opportunities like this are open to teachers — opportunities to keep teaching while getting recognition and a new learning opportunity. I applied for the Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching Program because I wanted to challenge myself to learn in a new way and in a completely new place.” The fellowship gave Mulligan an opportunity that ,ironically, is not usually available teachers: to get out of her comfort zone and learn new things. The fellowship is the length of the entire second semester of this school year.
Mulligan’s particular Fulbright Fellowship is halfway across the world in Singapore. The program, which can be best described as “an American scholarship program of competitive, merit-based grants for international educational exchange for students, scholars, teachers, professionals, scientists and artists,” has given Mulligan the opportunity to learn about the school system in Singapore, where she has spent time “observing classes and talking with teachers.” In accordance with the program, she has also taken a graduate course from Singapore’s National Institute of Education. On weekends she explores the city with her family, using public transportation to visit both touristy venues and local hawker centers, which are the equivalent to food courts, where in Mulligan’s words, the food is both “cheap and delicious.”
Not only has the Fulbright Fellowship given Mulligan the opportunity to do something new, it has also given her time to reflect on the differences between schooling systems in Singapore and Northside. While Mulligan felt there may have been a little too much emphasis on standardized tests, she felt “Singapore’s systemic and systematic approach to standards and curricula review should be applauded.”She was also able to teach many teachers in Singapore about Desmos, which for those of us who have had Ms. Mulligan, is a really funny picture because Ms.Mulligan is absolutely in love with Desmos, using it almost every class. Overall, Mulligan hopes to come back with a new understanding of education, and she hopes to apply this new understanding to summer algebra and her calculus classes during the school year.
Mulligan said there was nothing specifically that made her the best applicant, but she provided a detailed rationale behind what she wanted to do, as well as information about her work and leadership experience. This means that for those of you who are looking to apply for a Fulbright (it is open to students), do not be discouraged.. Know that anyone who is thoughtful and detailed about the application has a chance to be selected.