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National Geographic Journey to Empower La Joya ISD Gifted & Talented Students


Posted Date: 09/06/2019

In the winter of 2019  Carlinda J. Capelo-Pichardo a Teacher at Narciso Elementary  enrolled in the National Geographic Educator Certification Program.   This is “…a free professional development program that recognizes pre-K through 12 formal and informal educators committed to inspiring the next generation of explorers, conservationists, and changemakers.”

While Mrs. Capelo-Pichardo enrolled in the educator certification course, a few weeks later she decided to enroll in two other professional development online courses that National Geographic offers: Connecting the Geo-Inquiry Process to Your Teaching Practice and Integrating Service with Learning Goals. All three courses required to create a lesson plan to integrate with her students.  At the end of the programs (March), she successfully completed the lesson plans, became a National Geographic Certified Educator, and received exemplary ratings on the coursework she turned in.  Mrs. Capelo-Pichardo also received certificates of completion for the other two online courses she completed.    

The TPSP coursework her students worked on was alternative energy.  Early February, her students received a notification that would research a Guerrilla Geographer, Daniel Raven-Ellison, from London, England.  His work entailed creating London as the first national park city.  For this research, they used their project based learning skills, and they researched their explorer’s work, which included his mission, biography, work locations, and tools and methodology.  They also created a poster campaign about his mission and created awareness to the public on why it is important to care for the earth. After all of the research was completed, my students created and published a website through Google Sites about Daniel Raven-Ellison:  https://sites.google.com/ljisd.com/danielraven-ellison/home

During the month of May, Mrs. Capelo saw a post in the Community Network that National Geographic was accepting applications for a Teaching Assistant of their Geo-Inquiry Process online class.  She took a chance and applied.  She listed all of her qualifications: Her experience of teaching Project Based Learning through the TPSP curriculum; a training she took in the summer of 2006 through the district, Grosvenor Center for Geographic Education Texas State University:  Sustainable Water in the Rio Grande Basin Project; describing her responsibilities of online facilitating as the Campus Technologist; to being a Google Level 1 Certified Educator.  In the month of June, the Senior Manager of Digital Learning Design emailed her that he wanted to schedule an interview to tell her more about the position.  We had a video conference call, and a few days later, he contacted Mrs. Capelo to offer her the position.  Now she is Teaching Assistant for the Digital Learning Team for National Geographic.  She will facilitate the online class that is offered to 250 formal and informal educators from all over the world.

This August she applied for the National Geographic Explorer Exchange Program.  In this program, National Geographic Certified Educators participate on a one-to-one basis, collaborating with a National Geographic Explorer over the course of an entire school year.  She was one of the 20 educators selected to participate in this program.  Her students and herself will be working with a sea turtle biologist and conservationist from Costa Rica.  Thank you to Mrs. Capelo for “Shining Bright and Showing our La Joya ISD Pride”.