NHS teacher makes grade for trip to Middle East

NHS teacher makes grade for trip to Middle East
Posted on 09/12/2018
NHS teacher makes grade for trip to Middle EastSo, what are you doing this Christmas?

If the answer doesn’t include “visiting Qatar,” Nacogdoches High School’s Elyse Williams likely takes the award for most exotic locale during winter break.

Williams, a 10-year veteran educator in her first semester at NHS, will visit the small country located on the Arabian Peninsula Dec. 22 through Jan. 3, along with 14 other teachers from around the country as part of an educational tour arranged and funded by Qatar Foundation International and Global Exploration for Educators Organization (GEEO).

Williams applied for the trip back in May, while she was finishing up the year at Jacksonville High School, then learned just a few weeks ago she was accepted for the trip. Williams and 14 others were selected from more than 175 applicants nationwide.

At NHS, Williams teaches AP Human Geography, a course that instead of focusing solely on land masses, tracks and studies mankind’s cultures and development throughout the world.

“This is a fascinating opportunity for Ms. Williams that she can adapt for use her classroom,” said NHS principal Dr. Rom Crespo. “It will provide a point of view from the region that our students may not normally receive.

“To be selected out of so many applicants just shows the caliber of teachers we have at NHS. We are very proud of her and know she will represent Nacogdoches ISD well.”

The trip to Qatar and neighboring Oman is part of an effort to expose western educators to the region. It will give Williams an opportunity to see that part of the world for the first time, which should then provide her the ability to better explain the region to students. She’s already creating a lesson plan to include what she learns during the trip to Qatar.

The small country is adjacent to Saudi Arabia on the western edge of the Persian Gulf. The capital, Doha, that sits along the coast, has a population of 1.3 million. Qatar’s total population is around 2.6 million.

In recent years, the country has attracted substantial western investment. Texas A&M University has a campus there, and in 2022, the country will host soccer’s World Cup tournament.

It’s not the first time Williams has traveled with educational tours. She’s made similar trips to South Korea, Japan and Germany, all a part of her own effort to observe more of the world.

“It’s been a great experience,” she said. “I think more teachers should be aware of these opportunities.”

Visiting these distant ports of call provides Williams broader perspective that can then be relayed to students.

“I’m guilty of lumping the Arab world together,” she said. Having the opportunity to explore two vastly different countries in the Arabian Peninsula will add depth and texture to Williams’ understanding of the region.

“That’s why I’m looking forward to seeing some of their education systems,” Williams said.

Williams, a Houston native, spent nine years in Alvin ISD before moving to Nacogdoches a year ago to be closer to her boyfriend Dr. Brad Meyer,  Director of Percussion Studies at Stephen F. Austin State University. Last year she taught at Jacksonville High School before accepting a job to come to NHS.
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