WESTMONT – Westmont Junior High School teacher Nancy Bartosz continues to use her travels as an educational tool.
A CUSD 201 employee of 20 years, Bartosz, 43, of Chicago, spent a year traveling around the world in 2012 before resuming her teaching career with the district and incorporating her stories in lesson plans.
"I think it's important to use real world experiences when teaching students," she said. "My mission is to engage the community and build global connections for our youth."
On May 7, Bartosz, now an eighth grade literacy teacher at the junior high, was one of 22 educators who spent the day at the White House participating in a conference for National Teacher's Appreciation Week.
The week before the event, Bartosz filled out an application after seeing a Facebook post by the U.S. Department of Education. Within days, she was notified of her acceptance and boarded a plan to Washington D.C. on May 6.
"It was a straightforward application process, but I think my responses stood out because of my travels, my digital footprint and the different roles that I have taken on at the junior high and high school," she said.
During the White House Social event, guests met national leaders and policy makers, including Second Lady Jill Biden and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, for roundtable discussions on educational excellence and student preparedness.
Attendees were required to live Tweet the events using the "WHSocial" hashtag and capture their experiences on other social media sites such as Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.
Bartosz shared her trip the Twitter handle, @Westmont8th, and her timeline was projected in the junior high commons area for all to see. She also corresponded with multiple students, who intermittently tweeted at her throughout the day.
After watching President Barack Obama board the Marine One helicopter, the group proceeded to a conference room in the Eisenhower executive office building, where Jill Biden led a discussion about the Joining Forces Initiative and the children's book that she authored, "Don't Forget, God Bless Our Troops."
"I really enjoyed hearing the experiences of Dr. Biden – I think all the teachers did," Bartosz said. "She is a lifelong educator and still teaches at the community college. She has a very warm, lovely personality and was very easy to relate to."
The speakers also detailed various professional learning opportunities that are readily available for teachers. Afterwards, Bartosz said she plans to look upcoming summer education camp.
"Ed camps provide a place where teachers can learn how to make schools less administration centered and more teacher centered," she said. I also learned about Maker Affairs, which focus on technology, science math and inventing. It would be nice to bring those skills back to the community."
Bartosz's students will also benefit from her trip to the white house, as she plans to incorporate everything she leaned into various eighth grade lesson plans.
"For me, the most powerful message that I can take back to my students relates to their digital footprint," she said. "During the conference, we talked about how to represent yourself online. Not only is it important to be aware of the negative uses of social media, but also the positive ways kids can cultivate a digital footprint.
"I was also blown away by the amount of young professionals and students that work at the White House. They are no different than students that might graduate from this district. Since returning I have told my classes that if there is something you want, apply for it, because you never know what might happen."
Get to know Nancy Bartosz
What: Eighth grade literacy teacher at Westmont Junior High School
Learn more about White House initiatives and socials at www.whitehouse.gov/blog