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Employee Spotlight: Katy Turnbull

Participate Learning is a force for good that connects teachers and students through global education programs to foster human understanding and create peace. In order to achieve this, our ambassadors need relevant support and resources to succeed in their classroom environments so that their students become culturally aware, open-minded global citizens.

This would not be possible without the dedication and commitment of our teacher experience team who work tirelessly to train and prepare teachers to succeed both professionally and personally in the United States. Read on to learn more about Katy Turnbull, manager of professional learning and culture on our teacher experience team.

Path to Participate Learning

Prior to joining Participate Learning, Katy led beginning teacher training and supported beginning teacher-coaches in a national non-profit devoted to educational equity. In 2017, she participated in a year-long adult learning certification program that helped her hone her knowledge and expertise to create dynamic and impactful adult learning experiences, which made her the perfect fit for her role on the teacher experience team.

Katy’s primary professional goal is to foster community through collective learning experiences, which she says relates directly to her role as manager of professional learning and culture. When asked about how her goals contribute to her work, Katy stated, “I feel incredibly grateful to be in a position where my passion and purpose have aligned so seamlessly.”

A Day in the Life

On a typical workday, Katy spends most of her time collaborating with the rest of the teacher experience team. As a department, they are constantly planning, designing, and executing learning and community-building experiences for our ambassadors. These experiences are essential in ensuring each ambassador feels supported and prepared to succeed in their American classrooms.

Katy loves seeing all of the creative ways ambassadors share their own cultures and other cultures around the world with their students. Giovanna Arcari, a current ambassador with Participate Learning, once described their work as “Putting the big world in little hands.” Katy says this sentiment captures what she loves most about learning from our ambassadors and seeing their influence on students.

Building relationships with ambassadors is at the very core of the work Katy does, so she says the biggest challenge of her job has been grappling with the impact of COVID-19. She has had to be creative to find ways to connect with teachers while in-person learning and community-building is not currently possible.

Fostering Meaningful Connections

Connection is a huge value for Katy, and she finds purpose in fostering meaningful connections among people. She loves that Participate Learning’s mission promotes connections between educators, students, and schools through global learning. One of her favorite memories with Participate Learning was building connections with incoming teachers at Orientation 2019 and helping them adjust to life and teaching in the U.S.

Currently, Katy is excited to be working on the summer series of Race in America conversations with our ambassador teachers. She hopes that we are at a major turning point in American history where we turn away from systemic racism and turn toward a more just and equitable society. Katy remarked on the purpose of the summer series, saying,

“It feels really important and necessary to create spaces for our ambassador teachers to process their role in this turn toward justice in their own American classrooms.”

When asked about a teacher who influenced her, Katy said her 11th grade English teacher, Dr. Jon Miller, left the greatest impact. His advice to his students was to find the great professors in college and take their classes because “You can read Shakespeare, teach yourself a musical instrument, or study any subject in your own backyard, but you can only learn from a great teacher in the classroom.”

Thanks to the dedication of Katy and the entire teacher experience team, our ambassadors are equipped to succeed in their classrooms and build meaningful relationships with their students. To hear firsthand about the experiences of our ambassadors, check out these videos. For information on how you can teach with Participate Learning too, check out our application requirements.