MARICOPA — A standout Maricopa teacher has been recognized as one of the best in the nation.
Aidan Balt, an English teacher at Maricopa High School, received the Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms Program grant, which will give her a chance to travel abroad with 76 others who also received the award for the 2019-20 school year. The award was granted by the U.S. State Department and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.
The Fulbright Award recognizes teachers who have made significant academic and professional achievements while demonstrating leadership potential.
Balt is an Advanced Placement literature and composition teacher as well as a freshman gifted adviser and has been teaching at MHS for 10 years. According to Mishell Terry, coordinator of communications for Maricopa Unified School District, Balt has a hybrid role that allows her to teach half of the day and spend the rest as an academic coach.
She is also a national board-certified teacher who spoke at the fifth annual education summit in Washington, D.C., in May in partnership The Atlantic magazine.
The flagship international education exchange program allows teachers, students, scholars, artists, professionals and scientists from the U.S. to build relations with those from other countries to solve global challenges, according to Fulbright Teacher Exchanges. The program operates in more than 160 countries.
The Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms grant, which Balt received, is a year-long program that invites elementary, middle and high school teachers to develop skills for students for a competitive global economy. It allows teachers to collaborate globally and earn international perspective through targeted training and experiences abroad. The field experience is two to three weeks.
Those who have been part of the Fulbright programs have achieved global recognition such as the Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize.
Balt initially applied to the program in the spring of 2018 and found out that she got the position about a week ago. She knew of the program since she was in high school, where one of her teachers, also her mentor, was a Fulbright scholar.
With the program, she is planning to travel to Washington, D.C., in January and to an assigned overseas location for two to three weeks. The program focuses on action research, according to Balt.
“I was very excited, honestly, I wasn’t expecting to get it. Receiving a Fulbright is pretty rare,” Balt said. “I didn’t have high expectations so I was surprised and happy.”
Her fellow teachers and administrative staff have been very supportive of the award she received and see it as an opportunity for her to grow as a teacher, according to Balt.
“This gives me a chance to work directly with kids through intervention. I have to expand my own skill and I am able to share that with other teachers,” Balt said. “It is contributing to a bigger impact on campus.”