Spotlight on Turkey

This professional development program for teachers highlights Turkish culture and history and is presented in partnership with the Turkish Cultural Foundation and the World Affairs Councils of America. The program includes a free workshop for teachers held at SNHU in spring; the selection of four workshop participants to travel to a Turkey for a study tour in summer with teachers from across the country; and a community program on Turkish culture and history in the fall. For more information about future programs, contact our office or visit the TCF website.


Patsy Beaver, Windham Middle School;

Ralph Sommese,Fairgrounds Middle School in Nashua;

Julia Roberts, Saint Mary Academy in Dover;
Orah Bilmes, Rhode Island.


Holly Gladsden, Wilton Lyndeborough Coop

Jeremy Hall, Bishop Brady High School

Kelly Nelson, LinWood Public School

Peter Schmidt, Pinkerton Academy

Michele Thomas, Wilton-Lyndeborough High School
James Choquette, Londonderry High School

Nancy Gagnon, Conval High School in Peterborough
Shannon Fernald, Portsmouth High School
Fay Montelione, Portsmouth High School
Judy Perry from Moultonborough Academy



Michele Thomas clutches a new iPad, a device she will use to upload photos from her travels in Turkey this summer.

A Turkish sojourn

June 2011

WILTON undefined For many, a trip to Turkey is a once in a lifetime opportunity. For Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative High School teacher Michele Thomas, her two-week visit this summer will likely be relived over and over as she shares it with students for years to come.

Thomas is one of the two New Hampshire teachers joining 57 other middle school and high school teachers across the country that were also chosen to participate in the Teacher Study Tours program this year, which departed for Turkey on Sunday.

“This trip really fits into most of what I teach,” said Thomas in an interview on Friday. “I really feel honored that I was chosen undefined like I have been given this big gift.”

The program is organized and sponsored by the Turkish Cultural Foundation, in cooperation with the World Affairs Council of America. To qualify for participation, Thomas, a history and social studies teacher, had to come up with project ideas that would transform her cultural experience into learning for the students. Thomas decided to give her students live updates from Turkey through digital media, which she has called “Trekking Through Turkey with Mrs.Thomas.”

She has brought a new friend, a brand new iPad, along with her to record and share the experience with her students. Thomas said she is using the device to snap photos of the many cultural landmarks and regions of the country, which she will upload daily to photo website Flickr along with email updates during her 14-day journey.

“I’m not the most familiar with technology, but this past year my goal was to use online resources,” she said.

Her journey will start in Istanbul, Turkey’s capital, and take her across Western Turkey, where she will visit landmarks such as the Ephesus, the Basilica of St. John, the site of ancient Troy and Gallipoli.

On the tour, she will meet with representatives of civil society organizations, participate in workshops by Turkish artists and get the chance to meet fellow Turkish teachers and students during school visits.

She will use her experience to develop curriculum that will expand her student’s understanding of the Middle East upon her return. She will also be working with the World Affairs Council to share her experiences with students outside the Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative and the local community.

Thomas said she has a “very experiential approach” to teaching and likes to let students learn outside of the textbook.

“The experience is the most important part of learning,” she said.

She has been a resident on Mont Vernon for nine years, but lived in Germany for a time and has traveled everywhere from Ireland to Australia. She had yet to visit Turkey before this week, something that she is very excited about.

“Turkey, because of its location, has been inhabited by more cultures and great civilizations than most people understand,” she said. “There are all these connections. When you go to Turkey, you see a long expansive time period of archeological treasure.”

Thomas said she loves experiencing new cultures and strongly believes in the idea of a world community.

“We have more in common than separates us,” she said. “The more we are exposed to each other, the better the world is going to be.”


PHS teachers will share travel experiences in Turkey

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Portsmouth High School teachers Shannon Fernald and Fay Montelione spent two weeks in Turkey this past summer and will share their experience during Turkish Nights, Turkish Delights, beginning at 6 p.m. Wednesday at PHS. Courtesy photo

PORTSMOUTH undefined This week, two Portsmouth High School teachers will show the community the "Turkish Nights and Turkish Delights" they experienced over two weeks spent undefined and 1,700 miles traveled undefined in Turkey over the summer.

"It was quite a trip and the most amazing experience," said Fay Montelione, a PHS geography teacher who, with fellow teacher Shannon Fernald, traveled to Turkey from July 16 to 24 through the Turkish Cultural Foundation and the World Affairs Council of New Hampshire.

"In exchange, they want us to promote the Turkish culture, and we came up with this idea," Montelione said.

From 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 17, at Portsmouth High, Fernald and Montelione will host Turkish Nights, Turkish Delights. The event will include a slideshow of the teachers' experience, Turkish cuisine made by the PHS Culinary Arts Program, a Turkish bazaar filled with items from local artisans, and an indoor yard sale. The event and culinary offerings are free, but donations will be accepted to benefit a school in a Turkish village.

To hold the event, the teachers have partnered with programs in the high school, including culinary arts and Web design. Teacher Terra Merry held a competition among students to create a flier to promote the evening, and sophomore Lily McClure's design is now on display throughout the school.

While in Turkey, Montelione and Fernald visited 12 cities undefined including Istanbul, Iznik, Aphrodisias, Konya and Cappadocia undefined and visited landmarks such as the Hagia Sophia and the Grand Bazaar.

The two traveled with a group of 25 teachers from across the Eastern seaboard. The Portsmouth teachers were selected after attending a workshop and submitting letters of intent and recommendations. Both said they had dreamed of a trip to Turkey for years and "this was the golden opportunity that fell into our laps," Montelione said.

In her course focusing on the modern Middle East, Fernald said the class talks of Turkey as a "bridge" to that region.

"But it's so much more than that. It's a beautiful culture, amazing history," Montelione said, adding that Turkey has become a larger part of her and Fernald's classes. "The history was probably a shock for us. It's hard as a social studies teacher to focus on one place, but there is so much to do. We've been bitten by it and it's hard not to tell the students how vital this place is."

Films like "Midnight Express" have fostered a negative impression of Turkey, and when the teachers told friends and family about their trip, they received a variety of reactions. But the two said they never felt unsafe or unwelcome in the country; in fact, they felt quite the opposite.

"They're a loyal friend to the U.S. in a region we often don't know who our friends and enemies are," Montelione said.

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