A Love of Learning: Sarah Levine taking her teaching to next level with prestigious Fulbright Award

Williston English teacher Sarah Levine doesn’t just love teaching—she loves learning, too. Thanks to a Fulbright Award, this year she’ll be doing both: teaching her usual classes at Williston, while taking classes herself as part of the Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms Program.

Levine earned a spot in the Fulbright program after applying last year. As the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program, the Fulbright Program helps connect teachers from across the United States with teachers from around the globe. Fulbright alumni include 60 Nobel Prize laureates and 89 Pulitzer Prize winners. According to the Fulbright website, the Global Classrooms Program “equips educators to bring an international perspective to their schools through targeted training, experience abroad, and global collaboration.”

“I just love learning,” Levine said of what brought her to apply. “It seemed like a great time to pursue a new opportunity and just to be re-inspired again as a teacher. I get inspiration from many places— from my students, from connections I make with other teachers, from developing and designing curriculum and new pedagogy, and just throwing myself into new experiences.”

Levine’s program will see her take an online class, followed by an in-person conference in Washington, D.C., and then an exchange program next summer to a country outside the U.S. All the while, Levine will be learning about pedagogy with teachers of myriad experiences. “It seems too good to be true,” Levine says of the program. “I can’t imagine a better experience or opportunity.”

Professional development isn’t a new concept to Levine, who is entering her fifth year at Williston and teaches in both the Middle and Upper Schools. She learned of the Fulbright program through a professional development class last summer through the National Endowment for the Humanities. Several of her colleagues there suggested the Fulbright program as a great next opportunity. When Levine pitched the idea to Dean of Faculty Corinne Fogg ’99, Fogg encouraged her to pursue it.

“This opportunity is one she thoughtfully prepared for,” Fogg said, “pondering how a Fulbright would give her the chance to grow and learn—but also how it might impact her students and their learning experience. Even as she pursued a chance at a unique distinction such as this, Sarah kept her students at the center of her planning.”

Indeed, Levine noted that while these opportunities advance her knowledge of how to teach, it’s in benefit of providing a more inclusive classroom environment. “The teacher I aspire to be, and hope I’m becoming, is somebody who’s compassionate and empathetic—somebody who deeply wants to connect with their students and with others and see the world from their perspective.”

The online class portion of the Fulbright program runs from September through December, and will include papers and projects for Levine to complete. In February, she will attend and present at an educational conference in the nation’s capital. As for where she will go on the exchange, Levine said she has not been given a final destination yet. Wherever she goes, though, Levine is eager to get to work and learn.

“I’m still processing it, but I’m so, so honored and just really excited to jump right in and to meet other people and learn as much as possible,” Levine said. “I just want to listen and learn and just be the best teacher I can be. And I know this class will also just give me skills and tools to be a better person, too.”

Outside of the classroom, Levine is an accomplished poet, winning the Westchester Review’s Writers Under 30 prize and has been nominated for a Pushcart prize. Levine’s work has appeared in Best New Poets, PANK, Fourteen Hills, Green Mountains Review, and other literary journals. Her poetry chapbook, Take Me Home, was published in October 2020 by Finishing Line Press. She was awarded the school’s Richard C. Gregory Faculty Chair at Convocation in 2022.