“You’ve Got to Do Things That are Scary Sometimes!”

Reluctant Mitchell County Teacher Travels with Us to Australia:
“You’ve Got to do Things That are Scary Sometimes!”

It’s a big leap to travel with strangers to a strange country, trusting that Go Global staff has your back! For Mitchell County Teacher of the Year Michelle Lord, that leap had an added layer of stress: fear of flying. When her superintendent called with the exciting news that Lord had been selected to travel to Australia with Go Global NC, her response was: “I cannot do that!” Her superintendent said that she could do it, indeed would do it.

And she did.

“I conquered my own fear, which was personal growth for me,” Lord said. “It pushed me outside of my comfort zone.” This is a lesson she shares with her school: “I talk to students in my building, and tell them, ‘You’ve got to do things that are scary sometimes.’”

Lord teaches in her hometown of Bakersville (population less than 500) at the same school she attended as a student.

Since returning to Mitchell County from Australia, she has infused her rural school with a more global mindset. Students from all grade levels stop her in the hall wanting to hear about what she experienced in Australia: the Great Barrier Reef, aboriginal schools, Sydney Opera House, schools that inspire entrepreneurship. Borrowing from what she saw in Australia, she says she has encouraged fellow teachers to use their outdoor spaces to teach – a lesson here, a lunch hour there – to take advantage of fresh air and their natural surroundings.

Her journey has also inspired a long-term goal. Lord was struck by the strong cultural identity and pride in ancestry that she saw in both urban and rural schools Down Under.

“They really honored their ancestors, those who owned the land before,” Lord said. “I saw a lot of ownership and pride in where they came from. We should do more of that; we just don’t talk about it as much as they do in Australia.”

A 28-year veteran, once she retires, Lord wants her legacy to be one of bringing local culture into the school and instilling the same sense of pride she felt from Australian youth. From studying the indigenous tribes that traveled the Roan Mountains, to understanding the prevalent Scotch-Irish heritage of today, Lord wants to be an ambassador for nurturing Mitchell County students’ ownership and pride in their ancestry.

Learn more about our Global Teachers Fellowship.