Mira Costa High School Educator Michael Hernandez was recently honored with a 2021 Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship, which will allow him to explore a faraway land with other educators and bring that knowledge back to his students and colleagues.

The Fellowship (GTF) is a partnership between Lindblad Expeditions and the National Geographic Society and is geared to help the 50 chosen from hundreds of candidates from around the United States and Canada to bring “geographic awareness” back from their exploration.

“The idea behind it is to send us on an expedition to have the experience of what it's like to be a National Geographic Explorer, and to take that experience both before during and after to develop curriculum that we can bring back to our students at school, and also to share with other teachers around the world,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez said he learned he was chosen about a year ago, but the pandemic halted the final announcement of those chosen for the GTF. Currently he does not know where the expedition will take him with a team of marine biologists, geologists, historians, scientists, undersea specialists and National Geographic photographers.

Hernandez said he hopes his experience will help to translate into documentary and journalism projects to enhance his curriculum and help develop a global mindset for his students instead of “living in a bubble,” whether it’s in the South Bay or in America.

“I think is probably the most important part of what we can do as teachers is to help kids see multiple perspectives … to see that there are other ways of seeing the world, other ways of living and other viewpoints that are just as valid if not more valid than our own,” Hernandez said.

“There are real world implications of their lifestyle right now, how we live, how we move around, how much energy we consume, what kind of food we eat,” Hernandez added. “All these things have an impact on the world in terms of climate change.”

Hernandez, who was named Los Angeles County Teacher of the Year for 2015-16, founded the Media Arts Program, which includes cinematic arts, journalism and broadcast journalism instruction, at Mira Costa in 1999. Over his years at the high school, he has been honored as an Apple Distinguished Educator, Google for Education Certified Innovator and PBS Digital Innovator.

He also advises the Mustang Morning News and has joined his students on trips to Cambodia, Cuba and Vietnam to film documentaries.

“Part of the National Geographic Explorer mindset is storytelling… it's not just doing science,” Hernandez said. “It's also telling the story of the people and the landscapes, what's going on. We do that in my classroom every day, but this is gonna be a great opportunity to elevate that and to really drive home and show my kids.”

Contact this reporter at mhixon@tbrnews.com or on Twitter @michaeljhixon.com.

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