Warna Gillies, PhD, program chair and professor for the Master of Arts in Teaching program at University of Maryland University College, was recently selected for a Fulbright Specialist award and soon will begin a multi-week service exchange at the DelCampo International School in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Gillies will provide guidance to school leadership and teachers in curriculum alignment, conduct classroom observations, and help the school prepare for re-accreditation with the U.S. accrediting organization AdvancEd.
"It means a great deal to me to cross borders and work with educators in another country who hold the same values and commitments that teachers have the world over," said Gillies. "In our shared journey as teachers, we strive to provide the best possible educational experiences and impact student learning. I will not just be contributing to the school communities in Honduras, but also will be enriched by the experience."
Over the course of her career, Gillies has gained experience in many different international environments, which contributes to her ability to carry out the Fulbright mission. As the founding director and manager of education for the U.S. Navy's Atlantic Underwater Test and Evaluation Center on Andros Island, Bahamas, she managed the school from its construction, through employment and training of the teaching staff, curriculum development, and accreditation.
Gillies also volunteered as an evaluator for schools seeking accreditation from AdvancEd and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Since 1998, she has visited 20 American and international schools as a member of AdvancEd accreditation teams. Her work involved collaborating with schools to develop self-study processes devoted to ongoing improvement toward achieving accreditation. She considers these visits to have been invaluable in enriching her knowledge and allowing her to share best practices among schools.
"I met Dr. Gillies when she was part of the AdvancED external review team that came to DelCampo School last year," said Eloisa Maria Rodriguez Alvarez, director of the DelCampo school and a Fulbright awardee in her own right. "When I realized she was a Fulbright Specialist, we decided to apply for and requested Dr. Gillies. [Her] expertise in teaching, teacher training, [as a] certified AdvancED evaluator, and previous experience with DelCampo School makes her the ideal person to help us continuing improving and growing as a school."
Gillies also worked with the U.S. Department of State as an educational specialist, travelling to 34 posts between 2011 and 2014 and teaching Foreign Service Institute leadership courses to supervisors and employees of U.S. embassies in Europe. She was recognized with the Meritorious Honor Award for her service to the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs.
In her current position as MAT program chair at UMUC, Gillies works with teacher candidates who reside in the United States and at various international locations, including MAT interns who have taught in Germany, Bahrain, Bolivia, and Australia. Gillies believes that, regardless of one's depth of international experience, each occasion to work with colleagues from other countries brings a rich opportunity for professional and personal growth.
Gillies has a PhD in educational leadership and public administration from George Mason University.
About the Fulbright Specialist program
The Fulbright Program was founded by U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright in 1946 and is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The Fulbright Specialist Program allows overseas universities, cultural centers, nongovernmental organizations and other institutions abroad to develop collaborative projects which host a leading U.S. academic or professional at their institution to work on diverse, short-term collaborative projects focused on education and training that support the priorities identified by the host institutions.
Fulbright Specialists are a diverse group of highly experienced, well-established faculty members and professionals who represent a variety of academic disciplines and professions. To be eligible to serve as a Fulbright Specialist, candidates must have significant experience in their respective professional field and be a U.S. citizen at the time of application.