During a two-week period in December, the poetry and drawings of every fifth-grade student at Canyon Creek Elementary School visited Antarctica as part of Grisham Librarian Diane Hance visit through the National Geographic Grosvenor Teacher Fellows program.

Hance worked with Canyon Creek Librarian Julianne Bamford and the fifth-grade team of teachers to plan an opportunity to bridge the transition from elementary school to middle school, while also taking advantage of Hance’s professional development trip.

“Sixth grade students struggle even when they’re confident, so we wanted to have a connection between our fifth-grade students and Mrs. Hance,” Bamford said. “At first we just thought she’d do a presentation, but then the fifth-grade teachers ran with a poetry book that fit within their language arts unit. It was so much more than I expected.”

Hance was selected as one of 35 educators from the United States and Canada to participate in the 2016 Lindblad Expedition, which facilitated the group’s travel throughout Antarctica to learn from National Geographic naturalists. The fifth-grade classes researched land formations, the ships and animals before writing poems with hand-drawn art to include in the poetry book.

“It’s so cool how a tiny part of a school went to the bottom of the world where not a lot of people go,” said Anna Oberhoff, Canyon Creek fifth-grade student. “Having that experience is really cool.”

Along with the poetry, Hance also stayed connected with the Canyon Creek and Grisham communities through her Teacher Adventures blog. Students were invited to ask questions about the trip and Hance responded throughout the trip to continue the relationship and learning opportunity for the students.

Hance will visit Canyon Creek, Anderson Mill and Purple Sage elementary schools in February to share more about what she learned while in Antarctica. She will also be working with Grisham students during an enhanced Antarctica unit.

“Our goal was to bring the book of poems to Antarctica to give us a true bonding experience so our future students are excited about being Grizzlies,” Hance said. “It was a magical experience for the educators and naturalists because the poetry solidified the importance of the fellowship program and the opportunity for teachers to bring these experiences back to students.”