Toyota International Teacher Program Sends 20 U.S. Teachers to Costa Rica

January 18, 2007

January 18, 2007 – Torrance, CA - Twenty U.S. teachers, chosen as educational ambassadors through the Toyota International Teacher Program, will spend 10 days this spring exploring Costa Rica—the cultural and biological crossroads between North and South America.

Ranked among the 20 most biologically diverse countries in the world and home to more than a half million species of plants and animals, Costa Rica is a first-time destination for the Toyota program, which has an nine-year heritage of providing teachers the opportunity to build environmental awareness and global perspectives by visiting worldwide locations.

While traveling in Costa Rica, participants will learn how innovative strategies are being implemented in the areas of development, agronomy and conservation from experts at the internationally recognized National Biodiversity Institute (INBio). After a visit to Costa Rica's National Museum, the teachers will build on their theoretical knowledge with field visits to important pre-Columbian archeological sites, and at EARTH University, the teachers will participate in projects focused on sustainable agriculture in the tropics. Near the city of San Carlos, the teachers will also have the opportunity to discuss best practices in environmental education with Costa Rican educators.

The delegation of 20 U.S. teachers represent nine states this year – Arizona, California, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin. With multidisciplinary backgrounds ranging from science to art, the selected teachers will bring their unique perspectives to those they meet in Costa Rica, and upon the teachers' return to the U.S., their experiences will be incorporated into classroom curricula and community projects, providing students the kind of 21st century education they need for success in an increasingly global future.

"We are proud to offer the nation's teachers a program that promotes the understanding of cultural and environmental conservation methods that they can take back to their schools and communities,” said Michael Rouse, corporate manager, philanthropy and community affairs at Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc. "Costa Rica is the perfect destination, as it is a country on the forefront of protecting its ecosystems as well as maintaining its cultural heritage."

Funded through an annual $1.2 million grant from TMS, the Toyota International Teacher Program is the only one of its kind sponsored by a major U.S. corporation.

This year's trip to Costa Rica will take place March 8 through 20 and will include rigorous physical activities as participants explore program locations in the country's lowlands and highlands. Overall, the Toyota International Teacher Program has greatly surpassed expectations regarding long-term value and impact. Building on the original program design, the study tour to Costa Rica offers increased opportunities for American educators to build closer, ongoing relationships with the teachers and community leaders they meet due to the country's greater accessibility.

The 20 educators traveling to Costa Rica teach a variety of subjects and were selected based on their professional and leadership qualifications, as well as their plans to incorporate their experiences and research into their curriculum. To be eligible, teachers must be a U.S. citizen, employed full-time as a secondary classroom teacher (grades 7-12) and have a minimum of three years teaching experience.

The Institute of International Education (IIE) in Washington, D.C., the nation's most experienced non-profit international exchange organization, administers the program. "The Toyota International Teacher Program is a unique opportunity for U.S. educators to dialogue with experts, participate in hands-on learning activities and interact with colleagues in education in Costa Rica—all the tools they will need to bring global perspectives and environmental issues to the forefront of their curricula and classrooms," said IIE President and CEO Dr. Allan E. Goodman.

The trip to Costa Rica is just one of the professional development programs for teachers that Toyota sponsors. Toyota is also offering study visits to Japan and the Galapagos Islands in 2007. The Toyota program strives to expose educators of all classroom disciplines to the diversity of peoples and ecosystems worldwide in an effort to inspire the creative teaching of international, cultural and environmental themes in U.S. schools and communities.

Founded in 1957, TMS is the sales, marketing, distribution and customer service arm of Toyota, Lexus and Scion in the United States, marketing products and services through a network of 1,415 dealers in 49 states.

The teachers selected to participate in the 2007 Costa Rica professional development program are:

Jeffrey Hartman		City High School	   		Tucson	

Patricia Blanco		South High School			Torrance
Oscar Espinoza		Roosevelt Middle School			Compton		
Alex Fisher		Granada High School			Livermore
Isabel Morales		Belmont High School			Los Angeles

Audrey Adair-Hauser	LaVoy Exceptional Center		Tampa
Michael Manetz		Lincoln Middle School			Gainesville	
Anthonette Pena	Howell  L. Watkins Middle School	   	Palm Beach Gardens

Andrea Hanlon		Prairie Middle School			Cedar Rapids	

Marty Loupe		University Laboratory High School	Baton Rouge

North Carolina
Bryan Bishop		Eugene Ashley High School	   	Wilmington		
Karen Helms		Mt. Olive Middle School  		Mt. Olive

Tami Gilmour		State College Area High School		State College
Heidi Kohne		North Hills Junior High School		Pittsburgh
Jessica Naugle		Walter Biddle Saul School of 		Philadelphia
                        Agricultural Sciences			
Cynthia Barrett		Sandra Day O'Connor High School		Helotes
Teresa Duffus		Campbell Middle School			Houston
Joseph Segura		Harlandale High School			San Antonio

Catherine Lau		Marshfield High School			Marshfield
Paul McLeod 		Conserve School				Land O'Lakes

About Toyota's Education Programs
In addition to sponsoring a number of nonprofit educational organizations, Toyota offers three major programs that support teachers with grants and students with scholarships; Toyota TAPESTRY, the largest K-12 science teacher grant program of its kind in the U.S.; Toyota Community Scholars, which provides 100 scholarships to high school seniors based on academics and community service and the Toyota International Teacher Program. Toyota also supports scholarships through the Hispanic Scholarship Fund; United Negro College Fund; Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation; National FFA and the American Indian College Fund. In 2005, Toyota USA contributed nearly $41 million to U.S. philanthropic programs, with a majority of funding supporting education. For more information, visit or contact

About the Institute of International Education
An independent, nonprofit organization founded in 1919, the Institute is the world's most experienced global higher education and professional exchange organization. IIE designs and implements over 250 programs of study and training for students, educators, young professionals and trainees from all sectors with funding from government and private sources. IIE also conducts policy research and provides advice and counseling on international educational opportunities abroad. The Institute of International Education has a network of 15 offices worldwide, over 800 college and university members and more than 5,000 volunteers. Information about IIE can be obtained from IIE's Web site:, or by contacting Nancy Overholt at


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