LEAD Student named 2019 NEA Foundation Global Learning Fellow

Cody Vest, a student in the UCA Interdisciplinary PhD in Leadership Studies, or LEAD, program, will work with 50 other educators from around the nation during a 12-month long training program focused on global professional development.

Vest was named one of the National Education Association Foundation’s Global Learning Fellows of 2019. The Fellows will apply their training during an international field-study where they will travel to South Africa to work with local educators, students, administrators and policy-makers in late July of next year.

Any member of the NEA Foundation can apply for this fellowship, and the organization chooses one educator at most per state. Vest said this year is only the second year that the program has been accepting applications, instead of automatically granting the fellowship to each state’s Teacher of the Year. He said he applied a year ago and found out in May he had been named a fellow for the upcoming year.

Vest is a member of the second cohort in UCA’s LEAD program. He has completed his coursework and hopes to finish his dissertation and receive his doctorate in spring 2019. Having always wanted to pursue a PhD, he said when he found the program at UCA, it was just the right fit.

“They had a branch specifically for K-12 educators,” Vest said.

Emily Lane, the project director for the Arkansas Tobacco Settlement Commission evaluations on LEAD staff, said the program is interdisciplinary and draws from leaders in the public sector.

“We are a marriage of leadership, research and social change,” Lane said.

Vest said his time in the program was great and the dissertation has taken him a bit of time because of his full-time job teaching 10th and 12th grade students at Rogers Heritage High School.

“I am very passionate about global education and traveling and just exposing [students]to the fact that there’s a much larger world outside of Rogers, Arkansas, than what they realize.”

This passion is an important quality for NEA Foundation Fellows according to the foundation’s website. The overview for the Global Learning Fellowship reads, “Through the NEA Foundation Global Learning Fellowship, public school educators develop the knowledge and skills to integrate global competency into their daily classroom instruction, advocate for global competency in their schools and districts and help students to thrive in our increasingly interconnected world. Fellows transform their classrooms to give students a global perspective.”

He and the other fellows will work during the school year through workshops, webinars and courses to prepare for their field-study country. They have already completed a two-day professional development workshop held in Washington D.C., where they were divided into groups with each individual educator having a specific task.

“I’m working on the freshman lesson plans for global competency,” Vest said.

The field-study in South Africa will take place next summer.

More information about the NEA Foundation and the other 2019 Global Learning Fellows can be found at

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