Published: Nov 29, 2010 7:40 PM EST
Updated: Nov 29, 2010 4:40 PM EST

LEE COUNTY, Fla - Lee County Public Schools is proud to announce that Joy Cooper, a Bonita Springs Middle School teacher is one of 24 U.S. educators travelling to Galapagos through the Toyota International Teacher Program. Ms. Cooper is currently visiting the islands – the trip is scheduled from November 20th through December 4th.

Ms. Cooper is an art teacher at Bonita Springs Middle. This opportunity will allow her to explore solutions to environmental challenges and gain valuable insight into the human impact on Galapagos' fragile ecosystem.  While in Galapagos, she will learn about model conservation initiatives and meet with biologists and conservation experts as they explore the natural wonders of the World Heritage Site.

“What a tremendous experience,” said Dr. Lawrence Tihen, Interim Superintendent of Schools. “Ms. Cooper is going to experience things most of us can only dream about – what an amazing honor.”

Ms. Cooper is one of only 24 educators selected from more than 850 applicants from 22 states. She was chosen through a competitive, merit-based process administered by the Institute of International Education (IIE), the nation’s most experienced nonprofit educational exchange organization. Selection criteria included professional qualifications, evidence of interest in international education, and feasibility of incorporating the environmental study experience into the curriculum.

This is the 12th year of the Toyota program that sees educators complete a two-week study-tour to a country  where finding innovative solutions to environmental challenges are the highest priority.