Alumna puts a global focus in her classroom

April 26, 2011

Bradley alumna Angela Lathem has been all over the globe in her travels and studies. After a childhood in Normal, Illinois, her adult life has been anything but normal. She has taught in Peruvian schools with no running water or electricity, taught PowerPoint to a Russian class that had only one, outdated computer, and this year she has her sights set on China, as one of 15 members of the China Institute’s Summer Study Tour.

Lathem obtained her master’s degree in Education: Curriculum and Instruction from Bradley in 2005, after receiving a bachelor’s degree in theatre from the University of Illinois. She teaches a third-grade class at La Jolla Country Day School in California and puts her drama background to use through various extracurricular performing arts programs.

The China Institute is an organization focused on promoting understanding of Chinese culture in the U.S. through business, art and education. Every summer it holds a Summer Study Tour, in which a select group of American educators travel to China to learn more about the country’s culture and educational system. They meet with education experts, obtain new curriculum materials and learn how to transfer their new skills to American classrooms.

After completing the month-long tour, the group members return to the United States and put their new knowledge to work in their own classrooms. Throughout the school year, the educators continue to work with the China Institute to develop their curricula and teaching methods, and they present at education conferences throughout the year.

Lathem became deeply involved in many organizations during her time at Bradley. She was a member of several honors and professional organizations, performed in theatrical productions and served as a student member of the EHS Advisory Council. Along with Dr. Heljä Antola Crowe and two undergraduate students, she also obtained a grant for teachers and schools that were affected by Hurricane Katrina. She credits Dr. Antola Crowe as one of the most important influences from her time at Bradley.

“I owe my educational life to her,” said Lathem. “I wouldn’t trade my experiences at Bradley for anything.”

Lathem’s time in Peru, Russia and soon China are part of her belief in the importance of understanding other cultures in the modern world.

“I’m fascinated by education and how it exists throughout the world,” she said. “I have a goal in my heart to experience education on all of the continents.”