Fulbright scholar Charlotte Potter sees teaching children as a way to learn more about herself and her place in society.
Potter graduated from Stonehill College in 2019 with a dual degree in elementary education and English. She is a graduate and class essayist of the MVRHS class of 2015, and grew up on the Island with her parents, Robert and Deborah Potter of Oak Bluffs.
While she was a student there, she went through the rigorous process of becoming a William J. Fulbright scholar — working with the grant officer at school to finalize a draft application, moving to the final round of selection, and ultimately being accepted in March of 2018.
“It was a really long process, but was certainly worth the wait,” Potter told The Times.
As part of Potter’s scholarship, she will travel to Athens, Greece, in August and work with the Hellenic American Education Foundation at Athens College.
The scholarship program, created by Arkansas Sen. William J. Fulbright in 1945, allows for “promotion of international good will through the exchange of students in the fields of education, culture, and science,” according to the Fulbright website.
Potter said she is excited to immerse herself in a new culture and pursue her passion of educating children.
Potter plans on learning alongside her students: about culture, language, and the societal dynamics of another country.
“I am really going to be equal parts student and teacher,” Potter said. “Some values of Greek culture are similar to those in America, while others are very different.”
Potter said she looks forward to not just teaching students core curriculum and general education, but to “educating the whole child.”
“Studies prove that, in order to successfully teach a child, you need to educate the whole person — their mind, heart, and body.”
Potter said she takes a more hands-on approach to teaching. Keeping a child active while they are in a classroom setting is essential to an effective education, she said.
“I am excited to balance academic rigor with social and emotional education,” Potter said. “Because all of those things put together are what really enrich a child’s experience in school.”
While in Greece, Potter will be assigned to various primary schools based on her teaching strengths.
During her time not spent teaching, Potter said she plans on exploring the ancient city, learning about Greek language and history, and most of all, fulfilling her passion for Greek literature.
“I am a total Greek literature nerd, so going to Greece is like my dream,” Potter said. “I am going to get to see the literature come to life right in front of me.”
She also hopes to spend time with her sister, Samantha, who will be attending Oxford University in England.
“It’s so easy and cheap to travel in Europe, so I definitely am going to find time to visit her and check out England,” Potter said.
Potter said the Fulbright fellowship teaches people how to view other communities and how to view their place in those communities.
“For me, I want to be an ally and a resource to the community, but I also want to be an active part of it,” Potter said. “That way, you aren’t looking through an outside lens, you are really seeing life how other people in the community see it.”
And Potter said she plans on taking that knowledge back to the United States with her in order to enrich her own community as well.
“I want to bring back a piece of that culture, of that feeling of togetherness,” Potter said. “Greek life is so centered around community and family, it’s something we really need to embrace as much as possible.”
Potter hopes to come back and work in a general education classroom before pursuing an advanced degree in either Special Education, Curriculum Design, or Teaching English as a Second Language.
“We are in a society where we have so much to learn, and I think we can learn a lot from each other.”