Educators That Rock!

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Bill Reilly in Saudi Arabia

Educators That Rock!: Bill Reilly

March 23, 2010
by Shannon Firth
As the founder of the Global Coalition Project, Bill Reilly has united classrooms around the globe through his vision to promote peace and global understanding. A social studies teacher at Bethlehem Central Middle School in Delmar, N.Y., for the last 16 years, Reilly was named one of Disney’s Educators of the Year in 2006 for his exceptional ability to teach “real world” lessons. Two years prior, he was chosen by the American Councils for International Education to represent the United States in a Eurasian/American teacher exchange in Azerbaijan.

FindingEducation met Reilly while attending the New York State Council for the Social Studies (NYSCSS) conference. Reilly described watching his students meet another group of students in Belize for the first time through an online video conference.

“It was like two groups meeting aliens for the first time,” he said. “They were such different and diverse cultures, and they had such an interest in learning about each other.”

fE: What made you become a teacher?

BR: I was an archeologist for a few years and then an owner of a rare coin store. So I always had a love for history. I then walked into a children’s home one summer, thinking that I would work with kids for a summer until I decided what business to go into, and I never left working with children after that. I teach ancient history to sixth graders.

fE: Tell me a little about some of the projects you’re doing in school.

BR: The largest project I’m working on is the Global Coalition, which is a project that connects schools in about 20 countries around the world. We call it the Global Coalition for Peace, Education and Cultural Awareness. Our goal is to try to reach across the world, not with guns and bombs, but with education and awareness.

fE: Why did you start the Global Coalition Project?

I was present down at the World Trade Center with some students when it was attacked. I realized that we really had to reach across the world not with guns and bombs, but with education and understanding. So I decided to send out some invitations, using project ePals (an Internet site that connects schools around the world) to some schools to see who would like to work on a Global Peace project with me. My first response was from Azerbaijan... And my next connection was with a school in the middle of the jungle in Belize ... Over the years, we’ve worked together on a collaboration that’s grown to include many schools, representing almost every region of the world, from the middle of the jungle ... to the northern Ural Mountains in Russia.

Read the rest of the Q&A with Bill Reilly at findingEducation’s Digital Teachers’ Lounge.

Watch clips from the interview with Bill Reilly on YouTube.

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