Toyota International Teacher Program Celebrates 10 Years of Connecting U.S. Classrooms to the World

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Ten years of cultural and environmental experiences enrich schools and communities nationwide.

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I want this event to demonstrate that one person’s actions can make a difference and instill a love of nature that will last a lifetime.

Toyota Motor Sales (TMS) U.S.A., Inc. continues to move America’s classrooms forward with the Toyota International Teacher Program. Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, the program will send U.S. teachers to Costa Rica and the Galapagos Islands to expand their international knowledge, exchange environmental conservation ideas and engage in culturally diverse activities in an effort to inspire the creative teaching of these themes in schools and communities.

Open to teachers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the Toyota International Teacher Program strives to expose educators of all disciplines to countries that offer rich ecosystems where conservation and sustainability are vital. This international professional development opportunity began 10 years ago with a study tour for 50 teachers to Japan, expanded to include two additional locations in 2007 and as a result, nearly 500 teachers have had the opportunity to immerse themselves in locations around the globe. In turn, their activities have touched hundreds of communities and thousands of students across the country through classroom lessons and service projects.

“Today, we are recognizing how mutually dependent we all are on Earth's resources. The Toyota International Teacher Program seeks to provide teachers the tools they need to prepare and educate students as stewards of our global community," said Jim Lentz, president, TMS. “We are proud of our program’s 10-year heritage of encouraging global education and conservation among the nation’s schools and communities and look forward to providing more educators this opportunity.”

New Jersey teacher Maureen Barrett returned from a Toyota International Teacher Program study tour in the Galapagos Islands in October 2007 and is already integrating her program experience by planning a “Galapagos Islands Gala.” This event will serve as a virtual field trip to the islands which the entire school community will be invited to join. “Through this interactive presentation about the Galapagos, attendees will understand the islands’ vulnerability, diversity and beauty through student-created sculpture, video documentaries, poetry and more,” said Barrett. “I want this event to demonstrate that one person’s actions can make a difference and instill a love of nature that will last a lifetime.”

Michael Wing, a teacher in California who also went on the same study tour to Galapagos, is currently planning with his students and school to create a solar-heated, mini-greenhouse to be placed at an elevation of 12,500 feet in California's Inyo Mountains.

“A key inspiration for this project was seeing the demonstration farm we visited on Santa Cruz Island during the Toyota International Teacher Program,” said Wing. “I want to show my students and school that, if necessary, you can grow food anywhere using only energy from the sun.”

During the Toyota International Teacher Program’s 10-year evolution, new locations have been added, offering new opportunities for teachers and students. Another new site will soon be announced to replace Japan, joining Costa Rica and the Galapagos Islands to provide a more environmentally focused curriculum. Future groups of teachers will be offered even more hands-on experiences in all three locations aimed at providing an enhanced understanding of how fragile ecosystems are being protected through local conservation and recycling programs.

The next Toyota International Teacher Program will take place in Costa Rica February 24 – March 7, 2008. In Costa Rica, a country dedicated to protecting its natural resources, area experts will educate participating teachers on local development, agronomy and conservation practices. Other activities include researching methods in sustainable agriculture at EARTH University and interacting with ecological thought leaders at La Selva Biological Station, one of the most studied tropical forests in the world.

In late November 2008, another group of teachers will travel to the Galapagos Islands, a designated World Heritage site, and visit prominent wildlife reserves and community groups on the islands. They will also participate in a joint, two-day forum of American and Galapagueño teachers where educators from both countries share innovative approaches to teaching environmental stewardship across all subjects and disciplines. While Toyota inaugurated the teacher program to the Galapagos Islands in 2006, the company has been helping to conserve the unique ecosystem of the islands since 2001, working collaboratively with the World Wildlife Fund to support a number of community education and outreach projects.

The Institute of International Education (IIE) in Washington, D.C., the nation’s most experienced nonprofit educational exchange organization, administers the program. “Studying nature and its conservation first hand and in a setting beyond our borders will teach key lessons about globalization and the world we share,” said IIE President and CEO Dr. Allan E. Goodman.

To be eligible for the Toyota International Teacher Program, teachers must be a U.S. citizen, employed full-time as a secondary classroom teacher or teacher-librarian (grades 6-12) and have a minimum of three years teaching experience. Teacher-librarians are now also invited to apply, as they are full participants on school instructional teams, collaborating with other teachers and administrators.

Funded through an annual $1.2 million grant from TMS, the Toyota International Teacher Program is the only one of its kind sponsored by a major U.S. corporation. To date, nearly 500 teachers nationwide have participated. For application information, please visit

About Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.
Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc. is the marketing, sales, distribution and customer service arm of Toyota, Lexus and Scion. Established in 1957, TMS markets products and services through a network of more than 1,450 Toyota, Lexus and Scion dealers. Toyota directly employs over 35,000 people in the U.S. and sold more than 2.6 million vehicles in 2007. For more information about our company, please visit, and

About Toyota’s Education Programs
In addition to sponsoring a number of nonprofit educational organizations, Toyota offers three major programs that support teachers with grants and students with scholarships; Toyota TAPESTRY, the largest K-12 science teacher grant program of its kind in the U.S.; Toyota Community Scholars, which provides 100 scholarships to high school seniors based on academics and community service and the [Toyota International Teacher Program].

Toyota also supports scholarships through the Hispanic Scholarship Fund; United Negro College Fund; Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation; National FFA and the American Indian College Fund. In 2006, Toyota USA contributed $40 million to U.S. philanthropic programs, with a majority of funding supporting education. For more information, visit or contact rhonda_glasscock @

About the Institute of International Education
An independent, nonprofit organization founded in 1919, the Institute is the world’s most experienced global higher education and professional exchange organization. IIE designs and implements over 250 programs of study and training for students, educators, young professionals and trainees from all sectors with funding from government and private sources. IIE also conducts policy research and provides advice and counseling on international educational opportunities abroad. The Institute of International Education has a network of 15 offices worldwide, over 800 college and university members and more than 5,000 volunteers. Information about IIE can be obtained from IIE’s Web site:, or by contacting Mike McCartt at toyotateach @

Media Contact:         
Ann Melkessetian
GolinHarris for Toyota
(213) 438-8735


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