Tales of what a traveling teacher is taught

   For 11 years, social studies teacher Emily Muellenberg has been traipsing down the halls with her bags and schedules, teaching her students. As a student at Highlands Ranch High School, you maybe have spotted her in the hall with a
class trailing behind, heard her names from anxious teens, or have even sat in on her lessons.

   Teachers to most students re just people who give them stuff to do that take time away from their naps, nothing more than someone who stands in front of you

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Emily  Muellenberg’s one and a half year old son, Joseph. PhotoCo: Emily Muellenberg

 

for what feels like decades, but how did they learn what they teach? For some of those teachers at Ranch it may all come from college books, or classes, but for Muellenberg, her textbook happened to come a
long with plane tickets all over the world,
spreading her reach around the entire globe.

 

   Muellenberg has traipsed everywhere from studying abroad in Scotland in college,to an enchanting engagement in Portugal, and spending her honeymoon in Thailand and Vietnam. Muellenberg feels there is truly nothing you can learn from like travel. “The most life changing I would say would have to be India, seeing the amount of poverty, not to mention I’m in love with the spiritual elements of India, just that these people are so poor, but there is just a beauty in what they believe and how they believe it. How they carry it all, even though they aren’t fine, They are still incredibly okay by their standards. Just so many bright colors and hot heat, even strong smells, good and bad. It’s overwhelming but it’s also beautiful” said Muellenberg with a smile.

   Muellenberg’s brain isn’t just crammed with class schedules and grades while she teaches, but every sight she had seen and every local culture she has learned she feels has stained each of her classes. “It definitely affects how I teach Human Geography. I think you could teach this class without traveling, but I have a slightly more human connection to what’s on the page and in the book, since I’ve seen a lot of the things in person the book talks about. I can use them, for example, in class and hopefully encourage empathy from the kids, since that’s what I feel and know” said Muellenberg.

   The strings from all around the word do seem to connect across the globe to our class but the strings measure up very differently in Muellenberg’s eyes. “Everything is perspective. Compared to HR on the global scale, of course, their problems are way worse but if you have always had life pretty easy something that derails you can seem pretty big. I don’t think it’s fair to diminish the problems. I mean there is the joke and hashtag ‘first world problems’, and yes, we do have first world problems and in the grand scheme of things it’s kind of embarrassing but they are big deals to us and it shouldn’t invalidate the feelings we have about them. Also, in HR our demographics have shifted a bit and we have some very wealthy families along with ones that are really not, so we need to remember when we do these broad sweeping generalizations not everyone in Highlands Ranch comes from this privileged white middle class background”

 

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Varanasi, India in the summer of 2012. PhotoCo: Emily Muellenberg

   It is undeniable Muellenberg presented an abundant amount of knowledge from her travels. Her teaching is greatly affected from her life experiences and realness she has seen.

   Next time when you see a teacher, consider how every peel of knowledge in their mind came from somewhere. Who knows? Maybe like Muellenberg, it just happens to all come from seeing our world from the highest crisp mountain top to the lowest foggy valley, and achieving understandin
g of what everyone has?

   “I wish on everyone to travel and see how very broad the lifestyles range. It’s so eye-opening and there is no better way to learn,” said Muellenberg.

Casey Charland, Guest Reporter 

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