Great Lengths: Olly White didn’t swim the English Channel last summer just because it was a lifelong ambition. The 27-year-old teacher also braved the cold and the 6-foot swells so his students at Kentisbeare Primary School in Devon could continue their own swimming, albeit in less challenging surroundings. White’s 22-mile, 12-hour swim to France raised more than $4,500, which will go toward pool rental, transportation, and extra lessons for Kentisbeare students, most of whom can swim four times the minimum distance required by the national curriculum. “I have raised enough to cover the cost of swimming for next year, so it has been well worthwhile,” he told the Press Association.
Foreign Exchange: It seems technology really has made the world a smaller place: American students who need extra help with their schoolwork can now sign up for sessions with tutors on the other side of the world. According to the Press Trust of India, only 5 percent of the online tutoring market in the United States has been tapped, and Indian companies have begun filling that need. One setup lets kids and teacher hear and see each other with an electronic whiteboard; another focuses on typed “chats.” For the moment, students can only get help with their math, though high demand for reading and science lessons may change that. “There is a huge market ... for online tutoring, especially with the U.S. facing an acute shortage of teachers,” said Anirudh Phadke, an e-tutoring consultant.
Greener Acres: At Mount Gravatt State High School in Brisbane, students loll on hammocks, shaded by trees and surrounded by possums, lorikeets, and koalas. The school ecocenter’s rainforest glade is self-sustaining, with seeds collected and germinated on-site, but taking it easy in these idyllic surroundings still requires a lot of hard work—the teens often forgo lunch to maintain the grounds. “We give the kids specific areas to rehabilitate within the school,” said geography teacher and ecocenter coordinator Andrew Walsh. Those efforts, plus students’ work on regenerating local bushland and creeks, earned their school the distinction of being the region’s greenest and healthiest, the Courier-Mail reports.
Missing in Action: Students in Edinburgh don’t just cut classes to shop or loiter in parks; a recent report found that a third of the city’s 13-year-olds have skipped school because they had a hangover. The Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey also noted that half the students that age in the nation’s capital binge drink regularly, according to the Daily Record. “It is further evidence that alcohol is becoming a real problem with younger and younger people,” drug czar Tom Wood told the paper. The report came after Edinburgh’s drug and alcohol action team revealed that children as young as 7 had been admitted to local hospitals with alcohol poisoning.
A version of this article appeared in the October 01, 2005 edition of Teacher as DISPATCHES