An L.J. Hauser Junior High School teacher will spend the next academic year in Norway after winning a Fulbright scholarship to be a roving scholar in that Scandinavian nation next year.
It’s the second time that Hauser teacher Lynn Janik has been selected for a prestigious Fulbright award. In the summer of 2011 Janik, who is teaches seventh-grade English language arts and Spanish at Hauser this year, spent a month in Mexico as part of a Fulbright program.
Janik, who loves to travel and has visited 46 different countries, travels abroad every summer. Before coming to District 96 nine years ago she spent two years teaching English in Japan. She visited Scandinavia last summer and loved it, motivating her to apply for the Fulbright program in Norway.
“This past summer I went to Sweden, Norway and Demark, so that’s how I decided that I needed to apply for a way to get back over there,” Janik said.
Janik said she was attracted to the progressive polices of Norway and other Scandinavian countries. The natural beauty of Norway just added allure.
“Norway is just gorgeous,” Janik said. “There’s so much natural beauty everywhere you go. Everything runs just so efficiently. … I just feel it’s a way for me to get back instead of just me being a tourist, but to really figure out more about how that society works.”
Janik will be based in Oslo, but will travel throughout Norway visiting schools, lecturing, conducting workshops and learning about the country’s educational system. The Fulbright scholarship program, which is mostly funded by the United States government, is intended to foster understanding between the citizens of different countries.
“I looked at many Fulbright opportunities, but Norway is the only country that offers the roving scholar program. It’s quite unique that a junior high school teacher would be able to gain this opportunity of having a year sabbatical to go around the country,” Janik said. “Most of these Fulbright programs are college exchanges, like a visiting professor.”
Janik will be the only junior high school teacher from the United States in Norway next year on the Fulbright program. She will visit any school that requests to have her.
“I’ll offer four to five workshops for teachers and four to five for students,” Janik said. “I’ll be going wherever people want to hear about American policies in education, teenage life in America. I know there’s going to be a lot of questions about the upcoming election. I think the umbrella categories are American literature, culture, education and history.”
In her letter to the Riverside Elementary School District 96 school board requesting a sabbatical, Janik told the board that her participation in the program would benefit District 96.
“When I return to Riverside, I will be able to share knowledge about teaching practices and school culture in Norway, a country that is held in high esteem worldwide for its progressive values and policies,” Janik wrote. “I will be able to try new strategies in the classroom, facilitate discussions with a fresh perspective and present short stories that I’ve encountered while abroad in my language arts classes in Riverside.”
Janik also stressed that the scholarship will provide good public relations for the district.
“The insights I have gained at Hauser will be the basis for my talks so it is extremely positive PR for the district, the community, the state of Illinois and the United States,” Janik wrote.
Janik spoke during the public comment portion of the March 15 school board meeting to personally make her request for the sabbatical and tell them about the program. The board then voted 6 to 0 to grant her a one-year leave.
In addition to her Fulbright grant, District 96 will pay Janik $35,920 next year which is one half of her yearly salary. The Fulbright program will pay for Janik’s health insurance coverage during her sabbatical year.
If the district hires a teacher with just a bachelor’s degree and no experience to replace Janik next year the net cost to the district of her sabbatical is projected to be approximately $8,823.
The school board and administration thinks that cost is well worth the benefits of this rare opportunity, and they are excited for Janik.
Co-Interim Superintendent Griff Powell said that in his long career in education he has known only a handful of Fulbright Scholarship grantees, and that it is a great honor and a highly competitive application process.