Education master's graduate becomes latest Fulbright winner from Lipscomb

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This summer, the fourth Fulbright Scholar to come from Lipscomb University in the past seven years will head to Indonesia to teach in the local schools for a year. Jared Brett, who earned his M.Ed. from Lipscomb in December 2012, was selected to receive a Fulbright Fellowship to teach in Indonesia.

A native of San Diego, Brett graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a bachelor’s in psychology. He came to Nashville with the Teach for America program and enrolled in Lipscomb’s Master of Education program.  He has been teaching fifth grade just down the road from Lipscomb at John Trotwood Moore Middle School for the past two years.

As the education partner for Nashville’s Teach for America program, the College of Education provides coursework that participants – many of whom are not education majors – need to become licensed to teach in Tennessee. They have the option to continue their studies and earn a master’s degree from Lipscomb, as Brett did.

After graduating with a master’s in instructional practice in December 2012, “I realized that I wasn’t ready to leave the classroom, but I was ready to move on from Nashville. I wanted to expand my influence a little bit,” said Brett.

So when his Nashville roommate told him about the Fulbright program, Brett applied.

The Fulbright Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, was established in 1946 and is designed to “increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.”

The Fulbright program places U.S. scholars in schools or universities overseas, improving foreign students’ English language abilities and knowledge of the United States while enhancing their own language skills and knowledge of the host country.

“I have seen some of the big issues with education, and I would love to be part of solving some of those larger systemic issues,” Brett said of his new challenge. “I’ve learned a lot about leadership. The way to lead is to inspire people, to show them what they want to do and then teach them how to do it for themselves. I will certainly carry that into what I do in the future (in Indonesia).”

As a surfer growing up in California, Brett nurtured the dream of surfing in Indonesia one day. Then in the summer of 2012 Brett spent six weeks in the Middle East and was fascinated by the interplay of religions in that area of the world. So when selecting a country to carry out his Fulbright teaching, he realized that Indonesia would not only fulfill his childhood dream but it would also be an exciting place “to learn about other religions and other people so we can all understand each other’s perspectives, goals and beliefs and move forward together,” he said.

Brett said he likes to focus on social and emotional learning as well as content in his classroom. “If we don’t have a strong community in our classroom, we won’t get anything done no matter how good my lesson plans are. They have to believe that their classmates are there to support them, and we can do it together,” he said.

This holistic view of education, as well as his many travels and his success in the Teach for America program, were among the factors that earned him a coveted Fulbright fellowship, he said.

The Fulbright Program awards approximately 8,000 grants annually to students, foreign students, scholars and professionals. It is one of the most prestigious awards available for students and scholars.