Jeff Blair has taught upper and middle school Humanities at The Northwest School since 1989. Jeff has been a teacher-leader in developing key programs at Northwest, including helping transform the school’s approaches to professional development, environmental sustainability, and global education. Among other passions, Jeff is enthusiastic about focusing on the African continent in his courses, and he has presented at statewide conferences to advocate for integrating Africa into social studies curriculum.
Jeff currently teaches a world geography and literature course to eighth graders. This course reflects Jeff’s passionate interest in global education, a commitment that has been recognized by multiple awards and opportunities. For example, Jeff was a founding leader of his school’s exchange trip to France, a trip he has co-led five times, most recently in 2017.
In 2010, Jeff received a Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching to do educational research in South Africa. This opportunity took him to Cape Town, where he worked both with pre-service teachers at the University of Cape Town and with active teachers in a wide-range of area schools, especially on lesson planning and student-centered pedagogy. According to Jeff, a highlight of that experience was organizing a multi-school environmental service project that served as a model for continued collaboration among student environmental clubs
At Northwest, Jeff helped found both the student Environmental Interest Group and the school’s Sustainability Committee, of which he is still an active member. In 2014, Jeff’s interest in environmental sustainability took him to Japan, when he was selected to participate in the Fulbright Japan-U.S. Teacher Exchange Program for Education for Sustainable Development.
Jeff also helped found a school in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The International Leadership Academy of Ethiopia, which serves highly capable students from impoverished backgrounds, just celebrated its first graduating class and has joined The Northwest’s School’s network of international partner schools. Jeff was the school’s first teacher when he stayed in Addis Ababa for four months in 2013. He has returned to Ethiopia twice since and is hoping to take a group of students there in 2018. Currently, Jeff is working on a project, “The Globe Reads,” to link students at Northwest with peers in classrooms around the world to discuss shared readings.