When Connecticut teacher Larry Shortell talks with his students about cultures and traditions in other countries, he can do more than check a textbook for background. He can consult his own memories gathered in trips to all 50 states, more than 80 nations and every continent.
As national and state education officials emphasize the importance of global studies, Shortell's experiences have become more than a series of interesting journeys in one man's life. They've also become a teaching tool for his teenage students at Explorations Charter School in Winsted and, through his new book, for others interested in the wonders and weirdness of worldwide travels.
"Summers Off: The Worldwide Adventures of a Schoolteacher" was released earlier this year, just in time for Shortell to set off on more travels. Those journeys included a stop last summer in southwest Florida for his first book-signing, which took place at one of his three alma maters, Edison State College.
From Brunei to Barbados, Shortell tries to visit and learn about schools in each country whenever possible, often discovering that his American experiences are just as interesting to those educators as theirs are to him.