Albuquerque teacher chosen for prestigious fellowship program

An Eldorado High School teacher is about to embark on a journey of a lifetime. Rick Sleeter is about to travel 2,700 miles for National Geographic to study and bring back what he learns to his classroom. 

It’s an opportunity few teachers get. 

Rick Sleeter’s classroom at Eldorado High School is always filled with adventure.

“He’s super fun and cares about what he does…one of the smartest people I’ve ever met,” student Olivia Mikaelian said. 

It’s earned him quite the nickname.

“I would call him the Indiana Jones of Albuquerque, essentially,” another student said.

“He has the hat, he has the whip, he has the spirit,” Mikaelian said. 

He brings that spirit into his classroom through his travels, and often takes his students along to see and touch history for themselves. Last year it was Chaco Canyon, and now he gets to go somewhere he’s never been. 

He’s one of 45 teachers from the U.S. and Canada chosen to board a Lindblad Expedition Ship and explore the world along with National Geographic—in this case, the South Pacific. 

“Okay, so I am a desert rat. I hike canyon lands, that is the kind of thing that I am used to,” Sleeter said. “They are sending me out to the Pacific to swim with the sharks. I am so excited.” 

It’s a rare opportunity, and not just for him, and not just for him. 

“Teaching is the best job in the world, and what I get to do is go on an expedition and learn from some of the greatest naturalists and scientists in the world. I get to bring experience and learning back to this community,” Sleeter said. 

His students helped create the video he submitted to earn the trip, and can’t wait to hear all about it. 

“I can only imagine what he is going to see and learn and discover,” student Andre Miller said. 

It’s that passion Mr. Sleeter is determined to share with his students. 

“It’s on me to become that role model, not only that but keep learning,” he said. “One thing I need to bring back is that sense of exploration and learning.” 

He’s definitely accomplishing that. 

“I would like to thank him for a wonderful year and wonderful opportunity. I don’t think I would be the same person leaving Eldorado if I had not taken his class,” student Mackenzie Hendrix said. 

Sleeter will be traveling 2,700 miles from Tahiti to Hawaii along what’s known as the Path of the Ancient Navigators over 19 days. 

All the teachers chosen are recognized because of their dedication to hands-on learning in the classroom. Sleeter started off as an anthropologist and field archaeologist. He decided to start teaching 30 years ago. 

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