Educator profile

Group Leader Spotlight: Ryan H. encourages his students to wander

Ryan H. is an avid adventurer and traveler. When he began teaching in a small, rural community, he knew he wanted to create a program that would give his students the same travel opportunities he’s had—opportunities they might not have gotten otherwise. And so, the Troubadours were born, which is both the name of his travel program and its goal—to bear culture and knowledge from one place to the next.

When Ryan moved to Tillamook, OR, he found a community he could connect to. With his roots in a rural farm town, and having worked as a fisherman in Alaska, Ryan realized he and the students in this small, seaside town had a lot in common. He had a passion for travel after spending years exploring the world after his graduation, and he knew he could make a big difference in his students’ lives by helping them have the kind of experiences he had—ones they might never have thought possible.

So he created a travel group he calls the Troubadours, because he says, “A troubadour is a wandering artist, a storyteller, somebody who loves to travel and by effect becomes a bearer of culture and knowledge, passing from one place to the next.” But for his students, being a Troubadour isn’t just about travel, it’s about representing the integrity of the program. “Being a Troubadour, you become a pillar of the community. You need to abide by higher standards. I tell every kid, ‘You are responsible for the integrity of the program. How you act becomes what a Troubadour is.’”

The impact the Troubadours have had in his school is incredible. Travel has given his students a new perspective on the importance of their studies, because “Global context pops their bubbles, and they realize that they want to prepare themselves for the world. They realize in-class learning actually holds value!” The support system the Troubadours creates for them is exceptional—and creates what Ryan hopes is a lifelong love of travel.

In fact, he’s already seen this wish come true. While on tour with a group of students on a rainy day in Rome, he actually ran into two former Troubadours who were traveling after graduation.

“I was pretty much in tears about it.”

“Traveling with your students is an educator’s dream. Every day in the classroom, you’re hoping for those moments of epiphany, where the light bulb goes on in their head. On a trip, it happens a thousand times a day—their eyes just glow. As an educator, you get to work with that, just get to steer it. It’s the most powerful work you can do as a teacher. It’s phenomenal.”

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