Program information

Portland State Center for Geography Education in Oregon:

A Ridgeview High geography teacher will be able to give her students a new perspective after taking part in a historic trip.

Maegan MacKelvie Melchiorsen was one of 14 teachers from across the state who explored Greece from July 13-30 as part of a tour called “Exploring the Geography of an Ancient Civilization” put on by the Center for Geography Education in Oregon, based out of Portland State University. The trip visited nine cities, from the Acropolis of Athens to the Meteora rock formation, which includes a complex of Eastern Orthodox monasteries, and many places in between.

“Any time I can see something outside of Oregon and make myself more globally aware, that’s something I can share with my students,” MacKelvie said upon returning.

MacKelvie was one of only two high school teachers and one of two teachers from Central Oregon, along with one from a Bend charter school, to make the trip. The trip included lessons on both physical and historic aspects of geography, making it useful for both science teachers and kindergarten through eighth-grade teachers who teach social studies.

“If you teach geography in any way, you can apply,” MacKelvie said.

This was MacKelvie’s third trip with the geography center, which is funded by the Gray Family Foundation. Five years ago, she took a trip to Civil War battlefields, while a 2017 trip focused on the impacts of mining in the Appalachian Mountain region.

“I learned a lot from all three of them, but to get to go internationally is, obviously, mind-boggling,” MacKelvie said. “I love traveling and I love sharing it with my students, and I hope they love to travel and gain a curiosity of their own.”

MacKelvie admits that she previously thought of Greece as being all architecture like is seen on the island of Santorini, with white buildings with blue roofs. She learned there is much more to the oldest European civilization, seeing artifacts dating back to 1,700 B.C.

MacKelvie was impressed by the early monuments, the influence of which can be seen in today’s parks, she said.

MacKelvie, who has been at Ridgeview since it opened in 2012 and has taught for 14 years total, is most excited about doing a lesson related to the first marathon, in which Pheidippides ran from the town of Marathon to Athens to announce the defeat of the Persians in 490 B.C., only to die after making the proclamation.

“Looking at the route that he ran and having my students make their own route in Central Oregon, considering the elevation changes here, and seeing if we can do something similar,” she said. “I know Central Oregonians like the outdoors and running, so I think this is an awesome project to undertake.”

The geography center paid for all airfare, hotel stays and most entrance fees to sites, MacKelvie said. Teachers only needed to pay for some of their meals, travel insurance and continuing education credits earned through Portland State.

While MacKelvie would love to take another trip with the geography center, she encouraged other teachers to apply for future tours.

“If you’ve never been on a trip with them before, they want to share the wealth,” she said.

— Reporter: 541-548-2186, gfolsom@redmond