Carley Byford, a senior at The Webb School traveled to France with a Webb group during spring break as the recipient of the Johnson-Fort Endowed Travel Scholarship for the 2022-2023 school year. Donor John F. “Jeff” Whorley ’79 established the scholarship in 2017. At the time, Whorley noted that he believes strongly in the educational benefits of international travel and endowed this fund to support a student towards a Webb-sponsored international trip.
“I have always dreamed of crossing the Atlantic and venturing into Europe, and Webb’s trip in March is the best opportunity for me to do so,” said Byford in her application. “I have studied and excelled in the French language at Webb for five years, which will be particularly useful during this trip. It begins with a four-day homestay with a French family, where I will be able to exercise my language skills in the real world.”
The Bell Buckle resident said her current understanding and experience with the French language reaches the bounds of her Webb classroom. “This trip will broaden my horizons greatly. The homestay will not only give me the opportunity to have an amazing time with a French family, but I will also form a lifelong connection to France.” She added, “Experiencing France as a local rather than a tourist will give me an incredibly memorable experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
Jason Simpson, Webb’s World Languages Department chair and French teacher, outlined the overall trip saying, “This year’s France program included the four days of immersive family stays in the area of Tours or Orléans, a historical tour of a château in the Loire Valley, and a weekend in Paris, to see all the major sights, including a visit to the Louvre. He added, “Carley began French in Webb’s 6th grade passport class and also participated in our travel-study to Québec, so this is a perfect culmination to her French experience at Webb.”
In establishing the scholarship, Whorley chose to honor two of his teachers, Alsey Johnson and Joyce Fort, whose impact inspired him. Johnson taught English and French in the mid-1970s, and his three children, Jane ’74, John ’75 and Julia ’77, are Webb graduates. Fort taught foreign language in the 1970s, and her children, Norma ’79, Joel ’83 and Vernon ’83, also attended Webb.
As part of the guidelines, The Webb School requests applications from students who wish to travel internationally, and evaluates applications based on the interest and educational benefits described by those who apply. Students who otherwise could not afford the costs of such a trip, as well as those who have not participated in an international school-sponsored trip, are given preference.
Ella Harris, class of 2020, a resident of Bell Buckle, was selected to receive the first scholarship in 2017-2018 and traveled to France with a group of Webb students in 2018. Noah Jolley, also a member of the class of 2020, a Shelbyville resident, received the 2018-2019 scholarship and traveled with other Webb students to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam in the summer of 2019. The 2019-2020 recipient, Ruth Smith, class of 2021, was unable to take a trip in spring 2020 as the school’s spring break trips were cancelled that year as a result of the COVID pandemic.