Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A Tale of An Environmental Teacher

Once upon a time,....
there was a girl who taught at a very "green" school where they recycled, composted, built rain gardens, had green roofs, raised oysters, grew butterfly gardens, had an entire week dedicated to Earth Day, hosted Earth Hour events, and much much more.

She taught there for a very good long time. There, she was quite in her element, integrating curricular topics on the side of sustainability.  Her students were mesmerized by books like Operation Redwood. They graphed light usage and how long it took different items to biodegrade.  They did biographies on environmentalists such as Jacques Cousteau, Sylvia Earle, Jane Goodall, and John Muir. Her students weekly cleaned and counted Capri Suns to send back to Terracycle to reduce landfill waste. She was even rumored to have a majestic dress made entirely out of Capri Suns. Oh yes! They all ate and breathed the "green" scene.

Until one day....this wonderfully special school closed.

It was at this point the the friends/teachers/colleagues/families/students were quite saddened that they had to scatter like seeds in the wind.  Scatter they did.  They all landed well and started their next phase of happily ever after at brand new schools, public and independent, spread all over the community.

As would not be surprising, our one, same teacher gal also found a new school to call home. Here she got to embark on being the "iPad Lady," bringing new and innovative ideas to classroom teachers at her new school, helping her colleagues find ways to integrate technology and the curriculum.  And all was very good for her first new year at a new elementary school.  Not as "green" as where she'd been, but a good place to land all the same.

Then one summer day about 2 weeks before school started before her 2nd year there, our teacher was asked to do a favor. Would she kindly take on a homeroom classroom due to an unexpected leave of absence by a teacher on staff. This was quite a surprise, but of course she said yes. She embarked on both the hurry and scurry of setting up shop for the incoming students, as well as the "hurry and worry" on mentally getting her game on. She had to switch gears and go into classroom teaching mode versus just teaching tech with an office and classroom visits. It was supposed to be a short-term fill, but as often happens in this tale called "Life," more unexpected things happened, and she stayed in this spot for the whole school year.

There, with her students, she did what she knows how to do best.  She shared the importance of caring for our planet through student-driven tech investigations. She shared the concern of marine debris through mockumentaries and ocean cartoons. She read some of those same books as read-alouds that she had always read in the past. She embarked on a journey with a team of 3 other teachers to help the school become a Maryland "Green" School.  They triumphed and the designation was awarded!

Of course, as happens, the school year came to a close.  In addition to all of those eco-things, our girl helped her students prepare for the next step, write their end of the year speeches, and wrap up the year.  In return, her students surprised her with a very remarkable gift.  Based on her love on the environment, and their love for her, she was given a sizable donation in her name to a local environmental charity, promoted to conserving the Chesapeake Bay.  A gift was given that will keep on giving. The donations will continue forward to help further more environmental programs.

As her son once said in Kindergarten:  "Mom, it's all physics.  The world loves a circle."

A circle indeed. Those seeds that scattered to the wind with the closing of a school, had been sown. More environmental stewards had been grown. The circle of conservationism and environmental sustainability continued to grow outwards.

A circle indeed.  For the love shared and the love spread was more touching than I can describe.   I should know.  I know that girl, that teacher, very very well.

Thank You! Which, of course, is a most delightful way to "End."

GTG logo from; Capri Sun dress from; Michael Recycle costume image from; CBF image attributes noted above & from

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