SOURCE: Fund for Teachers

Fund for Teachers

March 18, 2010 06:00 ET

Teachers Strive to Bring Earth Day Alive for Students

HOUSTON, TX--(Marketwire - March 18, 2010) -  Earth Day 40 takes on a new meaning for four elementary school teachers as they bring their global summer experiences home to their students.

Katie Schneider and Meghan O'Connor teach at Tarkington School of Excellence, Chicago's first "green" school complete with a vegetated/reflective roof and floors crafted from recycled glass. Despite their school's philosophy to promote environmental awareness, Katie and Meghan found students continued to be wasteful. Inspired to instill stewardship from two countries that excel at environmental practices, they capitalized on a Fund for Teachers fellowship to witness Germany's green roofs, wind turbines, and recycling bins on every corner, ride Switzerland's ethanol-powered buses and drink fresh water from the Alps from a tap.

"Before traveling, we had an intellectual understanding of good environmental practices, but it wasn't until we were around people evidencing a high level of environmental care that we adapted to that way of life," said O'Connor. "Having a clear reference point and authentic resources to share with students now brings our environmental unit to life and motivates us to thread these values throughout the entire curriculum year-round."

Upon returning to the classroom they wrote an environmental unit incorporating the knowledge and values gained from their travels. Students then drafted "green resolutions" and jointly resolved to clean up their playground at recess.

Lorrae Walker and Charon Kirkland, teachers at Atlanta's Scott Elementary, also spent two weeks last summer pursuing conservation practices on a Fund for Teachers fellowship, choosing the island of Dominica as their laboratory. In conjunction with the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, they learned about cloud forests, mature and elfin rainforests, coral reefs, marshlands and sulfur springs. Preparing for a more meaningful Earth Day, students recently welcomed representatives from Atlanta Botanical Gardens who spoke on the importance of preserving Georgia's Wetlands, took a field trip to the Chattahoochee Nature Center where they explored native plants and learnt how to help with conservation efforts.

"Our fellowship gave us a sense of what it means to be a scientist exploring nature and an understanding of the enormous task to preserve its gifts," said Kirkland.

Fund for Teachers' 2010 class of Fellows will be announced in April, adding to the 3,500 teachers from across the country who've already pursued destinations and disciplines around the world. Watch for their names at

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