Each year Gwen and I struggle with choosing JUST ONE Teacher of the Year for our annual meeting in September. So many teachers that we work with go above and beyond in not only transforming students, but also their peers and school neighborhood. In 2013 we had selected Julie Christner from Hilltop Elementary in Wyoming for her environmental education skills, for making her classroom a mini-science museum and for just being awesome in general.
But then she went and TOTALLY exceeded our expectations.
Julie had noticed some erosion issues on the school property, She never thought the job to fix it would be too challenging for her students - she has total faith in their skills. Instead she saw these erosion issues as an opportunity for her 4th grade students to assess a real-world problem and for them to engineer and build a solution for the school that would have a lasting impact for the community. Little did she know how much her principal would like the idea!
Hilltop decided to get all of the grades and teachers involved, from the first graders testing the soil and ground temperature, the kindergarten and second graders who filled a trench with gravel and the third graders who helped to cover the trench with soils. But the fourth graders! They were the true workers on this project, with Julie leading the way; they assessed the problem, had guest speakers from Ohio Utilities Protection Service (Call Before You Dig!) and our office (thanks Dan Taphorn), created models, proposed solutions, and made a safety video before starting to dig the trench. Soooooo, this year Gwen and I decided to nominate Julie for teacher of the year for all of the Ohio Conservation Districts, and guess what? She won!
We are thrilled to have such an amazing teacher in Hamilton County and are so excited to watch as she is presented with the Ohio Teacher of the Year award at the all-Ohio meeting in Columbus on February 24th.
Thank you to Julie and the rest of the inspiring teachers out there in Hamilton County!
If you are interested in receiving grant money for a project like this at your school (or any other conservation-related project in the schools) click here.
Here's to looking forward to Spring so that we can start working on them! Get those kiddos outside! :)