Congratulations to our 2022 Educator Innovation Award winners!
We are thrilled to recognize the following teachers who effectively used the 2022 Ocean Awareness Contest to educate their students about the climate crisis, and empowered them to be creative stewards of our blue planet.
Thank you for your dedication and passion for engaging youth in environmental action!
English Program Coordinator
Kaetsu Ariake Junior and Senior High School (Japan)
Hannah wanted to incorporate a real-life scenario into her classroom activities, and given the school’s location close to Tokyo Bay, Japan’s history of marine pollution and overfishing, and the current debate around the Fukushima nuclear waste water release, the Contest felt like an excellent fit. She supplemented the project by organizing beach clean-ups for her students to participate in, and invited older students as guest speakers to share their experiences with conservation initiatives. In addition, Hannah worked with the school’s librarian to host a Gallery Walk to showcase the artwork her students created for the Contest.
“When I started this project, I was honestly just looking for ways to challenge my students to engage in something outside of their everyday lives in the classroom. Over the course of the project, however, it was not just my students who were challenged—I was also confronted with challenging, and ultimately rewarding, experiences as an educator. I look forward to continuing to help my students discover the ways in which they can help create positive change for their futures.”
Roosevelt High School (California, United States)
Stephanie brought the Contest into her classroom because she wanted her students to use their creativity to work on a real-world problem and to have a real-world impact. She collaborated with her Biology team to implement the Contest as a final project for the Environmental Impact unit. Because several students did not have access to materials to complete the project, Stephanie applied to DonorsChoose and was able to secure more than enough art supplies.
“Environmental impact is the final unit of the year, so many students are tired of school and not as motivated to do work. The Contest was interesting to my students, and it engaged them for the entire unit. I also wanted to show my students that they do not need a 4.0 GPA to apply for scholarships—that their hobbies and skills can also help them in their future.”
English & Writing Teacher
The Harker School (California, United States)
As a writer and writing teacher, Marjorie believes that how you craft language can truly change the way someone thinks about a particular situation. She viewed the Contest as a fantastic way to combine persuasion, research, creative writing, and climate change awareness. In line with the 2022 Contest theme, The Funny Thing About Climate Change, Marjorie focused her unit on rhetoric and how to utilize humor and positivity to speak to readers in a new way.
“I want students’ work to have a life that extends beyond the classroom, and the Contest enabled my seventh graders to connect with a wider audience and consider the power of their own voices. The specific theme, “The Funny Thing About Climate Change,” prompted rich lessons on humor, rhetorical techniques, and environmental science. Students researched with a sense of fervor and purpose that I don’t usually see when they are simply assigned to write a research paper. The cross-curricular connections emerged organically, and it was thrilling to see students grow as thinkers, writers, and stewards of our planet.”
Environmental Studies Program Teacher
Virginia Beach City Public Schools (Virginia, United States)
A former student had participated in the Contest and won an Honorable Mention Award, and Dianna found it to be a powerful experience for the student to use art as a medium to communicate science. Dianna introduced the Contest in her new school, using the Contest to show how human connection through humor can make a daunting issue more relevant and serve as a catalyst for change. The Contest worked hand-in-hand with Dianna’s teaching of climate change on a variety of scales, from taking boat trips to using interactive maps to view areas of recurrent flooding, and participating in hands-on water quality testing to bringing in experts in the field to talk about their work with resilient communities.
“It’s been incredibly inspiring to see students approach these issues through the lens of creativity, and see their voices valued as part of the solution. I feel fortunate to work for a school division that values innovative approaches to real-world issues, and especially to teach in the Environmental Studies program, a unique private-public partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, where students get the opportunity to see practitioners in the field tackle issues like climate change and resilient coastal communities.”
CollegeCommunityCareer (Texas, United States)
Kathy works with low-income, first-generation students from 12 Houston-area high schools on a year-round curriculum based on college success, career discovery, leadership development, and civic engagement. Her students are passionate about their community but often don’t know how or where to start. The Contest gave her students who have a passion for the environment a chance to express that interest in a variety of ways. Kathy also appreciated that the Contest is not based on grades or test scores, but on other qualities and attributes her students have.
“The Contest is not only a step to helping students receive money for college, but also allows them to bring awareness to our community about our oceans, how important they are to our environment, and how to keep them viable.”
English & Creative Writing Teacher
Samoana High School (American Samoa)
Sabrina’s Pacific Island community is vastly impacted by the detrimental effects of climate change—rising sea levels, harsh weather conditions, coral bleaching, and more. The Contest was a positive way for her students to learn more about this issue, to voice their feelings about what climate change means to them, and to share their community’s needs through creative expression. Sabrina collaborated with advisors from a local environmental youth leadership organization to provide feedback on the first drafts of the students’ work, and she engaged her students in two coastal clean-ups so that they could see first-hand the effects of pollution in their community.
“My students shared that, coming from a minuscule island, they didn’t feel like they stood a chance at competing on a global level. I told them that the size of our island does not dictate the limitations of our voices. As an Asian Pacific Islander, I have so much pride in my roots, and I am beyond happy to have the opportunity to represent my island, my people, and my culture.”
2022 Bay State Educator Award
This special recognition celebrates a teacher who exemplifies creativity and stewardship in their work with young people in Massachusetts. The award package includes a $500 classroom grant.
Middleborough High School (Massachusetts)
Every year, Alan assigns his AP Environmental Science classes to identify and apply to programs and scholarships that demonstrate use of the topics and skills they have covered in the course. He also shares the Contest with the Theatre, English, and Art teachers.
“The Contest was a great summary project for my AP students and fit in nicely with our curriculum. I know there are many outstanding teachers who could use this challenge in their classes.”