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Eldersburg Elementary School Receives Environmental Awareness Award

Release Date: 5/14/2009 10:43:42 AM

Eldersburg Elementary School has received an Environmental Awareness Award from the Carroll County Environmental Advisory Council. The school was recognized in the Institutional category for its efforts to take care of the environment.
The staff of Eldersburg Elementary School is committed to instructing students in balancing the needs of people and their natural environment through implementation of the assigned curriculum, as well as a variety of extension activities. They also foster environmental awareness beyond the science classroom. Students at all grade levels consistently demonstrate awareness of environmental issues:
  • Kindergarten students build their knowledge of life science and environmental science by learning about native plants and raising and tagging butterflies to release into the wild. They have visited Spring Meadow Farms, a local pumpkin patch, and discussed the impact the environment has on growing and raising healthy crops. They also visited Bear Branch Nature Center, where they caught organisms, released them back into the pond, and identified the environmental impact of pollution on water life.
  • First and second grade teachers discuss ways the students can recycle and encourage and practice recycling in their classroom and the cafeteria. Teachers also model good reading strategies by using environmental books such as The Lorax and The Tree Farmer.
  • Third grade students complete the “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle” unit and apply what they have learned to authentic practice by participating in the school-wide recycling programs.
  • Fourth grade students completed an extensive environmental unit in science and language arts by reading, writing, researching, and investigating water quality and how it affects the Chesapeake Bay. After reading the novel Waterman’s Boy, a local waterman visits the class to instruct students on the impact of pollution and motivate them by bringing in Chesapeake Bay sea creatures and artifacts.
  • Fifth grade students were involved in the groundbreaking ceremony for Main Street Eldersburg, the forthcoming local green mall. In addition, fifth graders taught the entire school community about the environment through a musical entitled “Update Earth.” They have constructed and placed bluebird boxes in the field and will observe, monitor, and record data on how the bluebird population is altered by the environment.
Staff members have participated in a variety of professional development opportunities. The school has built relationships with companies such as Reuse-A-Shoe and Terra-Cycle to gain their help in becoming environmentally aware. Other highlights of environmental awareness activities include a school-wide recycling program for paper, cans, glass, and juice pouches; green parking spots for carpoolers or hybrid cars; and maintenance of the school’s courtyards, including a fish pond and gardens. Students also recycle tennis shoes that will be re-fabricated into playgrounds for disadvantaged neighborhoods.
Eldersburg Elementary School teachers Amy Mullinix and Dana Wineke received Honorable Mention in the Individual category for their efforts in environmental awareness. These teachers spent a significant amount of personal time creating an original, multidisciplinary unit of study that culminated with a planting day in which all fourth graders participated. Groups of students selected native Maryland plants to establish a new Eldersburg Elementary School rain garden. They also traced the path of rainwater from the school’s parking lot to the Chesapeake Bay. The teachers actively manage environmental initiatives at the school by creating a rotation of tending the rain garden, butterfly garden, courtyard and goldfish pond, and the box turtle garden. They also support the countywide initiative to conserve electricity by having students create index cards that signal people to turn off lights, computers, and other items when not in use.
According to principal Michael Eisenklam, Mullinix and Wineke are the catalysts for the school’s environmental awareness achievements. “Through their passion, dogged determination, and expert communication, they are inspiring others to become stewards of the environment,” Eisenklam said. “They’ve created lifelong learners in all of us, and have helped us to make a lifelong commitment to improving our world.”

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