Bay foundation forming partnership with schools

The Education Beat

Pioneers: Nine schools in the state have been selected for a three-year program that environmentalists hope will turn students and teachers into lifelong stewards of the Chesapeake.

May 24, 2000|By Mike Bowler | Mike Bowler,SUN STAFF

WITH ITS network of study centers and field trips for 37,000 school kids annually, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation has always had one foot in education.

Now it's getting in with both feet.

This summer, the foundation will launch three-year "partnerships" with nine Maryland schools chosen competitively for their commitment to improving academic achievement, student behavior and environmental sensitivity.

Although the foundation has produced curriculum on the bay, this is its first foray into school operations. But it won't be dictating curriculum or teaching children to read books on estuarine grasses.

Rather, the CBF will contribute its expertise, and the schools will infuse the curriculum with materials about the bay and discussions of environmental issues.

The Maryland Bay Schools Project will include 20 days of field trips on the bay and its local tributaries, as well as a 10-day summer training session for teachers. The goal is to promote a sense of stewardship among students and staff. "When people understand the bay and its problems, they tend to take better care of it," says Jessica Bearman, the project director.

The nine schools were chosen from among 35 applicants. Most of the schools selected already have a heavy environmental emphasis.

At Bohemia Manor Middle School in rural Cecil County, for example, there's a pupil-constructed wetland where tree frogs frolic 30 feet from an athletic field, and Paula Simpson's seventh-graders tend a schoolyard habitat outside their classroom window.

Says Erin Shitama, an eighth-grader who helped build the wetland as a sixth-grader: "I don't think anyone's too interested in having to move to another planet someday just to survive."

In addition to Bohemia Manor, the pioneer Bay Schools are Perry Hall Elementary in Baltimore County, North Bend Elementary in Harford County, Morrell Park Elementary/Middle in Baltimore, Hollywood Elementary in St. Mary's County, Forest Oak Middle in Montgomery County, Northern High in Baltimore, Broadneck High in Anne Arundel County and Key School, a private school in Anne Arundel.

Many instructors report being `called' to teach

A national poll to be released today pokes some holes in assumptions about why people become teachers and the influence of money on keeping them in the classroom.

"A Sense of Calling," a report from the respected (and assiduously neutral) Public Agenda organization, shows that the majority of new teachers "possess at least one extraordinarily appealing quality: They are doing something that they want to do."

In other words, teaching is a calling for many, and if higher pay is pitted against other benefits, such as well-behaved kids and supportive parents, higher pay almost always takes a back seat. Money can't buy these folks' love.

Nor is it the notoriously low pay in education that drives teachers out of the profession after several years, said Steve Farkas, one of the report's authors. "Money seems to become more important over a career," he said. "Teachers are subjected to a thousand and one professional insults over time, and pretty soon they say, `If I have to put up with this, at least pay me for it.'"

Teacher of the Year candidates announced

Maryland's local Teacher of the Year candidates were announced yesterday, one from each of the 24 districts. The Maryland winner enters the 2000 National Teacher of the Year competition.

Metropolitan area winners are Denise Y. Levitine of Four Seasons Elementary in Anne Arundel County, Melanie J. Rasmussen of William S. Baer School in Baltimore, Sarah Jean Hollister Davis of Catonsville Middle School in Baltimore County, Alan P. Zepp of Westminster High School in Carroll County, Donna Marie Zavacky of Ring Factory Elementary in Harford County and Linda K. Storey of River Hill High in Howard County.

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