Here is Cheri Goggin from Berkshire High School speaking about her recent award of Outdoor Educator of The Year in Ohio. She is leaving a legacy with her students.
Cheri: “Hi! My name is Cheri Goggin, I teach here at Berkshire High School, we’re in Burton, Ohio, and I teach Environmental Science here and I like to use the outdoors. I remember growing up, in schools, the reading and the writing and the arithmetic was great, but being outdoors really meant something to me, and it means a lot, I think, to the students that I teach. And I think you’ll see that the enthusiasm of the students, when they get to work in the outdoors, is increased dramatically. They learn about problems; we’re supposed to be doing problem-based, inquiry education, and we walk around the school building around here and we find problems. When we find those problems, I let kids design solutions, and then we engineer how we’re going to solve our problems.
This past year we wrote for another grant through Project Learning Tree, and we have a swale on the west side of our building over there, between our parking lot and our football area, and the students discovered that- oh my gosh when they did a Google Earth footprint, if you will, of our building and our impervious surfaces right around this area, they discovered how much rain would be shed off this building and off of our parking areas and how it slopes down this direction, and they decided that there was an erosion spot down at the west side, and oh my gosh all of our water went down there.”
“Okay so in April when we get out here and we start to engineer this swale over here, tell us, what are your thoughts on this? You said something about drainage pipe?”
Student 1: “Yeah, well me and Lenny over here are thinking about digging it out, probably like 4 feet at the most, then putting a 3 foot to 2 foot drainage pipe in the perforated holes and then we’re gonna fill that with…”
Student 2: “… washed gravel.”
Cheri: “Yeah, what’s in the gravel? Why are we washing it? What are we removing?”
Student 3: “All the dirt.”
Student 1: “The fine particles.”
Student 3: “We’re right next to a parking lot right here so all the cars when they’re spilling gas, or they’re spilling oil, liquids- any liquids that are in the mechanics of it- this is built on a slope so it’ll just go and flow over, it flows directly over there- and there’s a lake right near here. “
Cheri: “The kids this year will do a bio-remediation on that area down there. We’ve had some folks- technicians from the Soil and Water Conservation District come over here and educate our kids about bio swales versus just swales. A constructed wetland, if you will. What should go in them, how should they be done, and I try never- I try to have the folks that come talk to kids, not tell our kids what they should do but to present to them information and allow them to bounce back some thoughts and ideas and to let them come up with an answer to the problems. Soil and Water, this year, presented to the kids and to the school, and to myself the Outstanding Educator for the county, and that then went on to the state level and we received the state level. The scores here, I think, for the students are improving; they’re getting better and better each year. Kids are enjoying coming to class. I hope that- I think when I was younger I sometimes felt beat up by education, and beat up by concepts, and thoughts, and ideas, but when you actually get outside and you get to do it, it just feels natural; it feels real. Project Wild and Project Learning Tree are groups that are making curriculum available to educators, and there’s a lot of things out there that we should be teaching our kids, and we don’t always have time to design curriculums, so the curriculum is out there. So my students are writing grants, and when we get grants that gives us money and money gives us opportunities, and these opportunities bring my students outdoors. We’ve written for three larger grants at this point: two from Project Learning Tree and the American Forestry Foundation, and we’ve written for one from Project Wild. It was just awesome. And who would think that an outdoor grant type of situation would get a kid to write. I guess that’s why I do it.”
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