WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Chelsea Cantwell is a Science teacher at Atlantic High School and she’s been named the 2020 Green Teacher of the Year through FAU’s Pine Jog Green Schools Recognition Program. She shared some ideas for families to stay busy while continuing the learning process through the summertime.
A record 134 schools were recognized in the program this year.
It’s her school’s third year in the Green School recognition program, and Cantwell says she’s delighted by the honor that recognized the efforts of her school, teachers and students.
“We have several different green initiatives on our campus. For example, green recycling, which is on different school campuses. To put it a step further, we collect data on the recycling. So how much trash have we been recycling, just to put measurement to it. And then we bring that data to either the science classes or the math classes to kind of incorporate the curriculum across the different subjects,” she explained.
The students’ hands-on learning efforts while still in the classroom supported biodiversity throughout Palm Beach County. One project involved working with the school’s construction academy.
“So they have actually built bird houses and bat houses to kind of help the local ecosystems. And then we have donated those to other individuals and then promoted those to other schools,” she explained.
Due to the pandemic, schools were closed early and teachers started working with students virtually.
Cantwell says she was disappointed that her kids didn’t get to finish some projects, like visiting an outdoor area the students adopted. However, they did find ways to finish some projects, like an Earth Week challenge. Cantwell instructed students to do different tasks on different days of the week, like recycling at home and conserving water while still washing hands often.
She says there are ways the family can stay busy learning, even while away from school. The projects can be helpful to the environment.
She suggests families turn vegetable scraps into a container garden on the windowsill and get the family involved in recycling.
“Collect some vegetable scraps. Either green onions or lettuce, and then you can grow that even on your kitchen windowsill even just by re-planting it in some water just to see sprouts grow. So you don’t even need to venture out to the grocery store,” she said.
Cantwell also suggests a magical way to see the life-cycle and help the local environment.
“Buy a couple of butterfly plants. We have a lot of native milkweed. So you see the different life cycles of the butterfly happening and attract those different species into your yard,” she said.