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Educators take part in water issues workshop, key issues institute
1015 GP teacher workshops
Monty Brown, left, vice president of manufacturing at Georgia-Pacific Savannah River Mill, recognizes Amber Teare, 11th- and 12th-grade environmental science teacher at South Effingham High; Jana Bolton, sixth-grade earth science teacher at Effingham County Middle; and Kendra Brophy, seventh-grade life science teacher at Effingham County Middle. At right is Effingham County Schools Superintendent Randy Shearouse. - photo by Photo provided

For three Effingham County school teachers, summer school was never more fun. Jana Bolton and Kendra Brophy of Effingham County Middle School and Amber Teare of South Effingham High School were selected and sponsored by Georgia-Pacific to attend summer workshop programs designed to help them bring environmental issues into the classroom in a dynamic way.

“We’re proud to invest in teacher development as part of our community investment focus,” said GP Savannah River Mill facility manager Monty Brown. “We value the opportunity to help educators bring environmental issues to life for their students and to learn skills that will help them for years to come.”

Brophy attended Keystone Science School’s 2013 “Key Issues Institute: Bringing Environmental Issues to the Classroom” in Silverthorne, Colo. The four-day program helps middle-school teachers of any subject build students’ critical thinking skills while presenting unbiased scientific concepts and engaging them in environmental issues. At the same time, teachers further their own skills and knowledge.

During Key Issues workshops, teachers solved problems mimicking real-life scenarios and brought home lesson plans and lab kits to apply what they’ve learned in their local classrooms. The institute also coordinates ongoing online support from other educators and instructors.

Bolton and Teare attended a new “Creeks to Coast” program, funded in part by the Georgia-Pacific Foundation and led by experts at the Georgia Aquarium. The program, in its inaugural year, aims to give teachers the tools, information and best practices to effectively convey environmental and watershed issues to students.

The week-long “Creeks to Coast” workshop is designed heavily around interactive learning as they explore the Chattahoochee River system from its headwaters near Brasstown Bald to the Gulf of Mexico at Apalachicola Bay, Fla. Field and cultural experiences include invertebrate sampling, tours of hydroelectric plants, fish hatchery and water treatment facility visits, hikes with interpretive rangers, meetings with scientific researchers, and exploration of oyster reef and barrier island ecosystems.

“The ‘Creeks to Coast’ program equipped me with many creative ideas to enhance water-based lessons in my classroom and provided suggestions for laboratory activities,” said Teare, an environmental science teacher at SEHS. “I was truly inspired by being so close to nature and reminded of the importance of water conservation. My experience was a key moment in my teaching career.”

Effingham County Schools Superintendent Randy Shearouse also emphasized the value that hands-on learning opportunities like “Creeks to Coast” and “Key Issues” provide for teachers.

“We appreciate Georgia-Pacific partnering with us to give our teachers this wonderful opportunity,” Shearouse said.