(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Third grade Carden Park Elementary teacher Morgan Skaith has received national attention. Skaith was one of only 10 teachers in the country who will be awarded the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators (PIAEE) by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
It all started with a field trip.
Last year, Skaith took her third grade class on a trip to downtown St. Joseph, but when they stopped at the Riverfront, students were skeptical about why this spot was an attraction.
“They were like why are we here there’s nothing here,” Skaith said.
This question, which many around St. Joseph have been starting to ask themselves, turned into a project idea for Skaith’s class.
She then took her class to meet with the City Planner and Historic Preservation Planner, who were looking into Riverfront revitalisation efforts. Then, Skaith told her class to draw up some ideas for the city to consider.
Students drew playgrounds, parks, monuments—all while applying zoning, environmental preservation and science.
“They didn’t even know they were learning, they just thought they were doing a fun project,” Skaith chuckled.
Skaith believes having students solve a community problem using project based learning encourage their students to be more confident about their futures.
“You're instilling in the kids that feeling that 'I'm already a scientists I'm already using math,’ so hopefully they will be encourage STEM in the future,” Skaith said.
After submitting her lesson write up and accompanying student projects, Skaith has been awarded the PEYA and the $2,500 professional development grant that comes with it. The St. Joseph School District has also been awarded a $2,500 grant for classroom science resources.