Teachers dive into their surroundings

Published 8:59 am Wednesday, July 28, 2010

FRANKLIN—Participants in the Educators’ Environmental Institute at Paul D. Camp Community College learned about their surroundings during the three-week undergraduate science course funded by International Paper.

The group studied a range of topics, including forest management and wood production, papermaking, solid waste disposal and recycling, water and sewage treatment, and coastal, forest, swamp and marsh ecology.

According to Amy Herrmann, director and adjunct professor of biology at PDCCC, the class is designed to locally explore the interrelationships of man and his environment. Teachers incorporate the newfound knowledge into their curricula.

“I actually took the class about 25 years ago with Clayton Harpold, and I enjoyed it,” Herrmann said. “The key is taking the time to look at things.”

She noted that while educators use the class for recertification, there are other benefits, too.

“They all have said this course has something they can use,” Herrmann said. “Ecology can be used anywhere.”

To attest to that, Latin teacher Jim Wickenden brainstormed many ways to incorporate what he learned from water treatment facility field trips into his lessons at Windsor High School.

“Part of the SOL requirements for Latin involves Roman culture,” he said.

Wickenden will have his students draw differences and similarities between water systems in different cultures, and various language activities using vocabulary words that are derived from Latin roots.

Pre-kindergarten teacher Shirley Barnes chose to create five different activity books that her 4- and 5-year-old Hardy Elementary students can use to learn about animal camouflage.

“They will match the animal to the habitat where they would best blend in to hide from predators,” she said.

Other participants in the EEI were Pat Gordon of Carrollton Elementary; Gail Baird, Betty Hanlon and Nancy Zawodny, all of Hardy Elementary; Amy Espinosa of Hillpoint Elementary; Ray McDonald of Lakeland High School; Stella Payne and Susan White, both of Nansemond-Suffolk Academy; Ryan Rose of Oakland Elementary; Bonita Bertero, Marita Cotton, Lisa Danielson, Robyn McKnight and Linda Newcomer, all of Windsor Elementary; Ronnie Harry of Windsor High; and retired teachers Mabel Bunch and Bette Cole.

Herrmann, a science teacher for middle and high school students at Isle of Wight Academy, took over the directorship this summer for PDCCC assistant professor of biology John Patterson, who retired.

“I am honored that John asked me to teach this,” Herrmann said.

Patterson served as director of the institute for about 15 years and led a few field trips during this year’s session.

“I have a great group who are full of energy and enjoy teaching,” Herrmann said during the last class, at which time projects were presented. “They approached this course very seriously. They are doing their projects for their kids, not just me.

“We have some retired teachers who can use their projects when they are substituting,” she added.

The course uses a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on activity through field trips.