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Andover, Mass. Teacher Honored with Environmental Educator Award

EPA also announces an Honorable Mention in Ashford, Conn.

04/22/2020
Contact Information: 
David Deegan (deegan.dave@epa.gov)
617-918-1017

BOSTON – An Andover, Mass. high school teacher, Melanie Cutler, is one of 10 education professionals honored today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), with a "Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators" (PIAEE) award. EPA also recognized Carly Imhoff, a teacher at Ashford School in Ashford, Conn., with an Honorable Mention award.

The PIAEE awards recognize innovative educators who bring environmental education into their classrooms through hands-on, experiential approaches. This year nationally, seven educators are receiving the 2019 Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators, and three educators will be recognized with an honorable mention distinction. Winning educators demonstrated leadership by integrating environmental education into multiple subjects and using topics such as healthy school environments, environmentally friendly agricultural practices, reducing ocean litter, gardening, recycling, or STEM to teach sustainability to K-12 students.

"As we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, we are also celebrating nearly 50 years of environmental education that fosters awareness about conservation issues, and helps communities make informed, responsible decisions about their environment," said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. "We are also honoring dedicated educators who spark enthusiasm in our youth to develop a love and respect for the environment and find solutions for issues that impact our air, water and land."

"A gifted teacher can make a life-long difference in her students' lives. EPA is proud to honor Ms. Cutler as one of the many New Englanders who dedicate themselves to teaching school children about the environment, and how they can make a positive difference in our communities," said EPA New England Regional Administrator Dennis Deziel.

As a teacher with 22 years of experience in environmental education program development, Ms. Cutler uses a unique curriculum to empower her students to protect the environment and tackle sustainability challenges. Students in Ms. Cutler's classes participate in hands-on learning projects such as sustainable gardening where they grow produce for their school cafeteria and local food pantries. As the chair of Andover's Green Advisory Board, she is always seeking to provide opportunities for her students to practice civic engagement to protect the environment.

Under Ms. Cutler's mentoring, local students have learned about and improved local projects promoting recycling and composting at nine schools, learned about other resource disposal issues, and learned about renewable energy sources for Andover High School.

Melanie Cutler said, "When learning about environmental science, it is essential to understand the issues at global and regional scales. While there is significant work being accomplished to improve the environment at international, national, and state levels, I believe that students learn best by focusing on local solutions. Being able to make an immediate difference in their own communities affirms students' sense of optimism and empowers them to continue to be responsible citizens in their future lives. I am very grateful to receive this award and would like to express gratitude to all of the administrators, colleagues, and community volunteers in Andover who have recognized the importance of environmental education and have supported my efforts over the years."

Carly Imhoff, a teacher at Ashford School in Ashford, Conn. was also honored by EPA with an Honorable Mention PIAEE award for her engaging instruction to her students. Under her guidance, students learn environmental education and engineering practices in a manner that connects her lessons to global challenges. She strives to provide environmental education opportunities for her students to collaborate with students of other cultures. She works closely with the local PTO, arranging assemblies focusing on different cultures. Ms. Imhoff led the Ashford School science teachers in acquiring a grant to build a greenhouse and creating a hands-on learning experience for the students in the greenhouse, through a curriculum that aligns with Next Generation Science Standards. She has even found ways to engage her students with research happening in space. For example, Ms. Imhoff and a colleague guide the technology and science departments to achieve incredible feats like communicating live with an astronaut on the International Space Station, and helping to ensure a student-designed experiment was conducted on the International Space Station.

Background

The Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators recognizes outstanding kindergarten through grade 12 teachers who employ innovative approaches to environmental education and use the environment as a context for learning for their students. Up to two teachers from each of EPA's 10 regions, from different states, may be selected annually to receive this award. The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), in partnership with EPA, administers this award to honor, support and encourage educators who incorporate environmental education in their classrooms and teaching methods.

More information:

Details on the PIAEE winners: https://www.epa.gov/education/presidential-innovation-award-environmental-educators-piaee-winners

Information on environmental education at EPA, visit https://www.epa.gov/education