HIGH SPRINGS – High Springs Community School media specialist Judith Weaver is one of just twenty teachers nationwide to be honored for her work in environmental education.

  The U.S. Green Building Council named Weaver as a Trailblazing Teacher for 2013, an award reserved for teachers who have demonstrated their commitment to advance environmental awareness and who bring environmental sustainability into the classroom.

  In a congratulatory letter, Anisa Baldwin Metzger, manager of the Center for Green Schools Fellowship Program in Washington, D.C., praised Weaver.

  “Your application stood out as an incredible example of deep student engagement and innovative classroom instruction,” Metzger wrote.

  Weaver was recognized for coordinating a wide variety of learning activities focused on the importance of water conservation. As a starting point, she used a book called "Long Walk for Water," which tells the story of a Sudanese girl who must walk four hours every day for water.

  “We wanted kids to be aware of how lucky we are, that we have a resource we need to protect," Weaver said. "Otherwise, it may not always be there."

  One of the learning activities used by Weaver involved students carrying jugs of water around campus to raise both awareness and money to build wells in Cambodia, a project sponsored by the local Rotary Club. Students also designed and built water towers, visited a water exhibit at the University of Florida, listened to expert guest speakers, learned about springs and aquifers and heard about threats to the water supply.

  Students also learned about small things they could do to help protect that supply, like turning off water when they brushed their teeth.

  “Little things like that build up, small things matter,” Weaver said. “We can’t wait for government or corporations to fix things, it has to start with us.”

  She cited the collaboration between language arts, math, science and social studies teachers, who used materials and designed classroom activities that complemented the water conservation theme. As a result, students boosted their academic skills while expanding their awareness of an important environmental issue, Weaver said.

  The Environmental Protection Agency also recognized the High Springs Community School in 2013 for their reduction in water use at the school by 70 percent, as well as for the school’s environmental education activities.

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