Eric Nelson, Mathematics Teacher, New Britain High School, New Britain, Connecticut
Eric Nelson incorporates environmental-based problems into his daily math lessons, making the subject come alive for students and imparting valuable environmental content. He helped his school become a PLT GreenSchool and now advises their active Green Team. Students on the Green Team implement action plans based on their investigations. They took home the top prize in the Connecticut Business and Industry Association’s competitive challenge for their efforts to save energy, reduce waste, and spread the word about environmental responsibility. Eric is also the lead teacher in Cyber-Challenge, a multi-partner program for urban high schools in the state. He maintains a strong focus on service learning and student voice.
“Eric has high expectations coupled with a well-thought, strategic plan for supporting students in meeting those expectations. He creates an environment in which students are active participants in their learning.”
– Kerri-Lynn Major, Associate Principal–Freshman Academy, New Britain High School, New Britain, Connecticut
Eric was named National PLT Outstanding Educator Honoree in 2014.
Lynn Kochiss is recognized for her commitment and expertise in connecting her students and their families to the outdoors. She is a strong proponent of integrating environmental education throughout the curriculum, in science, language arts, and math. She has organized numerous PLT workshops, including a customized training for special education teachers, to show educators how PLT complements their lessons, meets state education standards, and gets students outside, learning about nature and environmental issues.
Tapping into her students’ interests, Lynn created the Woodside School Earth Club, the school’s only after-school program with a wait list. As part of the club’s activities, students in grades 3 to 5 take action to improve their school, from setting up a school-wide recycling program that includes electronics, to establishing winter bird feeders.
As an active volunteer with the Connecticut Forest and Park Association’s WalkCT Family Ramble program, Lynn frequently guides families on nature walks, National Trails Day outings, and other outdoor events such as bird watching on Connecticut trails. She uses PLT activities to raise awareness and appreciation for the environment in a fun and educational way. For example, in PLT’s “The Forest of S.T. Shrew” activity, participants examine a fallen tree, and questions about rot, insects, and fungus lead to engaging discussions and discovery. Kochiss’ “Stories by the Fire” activity has audiences spellbound listening to tales about wildlife in the New England winter.
“Lynn not only creates an energized and positive climate in her classroom, but also she strives to bring that energy throughout our school community.”
– Paula M. Talty, Assistant Superintendent, Cromwell Public Schools, Cromwell, Connecticut
Lynn was named National PLT Outstanding Educator in 2013.