Lisa Saunders, Fifth Grade Teacher, Bicentennial Elementary School, Nashua, New Hampshire
Lisa Saunders was part of New Hampshire PLT’s Connecting Schools to People and Places program, which began in 2007 and helped develop an outdoor classroom, among many other initiatives. She is known for her innovative and effective strategies to teach students about water systems. She has been a strong advocate for PLT through her role on a district team to align curriculum with state standards, and several PLT activities are now a part of the K-5 district science curriculum. Lisa has also been part of a Math Science Partnership cohort to bring PLT and other environmental education programs into the classroom.
“Lisa’s approach to science and environmental education is empowering. The lessons in her classroom extend to the community as a whole, changing attitudes and lifelong behaviors.”
– Kyle Langille, Principal, Bicentennial Elementary School, Nashua, New Hampshire
Lisa was named National PLT Outstanding Educator Honoree in 2015.
Kyle Langille, Principal, Bicentennial Elementary School, Nashua, New Hampshire
Kyle Langille has led Bicentennial Elementary and its staff to integrate environmental education throughout the curriculum. Under her leadership, Bicentennial participated in a three-year partnership with New Hampshire PLT called “Connecting Schools to People and Place,” and she ensured that the effort would be sustained after the program officially ended in 2011. Various green initiatives are now a staple of school life, and Bicentennial was recognized as a PLT GreenSchool in 2011. Kyle ensures that environmental education is taught at every grade in ways that strengthen learning and adhere to state standards. In fact, the school’s science standardized test scores have improved as a direct result of her environmental education integration.
“Involvement in PLT has made a difference for teaching and learning at Bicentennial…Project Learning Tree would not have happened [at Bicentennial] without Kyle’s support, direction, and enthusiasm.”
– Althea Sheaff, Assistant Superintendent of Schools, Nashua
Kyle was named National PLT Outstanding Educator Honoree in 2012.
Diane St. Jean, Seventh and Eighth Grade Reading Teacher, Barrington Middle School, Barrington, New Hampshire
It was Diane St. Jean’s passion for integrated learning that first brought her to PLT. A reading teacher at Barrington Middle School in Barrington, New Hampshire, she attended her first workshop in 2008 and immediately saw the potential in using PLT with her seventh and eighth grade students. The next year, Diane took part in New Hampshire’s A Forest For Every Classroom, a year-long program that immerses teachers in the study of natural science and strategies for integrating it into their curricula. She developed an interdisciplinary unit to connect her students with their school forest. She created a short documentary about the area, helped her students experience their forest, and then challenged them to write their thoughts. She has also developed other strategies to engage her students in the environment throughout the school year while strengthening their language arts skills. She is known as an “outside-the-box” teacher who is always thinking of ways to improve student learning.
Diane was named National PLT Outstanding Educator Honoree in 2011.
Susan Cox, a conservation education coordinator for the U.S. Forest Service in Durham, New Hampshire, began her career as a forester specializing in forest health. Later, she became interested in pursuing a career that specifically involved adult learners, so she earned a master’s degree in adult education.
Susan promotes learning about forests and the environment by forging partnerships between natural resource professionals and educators within the 20-state northeastern region. She incorporates PLT’s hands-on curriculum to provide educators with teaching strategies and science content so that they, in turn, can train teachers, youth program leaders, and students. Susan helps advise the U.S. Forest Service in its education and outreach mission. She helped design and deliver programs for teachers and other educators in several other states, including teacher forestry tours in Maine and watershed institutes for teachers in New York.
Nationally, she has advised the Council of State Science Supervisors on incorporating environmental education into state science standards and other policies to enhance science literacy and instruction. In New Hampshire, she is part of a team working on developing a statewide environmental literacy plan. Susan has helped New Hampshire PLT design and implement “A Forest for Every Classroom,” a year-long professional development series for middle and high school educators that uses place-based education to foster student understanding of—and appreciation for—the forested lands in their communities. Susan is past president of New Hampshire Environmental Educators, the state’s professional environmental education organization, as well as an active participant in the NH Science Teacher Leaders Group.
“Susan is extremely gifted in her ability to collaborate and bring about change in environmental education at the national, regional, and local levels, and across diverse organizations.”
– Esther Cowles, Executive Director, New Hampshire PLT
Susan was named National PLT Outstanding Educator in 2010.
Jonathan Nute, Forest Resources Extension Educator, University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire
Jonathan (Jon) Nute is a professional forester who uses PLT to make the connection between natural resources and education. After growing up in New Hampshire’s forests, he earned an undergraduate degree in history and considered a career in law before returning to the woods. He worked as a logger for seven years and then earned a graduate degree in forestry. In his current position, Jon leads nature walks, works with urban youth in a summer program, and trains teachers how to use PLT in their classrooms, among many other initiatives. He draws on PLT in his work with pre-service teachers, landowners, and community stakeholders. Jon promotes PLT to other foresters across the state, encouraging them to use PLT’s resources in their forest education programs. He continually embodies PLT’s goals in his work while modeling its effective use to students and parents.
Jon was named National PLT Outstanding Educator Honoree in 2009.
Ina Ahern teaches chemistry, physics, and environmental science to grades 10-12 at Plymouth Regional High School in Plymouth, New Hampshire. Her passion for and commitment to the environment led her to make local issues a large part of her curriculum through an integrated, place-based, and hands-on approach.
A high school science teacher for 25 years, Ina often makes presentations to other educators about how to incorporate the local environment into teaching. In 2006, she was one of a pioneer group of teachers to participate in the year-long program “A Forest for Every Classroom,” co-sponsored in New Hampshire by PLT, the U.S. Forest Service, and Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest. She has formally presented her experiences with the program to incoming teachers. She also used her “Forest for Every Classroom” experience to strengthen the field-study project her students conduct on their local watershed each year, building strong ties between the school, its community, and local natural resource professionals—a great reflection of how PLT materials can best be used.
Ina embodies the ethic of lifelong learning and works hard to foster this love of learning in her students. For her, the outdoors is an extension of the classroom, and studying the natural environment and the local community is a key strategy for bringing academics to life. Ina is committed to making environmental education a part of New Hampshire schools. Last year, she participated in a summer institute to sequence and correlate PLT activities (along with the environmental education materials from four other programs) to New Hampshire’s science frameworks for grades K-12. She also participates in the Merrimack River Watershed Ecology program and collaborates with the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest to adapt their biogeochemical forest ecosystem research for the high school classroom.
Ina was named National PLT Outstanding Educator in 2008.
Katharine Fralick, Professor of Education, Plymouth State University, Plymouth, New Hampshire
Katharine (Katy) Fralick has taught at Plymouth State University for 20 years. All of her undergraduate education students receive PLT training to introduce them to various teaching strategies and to help them become comfortable with both the content and skills they will need to teach. Her students are required to apply what they learned in the PLT workshop in their field assignments in local public schools, as well as to demonstrate their PLT lessons to their classmates. As part of their course requirements, students in her methods classes design and teach an interdisciplinary unit on an environmental topic using PLT activities. Katy is leading the way to further embed PLT in Plymouth State University’s coursework and has encouraged fellow faculty to become trained PLT facilitators. Furthermore, Katy has been instrumental in helping the New Hampshire PLT staff develop an established, effective pre-service program.
Katy was named National PLT Outstanding Educator Honoree in 2007.