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GREEN LIVING BLOG Awards $10,000 to Region’s Star Environmental Educators

COMMUNITY CENTERGreen EducationFeb 28, 2022Rebekah Eastep

Author: Rebekah Eastep

We are pleased to announce the winners of our Green Star Teacher Awards!

As part of our 10th anniversary year, the team, with support from HRSD, dedicated $10,000 in special funding to recognize 10 environmental educators who go above and beyond to bring environmental awareness to tomorrow’s leaders. In all, we received over 40 nominations for the awards – a demonstration of the immense talent and leadership we have right here in the 757. Please join us in congratulating our very deserving Green Star Teacher Award winners – who each received a $1000 grant – and honorable mentions!


  Tonya Bangley / Kings Fork High School, Suffolk 

Ms. Bangley was nominated for developing and implementing watershed education programs including training high school students to teach watershed programming to middle school students, converting a stormwater pond into an outdoor classroom, teaching EcoCamp to 4th graders, and leading the Kings Fork High School Ecology Club which has grown to over 60 student participants. With her award funds, Ms. Bangley plans to build a greenhouse to grow native plants from seeds for the outdoor learning lab and educate the community about the importance of planting natives.

 Crissie Crusemire / Academy for Discovery at Lakewood, Norfolk

Ms. Crusemire was nominated for her leadership in environmental stewardship. From initiating school recycling programs to coordinating field trips and maintaining a community garden, her work has immersed students in real world interactions with the environment. Ms. Crusemire plans to use her funding to expand outdoor learning spaces and the community garden at Academy for Discovery at Lakewood.


  Michele Ferrel / Kilgore Gifted Center, Hampton

Ms. Ferrel models for her students what it means to help the environment. She has created a love of the environment within her students and inspired through hands-on environmental experiences such as litter pickups, tending the butterfly garden, and field trips to the local landfill. With the grant award, Ms. Ferrel plans to host an environmental fair for her young learners who are investigating pollinators, gardens, the schoolyard pond, and much more.


  Pamela Hall / Carrollton Elementary School, Isle of Wight County

Everything Ms. Hall does with her students is hands-on, life-applicable, sustainable, and green. Her students have learned to repurpose everything from plastic bags to cereal boxes to egg cartons. Ms. Hall has also taught her students about renewable energy and plans to use her award funds to help students incorporate wind and solar energy into their engineering projects.


  Angela McElroy / Nansemond River High School, Suffolk

Ms. McElroy’s emphasis on environmentalism and civic responsibility extends outside the walls of her classroom and into the entire school. She collects recycling and personally disposes of it off-campus and encouraged the installation of water bottle refilling stations which decreased demand for wasteful single-use bottled water. Ms. McElroy will use her grant funds to support her Oceanography students at their upcoming fair. Students will educate their peers through posters and games and distribute eco-friendly prizes like reusable shopping bags and straws.


  Charlie Morse / Williamsburg Community Growers, Williamsburg-James City County

Mr. Morse is a retired educator who substitute teaches and volunteers at a school garden. He serves on the board for Williamsburg Community Growers – an urban farm and community garden – where he volunteers dozens of hours a week year-round. In that capacity he has helped K-5 students grow seedlings, overseen Scout projects to build and install greenhouses and raised beds, and worked with high school students to conduct project-based learning in engineering and conservation on the urban farm. Mr. Morse plans to use the funds to work with high school students on either a vermicomposting project for food waste from the school cafeteria or a solar power system for the teaching farm.


  Melissa Powell-Riedl / Paul Burbank Elementary School, Hampton

Ms. Powell-Riedl fosters environmental stewardship in her students by implementing classroom, cafeteria, and school-wide recycling programs, taking students on nature walks, showing them how to care for birds, frogs, and insects, and planting vegetables and butterfly-friendly flowers. Ms. Powell-Riedl plans to use the Green Star Award funds to increase the growing area of the school garden with more raised beds for vegetables in an outdoor classroom setting that is accessible to more students.


  Jeannette Reynolds / Rosemont Elementary, Virginia Beach

Ms. Reynolds shares her passion for the environment with students in a variety of ways. She has created a vegetable garden as well as a pollinator garden, planted multiple trees on the school campus, teaches students about oysters and water quality, and has lead efforts to participate in Lynnhaven River Now’s Pearl Schools program. Ms. Reynolds will use her funds for  “Fleury’s Garden” – an authentic learning experience for over 400 kindergarten through fifth grade students at Rosemont Elementary School.


  Adrienne Sawyer / Chesapeake Public Schools

As Supervisor of Elementary Science for Chesapeake Public Schools, Ms. Sawyer has written and designed project-based learning experiences for students to identify problems and explore solutions. Over the past few years, she has worked on reducing standing water in schoolyards, reducing erosion by planting gardens, reducing pollution on school grounds, reducing single-use plastics in the cafeteria, and more. Ms. Sawyer will use the funding for sensors to conduct temperature audits and identify heat islands in one section of Chesapeake. Volunteers will then plant trees in identified areas to increase the tree canopy.


  Kathleen (Kathy) Shambo / Southside STEM Academy at Campostella, Norfolk

Ms. Shambo has planted native plants around the school, coordinated Clean the Bay Day activities with fifth grade students, and is creating an environmental club where students will create a learning garden, participate in creek restoration activities, conduct litter cleanups, and explore composting cafeteria waste. She plans to use grant funds to help jump-start the eco-club with native plantings, rain barrels, composting, and recycling bins for the school.

Honorable Mentions

While we could only pick 10 award winners, we were overwhelmed by the passion and dedication of ALL of our nominees. They are all STARS in our eyes! Please join us in congratulating all our our nominees for their great work.

Name School/Organization Locality
Gabby Toni Western Branch Middle School Chesapeake
Kim Thompson Greenbrier Intermediate School Chesapeake
Dory Suttmiller Deep Creek Middle School Chesapeake
Mallary Reynolds Samuel P. Langley Elementary School Hampton
Alexis Tharpe George P. Phenix PreK-8 School Hampton
Kathryn Kilgore Samuel P. Langley Elementary School Hampton
Ashley Ault Hampton High School Hampton
Marilyn Gardner Phoebus High School Hampton
Sharon Hansley Hardy Elementary School Isle of Wight
Hugh Beard Lafayette High School James City County/Williamsburg
Ateba Whitaker Unreasonable Kids College Newport News
Sherry Miller Denbigh Early Childhood Center Newport News
Daniel Ellis Booker T. Washington Middle School Newport News
Betty Baucom Lindenwood Elementary School Norfolk
Christine Roche-Posey Kilby Shores Elementary Suffolk
Bridget Dennis Nansemond Parkway Elementary Suffolk
Dianna McDowell VBCPS Environmental Studies Program Virginia Beach
Amy Furlich Corporate Landing Elementary School Virginia Beach
Jared Fritzinger Old Donation School Virginia Beach
Kevin Rickard Newtown Elementary School Virginia Beach
Emma Osbourne White Oaks Elementary School Virginia Beach
Nicholas Tempest John B. Dey Elementary School Virginia Beach
Sarah Pierce Cox High School Virginia Beach
Diana Smith Armed Services YMCA/Pre-K (Early Childhood Teacher) Virginia Beach
Amanda Merullo Fairfield Elementary School Virginia Beach
Ashley Rose Yorktown Middle School York County