Teachers of the Year

Every year, in collaboration with the Kalmanovitz School of Education, the Center for Environmental Literacy chooses a stellar educator as the KSOE Teacher of the Year.

Inspire the next generation of Earth Stewards

Do you know a teacher who... earth face

  • Inspires students of all backgrounds and abilities to learn?
  • Plays an active and useful role in the community as well as in the school?
  • Works actively in and out of the classroom to preserve and protect the earth?
  • Demonstrates a creative use of River of Words in the classroom and community?
  • Lives and teaches in the United States?

If so, consider nominating them to for consideration for the River of Words/Kalmanovitz School of Education Teacher of the Year Award! Each year, ROW/KSOE's Teacher of the Year is flown out for the River of Words Award Ceremony, to be honored for the work they do in their schools and communities. The Teacher of the Year is also asked to share their strategies and experience with Saint Mary's students and teachers in a workshop. In order to submit a nomination, send an email to rowinfo@stmarys-ca.edu with the heading "Teacher of the Year Nominee." Attach to that email a 1-2 page cover letter, in a commonly used document format (.doc, .docx, .pdf, .txt), which will serve as the actual application. Deadline for 2018: March 12th, 2018

In that cover letter, please tell us...

  • How long the candidate has been teaching, where they teach, what grade(s) and subject(s) they teach
  • How long the candidate has been incorporating River of Words or the Watershed Curriculum into their curriculum
  • Anything you feel we need to know in order to understand the candidate’s impact in their school and community

If you would like to attach additional materials, such as properly credited poems written by students of the nominee, or local news articles written by or about the nominee, you are welcome to do so. Please note that we can unfortunately not accept nominations of teachers outside the U.S. at this time.

See below for profiles on our most recent award recipients as well as a heartwarming example of the work our Teachers of the Year do, and how their impact is felt for generations.

2012 Teacher of the Year - Harriet Maher

2013 Teacher of the Year - John Oliver Simon

2014 Teacher of the Year - Joanna Fox

The legacy of teaching River of Words 

Olivia Henshaw-Black, age 12, submitted a poem to River of Words and won the 2013 River of Words Anacostia Watershed Prizewinner, Olivia Henshaw-Black, with her former teacher Anacostia Watershed Prize; Olivia's teacher, Anne Atwell Merkel, was a Grand Prize winner in the first ever River of Words Contest in 1996. Anne is the first ROW winner who has grown up to guide her students, the next generation, to explore their watershed through creating personal, environmental poetry.

But the story doesn't stop there. Anne Atwell Merkel's mother, Nancie Atwell, was named River of Words Teacher of the Year in 2010, and in 2013, four of Nancie's Center for Teaching and Learning students were selected as finalists in 2013. That year, when Nancie retired from the classroom, Anne was hired to teach in that same position. This story of two generations of teachers, a mother and daughter, passing down their legacy of environmental literacy is truly inspiring.

I Believe

I believe in gray days, itchy knee-high grass,
wool sweaters, overgrown paths, sips of vinegar,
dandelions bursting from the earth,
the birds that called back, cold bitter coffee,
the stale odor of basements, raging rivers, musty books,
the white caps in the bay, cool wings blowing from
the south, long walks accompanied by the wind,
the two-trunked tree in the side yard, the few precious
minutes before sunset, unevently stacked wood, fallen trees,
mossy rocks, gravel roads that end, slow-moving cars,
deep exhales of the mountain air, neatly-trimmed rose bushes,
cold showers, old men parked in their lawn chairs.
That some day life will live up to its enourmous expectations.

Theodore Matel, age 13
Edgecomb, Maine
Center for Teaching and Learning
Teacher: Anne Atwell-McLeod