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Area middle schools named Pa. Chesapeake Champions

July 24, 2013
  • Waynesboro Area Middle School is now a National Geographic PA Chesapeake Champion school. WAMS middle school teachers, Tawyna Finney, Bryan Flickinger, Lori Schlosser and Kristin Zaruba celebrate with their students during a recent banner presentation at the school.
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WAYNESBORO, Pa. — Waynesboro Area Middle School, Greencastle-Antrim Middle School, James Buchanan Middle School and St. Andrew School have become Pennsylvania Chesapeake Champion schools under the National Geographic Society’s Chesapeake Bay Watershed Education Scale-up Initiative, an innovative project that uses 21st-century geospatial technology to engage students in investigations of watershed concepts.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) awarded National Geographic a nearly $1 million grant to support the program, according to a news release.

The watershed education initiative was designed to provide professional development for 400 teachers across eight states in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, enabling them to incorporate effective lesson plans on watershed conservation into their curricula.

The leader of the project in Pennsylvania is Janet S. Smith, a professor in the Geography-Earth Science department at Shippensburg University and coordinator for the PA Alliance for Geographic Education.

“This grant provided an opportunity for many terrific Pennsylvania teachers to come together, discuss issues related to Chesapeake Bay education, and learn about some new approaches to engage their students to think critically about our local and historical connections to the Chesapeake Bay,” Smith said in the news release. 

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In partnership with Shippensburg University, Waynesboro’s Renfrew Institute for Cultural and Environmental Studies was selected as a local partner to help implement the multi-state education initiative in Pennsylvania.

“Renfrew Institute has a long track record with watershed education for all ages. The institute also is headquarters and training center for Antietam Watershed Association’s citizen stream monitoring program.

This Bay watershed education project is a perfect fit for our mission, so we are very excited and honored to be involved,” said Melodie Anderson-Smith, executive director of Renfrew Institute.

The initiative provides for the development of customized curriculum materials that align with state educational standards, along with professional training for 50 educators in each state, with a goal of implementing the new curricula and fieldwork elements with students by the end of this school year.

Tawnya Finney from Waynesboro Area Middle School is the lead teacher of the Chesapeake Champions team at her school.

“Because of this class, many of our students participated in a community service project of revitalizing the rain garden located on our school campus. Classroom content becomes more rich and meaningful when students can apply it to real life scenarios,” she said.

Other teachers on the WAMS Chesapeake Champions team were Bryan Flickinger, Lori Schlosser and Kristen Zaruba.

Overall, the initiative will provide as many as 20,000 students within the Bay Watershed with a dynamic, geographic learning experience that combines classroom learning with outdoor field experiences backed up by the latest in collaborative online mapping technologies, the news release said.

Fourteen schools participated in the 2012-2013 Pennsylvania Chesapeake Champions program throughout Pennsylvania’s Bay Watershed, with additional schools to be included in 2013-2014.

For more information, contact Smith at jssmit@ship.edu or 717-477-1757.

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