Dream in Green Teachers Win 2016 Spirit of Service-Learning Award

By: Karla Utting

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Four Green Schools Challenge and WE-LAB  teacher champions won the 2016 Spirit of Service-Learning Award. They were honored on October 22nd at the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens by the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of South Florida, the Miami-Dade County Teacher of the Year Coalition, and the Armando Alejandre Jr. Memorial Foundation for integrating service into their curriculum to improve learning, address community needs, and foster lifelong civic engagement among students.

“The four teachers recognized by the Miami-Dade Teacher of the Year Coalition are so impressive,” said Josh Young, Director, Institute for Civic Engagement and Democracy (iCED) at Miami-Dade College. “And the impact Dream and Green is having in their schools is truly outstanding and inspirational.” 

These K-12 educators received the Spirit of Service-Learning Award for inspiring a new generation of conscientious citizens committed to working for the common good. Dream in Green is proud of our teachers’ accomplishments and grateful for their dedication to our programs. The Spirit of Service-Learning Award recognizes the impact they had through their leadership at K-12 schools. They not only did an amazing job at spearheading the programs but were also fully committed to inspiring students to be part of the solution regarding local and global environmental challenges. These teachers are transforming learning, strengthening democracy and contributing meaningfully to the common good by awakening and empowering students for lifelong civic engagement.  

“I am honored and humbled to receive the Spirit of Service-Learning Award, particularly from such distinguished sponsors,” said Ms. Hannah Purcell from Air Base K-8 Center. “I owe the spirit of this award to my school family who time and time again show the true spirit of service, of dedication and collaboration. The spirit of learning belongs to my students who willingly become inspired through our environmental endeavors and are empowered to take action. It begins as one pebble—one person, one action—the effect quickly rippling further and further outward, soon encompassing, embracing and empowering everyone. Experiencing this magic invigorates us all toward a more sustainable future,” expressed Ms. Purcell.

It was no surprise to Dream in Green staff that these teacher champions were selected as finalists and winners of the Spirit of Service-Learning Award. They went above and beyond in implementing The Academy’s programs at their schools during the 2015-16 academic year and showed full commitment to educating their students, as well as empowering them to design their own energy and environmental solutions. The students completed creative activities each month related to energy efficiency and conservation, waste reduction and recycling, water conservation, alternative transportation, food efficiency and ‘green’ living (buildings and careers).

“It is with love and passion that for the past ten years I have been organizing and developing programs and activities that educate our children about environmentally sustainable behaviors. I want to thank Dream in Green for their nomination and belief in my efforts. I am humbled and honored to have received The Spirit of Service-Learning Award,” said Ms. Sharon Altfield from Pinecrest Elementary.

The Peace Corps is comprised of Americans dedicated to uplifting the world through service. For many of these volunteers, teachers who had motivated them throughout their school years to serve and help others were an important aspect of their development as future Peace Corps leaders. Educators who foster a desire in their students to improve others’ lives selflessly are vital to creating the next generation of service leaders.

***Winners:  Ms. Hannah Purcell (Air Base K-8 Center), Ms. Sharon Altfield (Pinecrest Elementary), Ms. Cary Cabrera (Cypress K-8 Center), and Ms. Navia Gomez (Dante B. Fascell Elementary)

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