Reeda Hart of Northern Kentucky University Named 2010 National Project Learning Tree Outstanding Educator
Washington, D.C. - Project Learning Tree® (PLT), the environmental education program of the American Forest Foundation, has announced that Reeda Hart, a science outreach specialist at Northern Kentucky University in Highland Heights, was named one of five 2010 National PLT Outstanding Educators. She is a resident of Falmouth.
PLT's Outstanding Educators are selected for their commitment to environmental education, their exemplary use of PLT, and their exceptional teaching skills. Hart will be honored at PLT's 24th International Coordinators' Conference in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, May 17°©-20.
Hart has worked at Northern Kentucky University's (NKU) Center for Integrative Natural Science and Mathematics for the past seven years. Before that, she was an elementary school teacher for 27 years. In her current role as science outreach specialist with NKU, Hart takes PLT into classrooms in six school systems, integrating the environment into academic lessons and modeling teaching practices for teachers. She has created units on topics ranging from water to energy to life cycles, using PLT as a foundation to provide interactive content that supplements the teaching of core subjects, methods for elaboration, and assessment tools. Over a three-year period during which she worked with six schools, the schools' Academic Index scores rose significantly.
Hart also helps the schools she works with design and develop outdoor classrooms, and emphasizes training for teachers in PLT to ensure the spaces are used as effective teaching tools. Hart is trained as a PLT facilitator, which means that she can train other teachers how to use PLT's preK-12 environmental education curricula. "If we multiply the number of teachers by the number of students they reach each year, times the number of years they teach, it tells us how powerful it is to be a facilitator," Hart notes, realizing that her work has touched the lives of thousands of students.
Hart helped develop PLT's new Early Childhood program that was launched nationally on February 17. This curriculum resource, designed specifically for early childhood educators, uses developmentally appropriate techniques for connecting young students to nature. With Hart's assistance, NKU is beginning an Early Childhood Alliance to provide PLT training to local preschool teachers.
"Her enthusiasm and positive attitude toward science has spread to others," noted teachers at Dry Ridge Elementary School in Dry Ridge who recommended Hart for the honor. "Students know she makes learning fun, and parents, the school nurse, janitors and other Grant County employees have been found 'sneaking in' to hear her lessons, too."
"Project Learning Tree is proud to honor Reeda Hart, whose passion for environmental education is helping students learn about the world around them, and their responsibility for it," said Kathy McGlauflin, Director of Project Learning Tree and Senior Vice President of Education for the American Forest Foundation. "PLT is known for quality environmental education because dedicated educators like Reeda use PLT to engage students in hands-on learning about the environment, both inside the classroom and outdoors."
In addition to attending the PLT International Coordinators Conference, Hart is invited to attend the World Forestry Center's International Educators' Institute, July 11-16, in Portland, Oregon.