North Point teacher receives environmental education award
White House ceremony honored 11 teachers from across nation
A North Point High School environmental science teacher was recently honored at the White House with a national environmental education award.
Lolita Kiorpes, a biology and environmental sciences teacher at North Point High School, was one of 11 teachers nationwide to be selected to receive the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators, or PIAEE.
“It is quite an honor to be chosen, and to get to talk with like-minded people from around the country getting the award and to see what they’ve done and how they’re working to get students and community members environmentally aware,” Kiorpes said.
The awards were presented Aug. 16 during a ceremony at the White House.
The award recognizes outstanding kindergarten through 12th grade teachers who employ innovative approaches to environmental education and use the environment as a context for learning, according to the EPA website.
Kiorpes was one of two teachers selected for EPA Region 3, which includes Maryland, Penn-
sylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.
The award is presented by the White House Council on Environmental Quality, in partnership with the EPA, to honor, support and encourage educators who incorporate the environment into their classrooms and teaching.
Kiorpes, a resident of Port Republic, said she also took part in a roundtable discussion on environmental education with members of the EPA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Each instructor received an award plaque, a congratulatory award from a senior EPA official and/or the White House and an award of up to $2,500 to be used for professional development in environmental education.
The recipient’s school also receives an award of up to $2,500 to fund environmental educational activities and programs.
Kiorpes said she would like to use the money to get more equipment for the school, but also to develop more outdoor educational opportunities.
Nomination for the award involves submitting five essays, providing a sample of teaching materials and pictures, and three letters of support from an administrator, a fellow teacher and a past or current student, according to the application requirements listed on the EPA website.
Kiorpes said she was surprised when she was notified in mid-July.
“I was thinking that maybe I’d get an honorable mention,” Kiorpes said. “You never think you’re going to get the big award.”
According to the EPA award’s website, “[Kiorpes] places a strong emphasis on her students getting outdoors, participating in outdoor activities, and taking leadership and planning roles. She gives students numerous opportunities to experience the environment through canoeing, water quality testing, macroinvertebrate studies, trash collection and stream cleaning. Her students have educated community members about National Marine Sanctuaries, as well as planted native flower gardens and trees to increase awareness of climate change, watershed health, and ocean health.”
The site also mentions her work with the Department of Natural Resources-sponsored programs “Raising Horseshoe Crabs in the Classroom” and “Trout in the Classroom,” and with the NOAA Ocean Guardian program.
North Point was the first school in Maryland to be named an Ocean Guardian school by NOAA and will be receiving its second Ocean Guardian banner from NOAA, Kiorpes said.
SUBMITTED PHOTO Lolita Kiorpes, environmental sciences teacher at North Point High School, was one of 11 teachers nationwide honored during a ceremony at the White House Aug. 16.