Environmental Educator for 2012
Coosa High teacher named CRBI Environmental Educator for 2012
Posted on 01/31/2012
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Marie Lewis, a science teacher at Coosa High School, was recognized with the Coosa River Basin Initiative’s (CRBI) Environmental Educator Award at the CRBI annual membership meeting held Monday evening January 30 at Northwest Georgia Technical College. According to the CRBI website, the Coosa River Basin Initiative is a grassroots environmental organization based in Rome with the mission of informing and empowering citizens to protect, preserve and restore North America's most biologically diverse river basin.

Marie Lewis has been a science instructor at Coosa High School for 24 years during which time her duties have included department head, mentoring new teachers, and coaching. Approximately seven years ago, when the state was rolling out the new Georgia Performance Science Standards, Lewis combined the new standards with new teaching strategies she had learned from school system assessment training to seek “real life” learning experiences for her students. She wanted teens to connect what they were learning in her class with the world around them in Northwest Georgia. She wanted to demonstrate to students the importance of sustainable environmental development and to show how humans were impacting our environment. “Students are able to see what type of Eco Footprint we are placing on our own environment,” stated Lewis. “The sparkle in their eyes and fun they have lets me know kids are learning, and making connections that will last a lifetime.” 

With the approval of the Floyd County Administration, along with Joe Cook of the Coosa River Basin Initiative, Eric Lynnberg environmentalist of the City of Rome, parents, and the volunteers of the Rome Emergency Management team Mrs. Lewis allowed students from Coosa High’s Honors Biology Class to experience a study of a river’s ecosystem. The class used the extensive resources of the Rome area waterways including the Etowah River, Coosa River, Big Cedar Creek and Brushy Branch. The state standards based lessons allowed the Honor Biology students to explore Environmental Biology in an approximate 2-3 week window. Topics included nonpoint, point source pollution, ecology of a river system, determining the health of a river or tributary, investigating macro invertebrates, water and soil quality testing , participation in the Big Cedar Brushy Branch stream bank clean up in cooperation with Ga. Power and Temple Inland, and understanding how the community works together developing solutions to keep our environment safe. Joe Cook, executive director of CRBI, said, “We appreciate all Mrs. Lewis does to engage her students in hands on learning experiences and get them out on the rivers.” 

Many of Lewis’ students from the Honors Biology and other volunteers from the Science Club at CHS have volunteered for CRBI fundraising events. Students have served as scorekeepers for the Ecology Quiz Bowl or score runners for competition events. Lewis added, “Even though we are just a “spoke” in part of the wheel of environmental awareness of Rome and Floyd County, involving students in these experiences allows them to be more aware of how we impact the environment and hopefully they can be a part of developing solutions for future preservation.”