Daughter of Local Woman Wins Teaching Award
Dayna Darby, of Chicago, Ill., daughter of Whispering Pines resident Rita Jacuzzi Huber, has been named a winner of the 2009 Kohl McCormick Early Childhood Teaching Awards. Along with this honor, she will receive a $5,000 cash award for herself; a $1,000 cash award for her school; a classroom visit from the StoryBus, a children's museum on wheels; a classroom field trip, and day of professional development from the Kohl Children's Museum of Greater Chicago; and a graduate-level course at Chicago's renowned Erikson Institute. She will also be inducted into the Kohl McCormick Academy of Outstanding Educators at a luncheon on Tuesday, June 2, along with the other early childhood educators being honored during the '08-'09 school year.
When her group of first-graders began to ask questions about the garbage in the cafeteria -- Where does it go? Why is there so much? Why don't we recycle? -- Dayna Darby brought the garbage cans into the classroom and let them dig in. Choosing to teach by letting her students take the lead, she encouraged her children to sort through the refuse and work out the problem themselves.
"I believe that children hold the key to learning; my job is to help them find the correct door to place the key," she explains, and this particular door opened onto school-wide awareness about the lack of a cogent recycling program in Chicago.
Darby's students quickly realized that the school wasn't properly recycling, and began a reduce/reuse/recycle system in their classroom. They collected garbage cans, cleaned them out, and designated them specifically for the paper, plastic and glass items that should be sent to recycling compounds.
In a couple of months, her 6- and 7-year-olds had inspired the entire school, with everyone up to the seventh- and eighth-graders participating. Because of Dayna, a group of Talcott School's youngest students had motivated their elders to transform their thinking on garbage. But while everything went smoothly last year, this year the janitors found that accommodating the space needed for the program was too difficult, so the recycling bags that the children have been sorting so carefully aren't making it to the recycling compounds.
"It's heartbreaking," Dayna says of this realization. "But there's a teachable moment here, about how some things that might seem so easy can in fact become difficult, and about dedication and commitment."
The Kohl McCormick Early Childhood Teaching Awards are the first awards program to recognize formally the contributions of teachers working with children from infancy through third grade. In its 14th year, the Kohl McCormick Awards program has become a model for recognition of outstanding early childhood educators. The Kohl McCormick Early Childhood Teaching Awards are sponsored by the McCormick Foundation and the Dolores Kohl Education Foundation.
For more information about the Foundation and its efforts, visit www.McCormickFoundation.org
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