Meet the 2018 winners of The Patsy Collins Award for Excellence in Education, Environment, and Community: Laura Tyler, Jennie Warmouth, and Elizabeth Wing. These teachers were honored for their commitment and innovation in connecting classroom learning to their students’ environment and communities. Their teaching philosophies, projects, and partnerships attest to their belief in the capacity of students to make a difference and to the important role of field study and community engagement in education.
Established in memory of Patsy Collins by an anonymous donor at Seattle Foundation and administered by IslandWood, the $10,000 prize is given annually to three teachers in Washington K-12 schools.
Collins was a community leader, philanthropist, and IslandWood benefactor. As longtime family friend Kenan Block recalled, “Patsy Collins’s heroes were teachers. It was the teachers who were taking young people, exposing them, exciting them, and transforming their understanding of the world around them.”
IslandWood is proud to partner with Seattle Foundation in granting this award and honoring both the legacy of Patsy Collins and these three extraordinary teachers.
Laura Tyler, South Shore PK-8 School, Seattle, WA
Middle school science teacher, Laura Tyler has been advocating for environmental education, in her words, “long before it was trendy.” Thirty years ago, she helped start Seattle Public School District’s recycling program. In the years since, she has continued in a leadership role, serving on the board of Washington Science Teachers Association, the Seattle Schools Next Generation Science Standards adoption committee, and elsewhere. Today, she takes her students on weekly walking field trips to observe the seasonal changes and to use the natural environment as a lab to study biology, geology, chemistry, and physics. Multiple generations of her students have worked on local restoration projects. She has partnered with Seattle Parks and Recreation in the East Duwamish Beltway and Seattle Tilth in Rainier Beach Farm and Urban Wetland. She also secured funding for her students to decorate a chain-link fence in a local park with native flowers they created from plastic bottles. “I want [my students] to be keen observers of different environments, tenacious problem solvers, and critical thinkers,” says Laura.
Jennie Warmouth, Spruce Elementary School (Edmonds School District), Lynnwood, WA
“I am deeply committed to nurturing my students’ sense of resiliency and agency through animal-focused stewardship.” Since 2004, Jennie Warmouth has been teaching her students to write online adoption advertisements for homeless dogs and cats awaiting adoption at the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in Lynnwood, WA. Her students have helped over 500 “difficult to place” dogs and cats find forever homes. Jennie inspires her students to use their emerging communication and critical thinking skills to tackle human-animal and environmental dilemmas that they witness in their own lives. Most recently, her second and third grade students advocated for the humane treatment of live butterflies used in their school district’s life sciences curricula. “They are motivated toward compassionate action and stewardship that extends beyond the four walls of our classroom,” she says.
Elizabeth Wing, Carnation Elementary School, Carnation, WA
“A thriving educational environment is one that fosters relationships beyond the classroom walls and empowers students as members of their communities.” Elizabeth Wing has cultivated this community engagement through numerous partnerships. In a study of Pacific Northwest Native Americans and the vital role of salmon, her students worked alongside Snoqualmie tribal members in habitat restoration along salmon spawning water routes. Her students helped their school become a King County Level Four Sustainable School by educating the community on reducing and recycling waste and on energy and water conservation. Most recently, Carnation Elementary became a 2018 National US Green School award winner. With Oxbow Farm, a local organic farm and education center, Elizabeth has designed lessons on sustainability and the environment. She also connected the district’s food service director to local organic farmers to supply produce for lunches. The school is now a USDA Bronze Level Farm to School Site.