A teacher at Gesu Catholic Elementary School and graduate of The University of Toledo’s LEADERS Program received a national education award for leading her school in projects to reduce the impact of climate change through education, action and prayer.Peggy Riehl, who teaches fifth grade, received the 2012 St. Francis Care for Creation Award from the National Council of Catholic Women. Bishop Leonard Blair presented her the award during a ceremony at the school Nov. 30.
Riehl graduated with a master of arts and education degree in education and geography from UT last summer after completing the Leadership for Educators: Academy for Driving Economic Revitalization in Science, or LEADERS Program that aims to improve K-12 science education to better prepare students for future careers in northwest Ohio’s renewable energy industry.
She was recognized with the award for taking what she learned in her UT courses in climate change and biofuels and then preparing professional development programs with Toledo Catholic Schools to train other science teachers to share the lessons with their students.
Riehl also maintains a rain garden with her science classes, provided starters for the parish youth group vegetable garden, coordinated an energy audit of the school with maintenance staff, and helped other teachers learn about carbon footprints to develop lessons that demonstrate to students how they can make footprints for change.
“Peggy is a wonderful example of the impact our teacher LEADERS can have on their students, their schools and the community,” said Dr. Kevin Czajkowski, UT professor of geography and principal investigator of the LEADERS Program that is funded by a $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation.
“Mrs. Riehl’s award recognizes the value of teaching science using a project-based approach, which makes science meaningful to students and matches the new science standards,” said Dr. Charlene Czerniak, UT professor of curriculum and instruction, and a co-investigator on the grant.