By Mollie Behn, CWC Education Coordinator
Thank you Santa Cruz County teachers! Over the past two years, as CWC Education Coordinator, I have had the incredible privilege to work with K-8th grade teachers across Santa Cruz County. Last year, I partnered with 68 teachers across the county to reach 3,452 students. I’ve been in a classroom in Aptos that sounds like a choir as a result of the creative call and response strategy a teacher uses. I have observed a teacher in Capitola sharing intriguing current stories to explain scientific phenomena so students can so clearly understand its concept in ways that relate to them. I have been inspired by a teacher in Freedom who empowered her students to lead a “reduce waste” service learning project at their school following a visit to a landfill. Moved to tears by a teacher in San Lorenzo Valley who calls her kindergarten and first Grade students “friends,” creating a welcoming community for all students.
With each teacher I’ve had the honor to work with, I’ve experienced the pure impact and power all teachers have to inspire you, empower you, guide you, listen to you and challenge you. It is with these teachers that I have found myself growing, learning, and being inspired by the truly genuine commitment to help their students experience their full potential and to grow as human beings and students. I’ve been a student myself with these teachers, learning from their approach and their relationship with their students. Yet the lessons extend far beyond being an effective educator to lessons I believe apply to our lives. Classroom teachers have taught me to:
- Listen to others and hear what is behind what is being shared
- Fully extend your heart in all interactions, practicing compassion, patience and care even when its a challenging situation
- Embrace change and challenge, be ready to be flexible and adaptable at any moment.
- See the full potential in others and support them in realizing it for themselves
- Don’t take yourself so seriously
- Be a positive leader, modeling positive behavior and expectations
- Careful planning makes a difference
- Go outside your comfort zone and you’ll be rewarded
- Apply lessons learned to new situations.
I’m seizing this teaching moment and applying my lessons learned to how we can protect of our watershed. As we share advice on Best Management Practices ourselves and our neighbors can take on to reduce stormwater runoff, we can be a positive leader, modeling the positive behavior. We can listen deeply to others and hear what is being shared behind those words to learn more about their interest and experience with the San Lorenzo River. When seeking to build a stronger community of people experiencing the San Lorenzo River, we can fully extend our heart to others to make them feel welcome.
Teachers are full of perseverance, commitment to self and others, compassion, honesty and creativity. I am so appreciative to all my teacher partners and friends for being a source of inspiration, power and commitment as I continue my commitment to connect youth with our watershed and the ways we can continue to support its health. Thank you teachers of Santa Cruz County.