Stacy Wolff, a science teacher at Flagstaff Academy Charter School, received an Outstanding Environmental Educator Award in early November from the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education.
Wolff accepted the honor at the organization’s 26th Annual Excellence in Environmental Education Awards Celebration, which highlights organizations, schools and people from across Colorado who are making a difference.
When Wolff found out she received the award, she jumped up and down with excitement, she said.
“What this means to me, is that there’s potential for other people to learn about the things and programming that we’re doing, and perhaps be interested in implementing something in their own schools or communities,” Wolff explained.
The elementary school teacher was highlighted for her innovation, leadership and commitment to environmental education. For more than a decade, Wolff spearheaded some successful programs at Flagstaff Academy Charter School, including a student-based environmental club — The Green Team — which implemented a school-wide recycling initiative, a cafeteria food rescue table and a native prairie habitat outdoor classroom.
“It’s been really exciting to see how things have morphed over the years — starting with just a few students, all the way up to our 50-something students that we have now in The Green Team,” Wolff said. “One of the really exciting things that I’ve seen come from the initiatives, is that they seem to inspire action in other students who are not even part of our Green Team.”
The club has helped create a culture in the school of environmental awareness, she explained.
“Students are noticing trash that blows in on a windy day, and they’ll go out and collect it during recess,” Wolff explained. “There’s a student who now wants to start battery recycling at our school — so it’s neat to see how the actions of some are inspiring others to not only start their own projects, but speak up and advocate for things that we’re already doing.”
Wolff also spearheaded other initiatives, such as a scientific conference that featured student research about pika, a watershed education program for fifth graders and the Marsketeers Club, which connects students with NASA scientists.
“We meet every few weeks in the evenings, virtually, for an hour, and what it’s turned into is an opportunity for students to come online together to hear the latest in research and science, related to space-based exploration,” Wolff explained. “Students have an opportunity to ask questions and engage in conversation with each other and with the NASA scientists.”
Wolff’s inspiration to create these initiatives and programs comes from her desire to make the world a better place for the next generation, she explained.
“I care deeply for our community, and the natural world — and that includes the students that are part of that community,” Wolff said. “I want the best for the kids, and I want them to feel empowered to make a positive difference in their community as they get older.”
Katie Gustafson, executive principal at Flagstaff Academy, said Wolff is an asset to the school.
“She is one of the most innovative teachers in the field and her enthusiasm for science education is evidenced every day,” Gustafson said in a statement. “The beauty of her craft is that she is more than willing to share her passion, strategies, and love for science with anyone and everyone.”