Maura Lyons, a science teacher at Applewild School in Fitchburg, received the Nashua River Watershed Association Environmental Education Award for 2014.
Lyons was honored at the recent NRWA Annual Meeting in Devens.
The West Townsend resident received the award “for her dedication, passion and creativity in developing sustainability curriculum and inspiring colleagues, parents and students at Applewild School to become active environmental stewards.”
Lyons is in her 11th year of teaching science at Applewild and is chair of the Science Department. Prior to that, she worked for five years at Mount Wachusett Community College as director of the Environmental Pollution Control Program and two years at Pembroke Academy in Suncook, N.H.
She has a bachelor’s degree in natural resource studies from UMass Amherst and a master’s from Tufts University with a focus on curriculum development.
At Applewild, she teaches fourth and fifth grades and has created a curriculum that gives students a real-life look at the natural world around them. For several years, her students have taken part in the River Classroom program run by NRWA.
“The NRWA views environmental education as critically important,” said Elizabeth Ainsley Campbell, executive director of the Nashua River Watershed Association, “and it is tremendously gratifying to work with a teacher as talented and passionate as Maura Lyons. The role Maura is playing at Applewild School is outstanding, and we know she is making a difference in the lives of many youth. We are proud to give her our Environmental Education Award for 2014.”
In her acceptance speech, Lyons honored Marion Stoddart, founding director of the NRWA, as her mentor and role model.
“It is because of Marion Stoddart’s vision, her commitment and inspirational success story that I am standing here tonight … I have embedded the story of one so-called ‘ordinary’ woman’s true grit and determination in cleaning up a river into my curriculum. Marion’s internationally recognized ecological success story contains so many valuable lessons for us all, but especially for our young ones.”
Lyons is herself a mentor and inspiration to other teachers at Applewild, some of whom attended the event.
One of her continuing projects at the school is her stewardship of the school vegetable garden. Students learn about soil science and crop propagation while tending the garden crops, much of which are used in creating the school’s family-style lunches.
Speaking further about her own teaching she said, “When you bring real-world applications into your classroom, you utilize a powerful tool that allows you to not only convey information, but to inspire your students as well.”