Education

Chesapeake bay outward bound announces inaugural winners of the blue heron educator

Chesapeake Bay Outward Bound School, a non-profit educational organization that serves people of all ages and backgrounds through active learning expeditions that inspire character development, self-discovery, and service, recently announced the 2021 recipients of their inaugural Blue Heron Educator Award.

Chesapeake Bay Outward Bound School, a non-profit educational organization that serves people of all ages and backgrounds through active learning expeditions that inspire character development, self-discovery, and service, recently announced the 2021 recipients of their inaugural Blue Heron Educator Award.

“With the COVID-19 pandemic causing most schools to pivot to virtual learning, educators around the country—including those in the DMV area—were forced to reinvent the way they connected with their students, We’re educators ourselves, so we’ve seen how hard these last two years have been. We wanted to do something to recognize the exceptional teachers who, despite all the obstacles, strived and succeeded to help their students learn and thrive.”

said Kelly Reynolds, Instructional Designer at Chesapeake Bay Outward Bound School.

According to a study from Horace Mann Voice of the Educator Study, 97% of primary and secondary educators reported seeing some learning loss in their students over the past year when compared with children in previous years.

Chesapeake, 57% of those educators estimated their students are behind by more than three months in their social-emotional progress.

“We know the importance of quality social-emotional learning and strong character development, especially in challenging times, That’s why we created The Blue Heron Educator Award— to honor local teachers who went above and beyond to embody the characteristics of agility, integrity, compassion, and perseverance—and whose dedication inspired those same traits in their students, both in and out of the classroom.”

continued Reynolds.

According to North American Native tradition, the Blue Heron brings messages of self-determination and self-reliance.

An indigenous species to the Chesapeake Region, they represent an ability to progress and evolve, the ideas of tranquility and stillness, and most of all, determination.

In the award’s inaugural year, 24 outstanding teachers were nominated by their peers, as well as administrators.

A selection committee of nine from Outward Bound ultimately awarded the top honors to two area educators: Elizabeth Bilbao, Science Teacher at The Lab School of Washington, and Richard Bianchi, Core Construction, Carpentry, and Auto Lead Teacher at Mergenthaler High School (Baltimore, MD).

Merganthaler High School, where Mr. Bianchi teaches, has been working with CBOBS for the last five years, mostly with the support of Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE).

From 2018-2020 BGE supplied a multi-year grant for Chesapeake Bay Outward Bound School which allowed 321 Mervo students and teachers to experience social emotional learning, including the virtual programs that Mr. Bianchi’s class participated in during the pandemic.

“I am very honored and extremely appreciative of the fact that my students and I were noticed and recognized, I take great pride in being a part of Outward Bound, and certainly hope to continue to be an asset to the program and to provide enthusiastic young men and women, who show such interest and are so incredibly motivated.”

said Mr. Bianchi.

When Ms. Bilbao learned of her award, she was “honored and happily surprised. The past year greatly impacted my students and the way that we teach. We strive to present an experiential learning process, and that was pretty tricky over Zoom. This was particularly impactful, as science has always been a hands-on class. We worked hard to expand our curriculum to allow the kids to participate in as many aspects of the experiments as they could at home. It was important to continue to reach kids who had different learning styles and unique strengths and needs.” She also credits her students for “their compassion and willingness to cooperate and to include their peers.”

She said,
Ms. Katherine Douglas, Interim Head of Intermediate at the Lab School Washington where Ms. Bilbao teaches, acknowledged that the award was well deserved. Being recognized as a Blue Heron Educator affirms not only the level of expertise and care that Liz brings to her student but also our school’s commitment to providing a joyful and engaging program that meets kids where they are and takes them as far as they can go.
While the 2021-2022 school year has brought more normalcy back to the classroom, Reynolds recognizes that the characteristics of agility, integrity, compassion and perseverance won’t be any less critical.

“In the years ahead, Chesapeake Bay Outward Bound School hopes to recognize more amazing teachers, and partner with more schools across the DC and Baltimore areas to help their students discover their own strength and resilience for whatever lies ahead.”

As the 2021-2022 school year comes to a close, please think about the educators in your lives and consider nominating them for this year’s Blue Heron Educator Award.

About Chesapeake Bay Outward Bound School

Chesapeake Outward Bound, founded in 1941 by educator Kurt Hahn, is a non-profit educational organization that serves people of all ages and backgrounds through challenging learning expeditions that focus on character development, leadership and service.
Outward Bound helps individuals and teams discover strength of character and an aptitude for leadership needed to serve others in their community and care for the world around them.
Chesapeake Bay Outward Bound delivers programs for students and educators throughout the Baltimore and Washington DC areas.
This article was shared with Prittle Prattle News as a Press Release.
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