An Akron teacher is the winner of a national award from the Garden Club of America.
Mary Patient “Pat” Penchalk, a fifth-grade teacher at Leggett Community Learning Center, on Monday was awarded the prestigious Elizabeth Abernathy Hull Award for outstanding achievement in furthering the environmental education of children.
Penchalk, nominated for the award by the Akron Garden Club, is one of seven recipients of the 2013 award.
“With her many years of teaching experience and personal interest in science and the environment, Pat is giving inner-city children a rare opportunity to learn about nature and explore an outdoor world largely unknown to them,” the Akron group said in citing Penchalk’s achievements.
The group noted her collaboration with the Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center in Boston Township to create two specialized science lessons for fourth- through eighth-grade students.
In 2011, Penchalk helped design the curriculum for Seeds of Learning, A School of Farm and Food that looked at sustainable farming and food citizenry.
It was a four-day, three-night program at the environmental education center that involved Hale Farm & Village in Bath Township and Countryside Conservancy farms in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
In 2012, Penchalk assisted in developing a CVEEC residential program on ornithology that features a research component for students to collect data on bird diversity in Akron urban areas.
“Studies have shown that the best teaching and learning happens when students engage in authentic data collection, interpretation and analysis and when learning is hands-on and experimental,” said Stacey Heffernan, director of the education center.
“Pat is always striving to offer students these opportunities, particularly children who are not able to explore parks or the natural world regularly. This enriches their lives, as well as their capacities for and interest in learning,” she said.
Penchalk, who lives in Akron, has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Akron.
She has been teaching at Leggett for 15 years. She taught preschool for 17 years prior to teaching fifth grade.
The prize comes with a $1,000 award.
Elaine Evans, founder of Let’s Grow Akron, won the award in 2003.
Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or email@example.com.