Monday, March 1, 2021

Jean Pelezo, A Teacher in Cumberland County, Completes Her Environmental Education Certification

Jean Pelezo, a 5th-grade science and social studies teacher in Cumberland County recently completed her Environmental Education Certification. 

Jean has been an educator for 32 years teaching 2nd through 6th grades. She has established and taught K-5 science labs in Texas and North Carolina and has provided professional development at the school and district level, as well as at state and national conferences. Her passions include anything related to science and the outdoors, as well as science and art integration.

Jean says her favorite part of the certification program was learning in the field with professionals. “I moved to NC 13 years ago, so this program was a great way to learn and experience North Carolina in-depth and find its many "hidden" treasures. I also enjoyed meeting people and educators with the same passion for outdoor learning!”

When asked which experience stood out for her, Jean says all the experiences were awesome but the one that stands out for her was Explore NC offered by UNC Institute for the Environment. “Explore NC took me to various locations around the state and helped me to experience the bigger picture of how North Carolina's ecosystems work separately but together. The "being there" experience was a huge component of understanding these environments, and that is what I desire to pass on to my students!”

For her community partnership project, Jean created a pollination garden on the school grounds which has a "model" garden for families and the community. Jean’s project also included a pollination party, a family night event, that invited families to come and participate in a variety of hands-on activities related to pollinators and their importance for the environment.

Jeans says the certification helped her teaching career in two ways. “First, it helped me provide richer and deeper environmental education and life science content to my students. I can apply "real-world, local" examples and experiences to my students. The second teaching aspect is that I can share these resources and experiences with my colleagues. If I can teach and share with them these resources, they, in turn, can reach those students that I wouldn't have reached otherwise.”

When asked if the program changed her views of environmental issues, Jean says, “I was born and raised in the desert southwest. It was not until I moved to NC and participated in this program that I grasped the "infinite" vastness of all the land water systems and how they directly impact our ocean. I am more cognizant and aware of the importance of recycling, especially plastics, as well as the need to keep pollutants and pollution out of our streets and waterways.”

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