Misha Smith, a sixth grade teacher at Hawthorne Elementary in Boise, earned two recognitions for her work as an environmental science and geography teacher.
Smith’s classroom instruction earned her the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators and commendation as a member of the Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship Cohort.
“I am so proud to represent Idaho and the Northwest Region 10 with this award,” Smith said of the PIAEE award. “I’m excited to use the award money to further my professional development in the area of environmental education.”
Associated money awarded to her school will go towards “supporting environmental education projects and field trips.”
The 1990 National Environmental Education Act created the PIAEE award to celebrate and support classroom projects that elevate environmental science instruction that activate creative thinking through materials outside of textbook learning.
The Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship, administered through a National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions partnership, recognizes educators committed to authentic geographic education. As part of the honor, 2023 Fellows will embark on global expeditions to exotic places like the Galápagos Islands and Australia’s Wild Northwest Kimberley region.
Smith chose Patagonia in order to animate the sixth grade social studies curriculum and connect students with the region’s geography, culture, climate and ecosystems.
The educator will voyage around the southern tip of South America where she will be mentored by National Geographic photographers and Lindblad Expedition naturalists on board expedition vessels. Through this sabbatical, Smith also aims to develop professional communities across Idaho via the Idaho Environmental Education Association.
“Ultimately, I hope to help my students and others to understand the interconnectedness of humans and nature and to foster an explorer mindset.”