OTTAWA – Cathy Dykstra, a teacher at Kortright Hills Public School in Guelph, won the 2019 Energy Educator of the Year prize for her ongoing commitment to environmental education.
Dykstra previously taught at Erin Public School.
For this 27-year teaching veteran, winning the 2019 Energy Educator of the Year prize is a big deal.
“Being recognized for doing something I love to do means the world to me,” Dykstra said.
“Helping my students to thrive as capable and compassionate environmental citizens feels important and gives me hope for our future.”
Going an hour without power, calculating your carbon footprint, and teaching your family how to use less water are just a few of the 16 energy-related challenges that more than 27,000 students from across Canada took part in during the 8th annual Classroom Energy Diet Challenge.
Dykstra appreciates how these educational challenges helped to deepen her students’ understanding of their carbon and water footprint and connected beautifully to other classroom tasks.
Dykstra’s class was one of nearly 1,400 classrooms from across Canada that participated in the challenge this year, one of the highest response rates since the program started in 2011.
Officials say Dykstra’s students and their parents are equally impressed with the teacher’s commitment to equipping Canada’s next generation of consumers with the necessary energy conservation knowledge and skills.
When Sara Judson, a Grade 7 student at Kortright Hills Public School, heard that Dykstra was being considered for the award, she knew her teacher was the best candidate for the prize and drafted her nomination in support.
“In our school community, Mrs. Dykstra has organized our compost and recycling program, waste-free Wednesdays, she runs the Eco Leaders club, organizes attendance at ME to WE and Empowerment Day, and has organized gardening initiatives for the school to increase the number of plants that attract pollinators,” Judson wrote.
“Kortright Hills has achieved Gold EcoSchool Status and is a Bee School—these successes are a direct result of the energy, encouragement, passion, dedication and support of Mrs. Dykstra. And she does it all with a smile.”
Students aren’t the only ones singing Dykstra’s praises. Parents are equally impressed.
“Her positive attitude in teaching about our world and how to better care for it reflects in all of her students,” said parent Charlene King.
“Cathy Dykstra has spread so much love for the Earth – I believe she is the Energy Educator of many past years, this year, and many more to come.”
The Classroom Energy Diet Challenge is a national energy literacy program presented by Canadian Geographic Education and Shell Canada, providing (kindergarten to Grade 12) students across Canada with a fun and engaging competition to help reduce their carbon footprint and become stewards of the environment.
The annual Educator of the Year prize is given out to teachers to celebrate their contributions to improving energy literacy among Canadian students.