BY LEANN DILBECK –
Kathy Rusert, an Acorn High School Teacher, was named a “Trailblazing Teacher” this past spring by the Center for Green Schools at the US Green Building Council. The prestige of this national honor was given to Kathy and she was only one out of ten teachers honored with this award for her creativity in bringing environmental learning to her students.
Along with the award, Kathy received a cash award, resources from the Center for Green Schools, free access to the Green Classroom Certificate Program (www.centerforgreenschools/greenclassroom), and a place on The Green Schools online map of leading teachers.
Rusert is no stranger to awards, having also been recognized for numerous state and national awards, including the Project Learning Tree (PLT) as a National Outstanding Educator in 2012, Walmart Teacher of the Year in 2005, and Outstanding Arkansas PLT Teacher of the Year in 2011.
Rusert teaches science to students in grades 7 and 8, science labs for students in grades 5 and 6, and remedial reading. A public school teacher for almost 25 years, she is also the faculty contact for environmental activities and supports environmental education for students of all grades. Always looking for creative ways to extend her students’ learning beyond the classroom, she works hard to raise money for field trips and was successful in obtaining grants and volunteers to help create an outdoor classroom to promote hands-on learning. This 15-acre area provides students with opportunities for research, exploration, and environmental stewardship, and Rusert’s students use it to teach PLT activities to younger students.
Rusert believes strongly in interdisciplinary, hands-on education, as well as opportunities for students to teach others. To pass this on to the next generation, she teaches a Methods of Teaching Science for Southern Arkansas University that introduces future teachers to practical teaching tools, such PLT, that they can easily use in the classroom.