Janice Trainer, a third-grade teacher at Etta J. Wilson School in Newark, is the winner of the 2003 Governor’s Marine Science Teacher-of-the-Year Award. The award was established by the University of Delaware Sea Grant College Program, in partnership with the Office of the Governor, to recognize an outstanding Delaware teacher who demonstrates a strong commitment to educating students about marine and coastal resources. Trainer is the second recipient of the prestigious award, which is bestowed annually.
“Every year, I strive to educate and inspire children about the importance of the Delaware Bay estuary through a special marine science program conducted at Wilson,” says Trainer. “Being recognized as the Marine Science Teacher-of-the-Year is evidence that these educational initiatives are supported.”
Governor Ruth Ann Minner and Dr. Carolyn Thoroughgood, dean of the UD Graduate College of Marine Studies, praised Trainer for her “impressive talents and accomplishments in marine and aquatic science education” and “the many ways you engage students in the fascinating world of our oceans and coasts.” They noted, “It is teachers like you — who go beyond the call of duty to help students achieve their full potential — that are helping to make the educational system in Delaware among the best in the nation.”
Trainer has been instrumental in developing the marine science program at Wilson School. She combines hands-on activities, student collaboration, and various readings to teach students about the marine environment. In one activity, students experiment with sand, potting soil, clay soil, and pebbles as they learn how this mixture of materials, which is found in wetlands, acts as a filter and helps keep the waters of the Delaware Bay clean.
The marine science program at Wilson culminates at the end of the school year when Trainer leads a three-day field trip to Cape Henlopen. All third-grade students are invited to participate in this trip, where they learn firsthand about such things as ocean tides, changes in the shoreline, and marine life.
“At Cape Henlopen, the impact of these marine activities on my students is immediate,” says Trainer. “Seeing the looks on their faces as they walk the ocean beach, some for the first time, or if they see a dolphin in the water is proof.”
Several Delaware teachers were nominated for this year’s award. Each nominee was required to submit detailed information regarding their programs, lesson plans, and activities focusing on the marine environment; the impacts of these activities on their students; and additional examples underscoring their commitment to marine education, ranging from course work to community service activities.
Judges from the Governor’s Office and the University of Delaware selected the winner based on four major criteria: creativity, innovation, quality of teaching, and impact on students.
As this year’s award winner, Trainer will receive an all-expense-paid trip to the 2003 National Marine Educators Association conference, the largest assembly of marine and aquatic science educators in the world. This year’s conference will be held July 20–24 in Wilmington, North Carolina.
She also will be recognized at UD’s annual Coast Day festival, on Sunday, October 5, at the Lewes campus, where she will have the opportunity to share project ideas and teaching techniques.
The call for nominations for next year’s award will be issued in January 2004. For more information, please contact the Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service at (302) 645-4346.