Principals Visit Island in Chesapeake Bay

Principals Visit Island in Chesapeake Bay

Environmental lessons will be incorporated in classroom teaching.

Participants of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s environmental immersion class at Port Isobel in the Chesapeake Bay included 24 principals from Fairfax County.

Participants of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s environmental immersion class at Port Isobel in the Chesapeake Bay included 24 principals from Fairfax County. Photo Courtesy of Laura Hickey.

From July 30 to Aug. 1, 24 principals from elementary and middle schools in Fairfax County embarked on a journey to Port Isobel, located near the island of Tangier Island in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay.

The trip was sponsored by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and sought to guide teachers on how to best teach environmental issues back in the classroom.

“I thoroughly enjoyed this leadership experience with principals from FCPS and I am thankful to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) for sponsoring this trip,” said Lori Cleveland, principal of Greenbriar West Elementary School. “We were immersed in learning about the Chesapeake Bay and the lifestyle of the residents of Tangier Island during our three day adventure.”

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Port Isobel Education Center is located east of Tangier Island, which is sinking due to rising sea levels.

“Tangier Island was an experience I will never forget – it was sad to learn about how the environmental conditions are impacting the island which is sinking,” Cleveland said. “With knowledge gained, I plan to use my leadership to engage my school community and become more involved in environmental stewardship projects to support FCPS’ Get2Green goals by focusing our recycling efforts and outdoor learning space to engage students through environmental learning activities.”

Laura Hickey, senior director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA, said the best part of the workshop was engaging with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Fairfax County principals. She enjoyed scraping for crabs, shrimp and pike fish, and learning about the history of Tangier Island.

“The Chesapeake Bay is an unbelievable resource and it’s at risk from pollution, runoff, and sea level rise. We learned about the dangers to the Bay, and also how we might work together at schools to both educate our young students and implement solutions,” Hickey said.

According to Hickey, over 65 schools in Fairfax County participate in the Eco-Schools USA program, run by the National Wildlife Federation. Principals at the workshop learned how they can help make their school greener.

“All in all, it was a wonderful experience with a lot of takeaways, including how grateful I am to CBF for inviting me to participate, and how I look forward to working with even more schools within Fairfax County in the near future,” Hickey said.

Amy Goodloe, principal of Oak Hill Elementary School, said the trip helped her to increase her knowledge of enhancing education on environmental issues at her school.

“The trip to Port Isobel was fantastic. I learned the importance of examining both the natural and social systems of the environment around us, specifically in the context of the Chesapeake Bay and Tangier Island,” she said. “The best part of the trip was learning about how the Chesapeake Bay waterman work not only to make their living on the Bay, but also to preserve the natural ecosystem there. This was done through the experience of fishing for crabs as well as looking at the environment in which they live.”

Goodloe and other principals said they are looking forward to integrating lessons from the trip into lessons at their schools.