group photo with citationLynn Miller, first grade teacher at St. Martin’s Lutheran School, was recognized today by Governor Larry Hogan with a Governor’s Citation in recognition of her “significant contributions for more than two decades on behalf of the environment” and “in honor of (her) dedicated efforts and success in educating children and encouraging excitement, special activities and a love of learning regarding the importance of the Rain Forest.”

classroom rainforestFor more than 22 years, each May has seen the transformation of her classroom into a paper rain forest.  Vines hung from jute crisscross the ceiling.  Trees with trunks made of cardboard carpet rolls and huge paper leaves blanket each corner, and colorful animals and insects that the first graders created linger on the branches and the vines.

Studying the Amazon rain forest is integrated into each subject in school.  The class graphs temperature and rainfall and as well as tallies proceeds from the rain forest bake sale as part of math class.  As part of Language Arts, students write both fiction and nonfiction:  a research report about an animal living in the rain forest and a creative story about that animal.  The class makes costumes in Art class and learns rain forest themed songs in music.

DSC_7529This concentrated study culminates in two special days at the end of the year.  One is the rain forest bake sale, the proceeds of which go to Earth’s Birthday for protecting land in the Amazon rain forest.  Over the years, first graders at St. Martin’s have saved more than 100 acres of Amazon rain forest.  The second is Rain Forest Day, in which all the other students from school are invited into first grade.  Later in the day, first graders celebrate with family and friends by sharing a special musical program and a sampling of rain forest foods.