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Earth Day 2020 Provokes Thoughts of Change at Gate City

Even though Earth Day is taking place indoors this year, due to the global lockdown, that didn’t stop this teacher from doing her part to advance the cause and shine a light on the importance of taking care of our planet. 
Brittany McFadden, eighth-grade science and social studies teacher at Gate City Charter Academy, wanted to make sure that her students did something to celebrate Earth Day 2020. While she did not advise anyone to go outside due to the current conditions and personal preference, she did, however, have students create mini posters answering the following questions: 
1) My one wish for the Earth would be...
2) What is harming our Earth? List at least two things.
3) What can I personally do to help? List at least four things.
Earth Day student wishes

Teaching scholars about things that harm the earth and what they can do to help is essential, according to McFadden, because it serves as a conscious reminder of how fragile our planet is and how important it is for us to protect it. “I believe it provokes reflection from all and causes us to ask ourselves, ‘What am I doing personally to positively or negatively contribute to the healthiness of our environment?’” she shared.
Earth Day is an annual event celebrated around the world on April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection. First celebrated in 1970, it now includes events coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network in over 190 countries. This year marked the 50th anniversary of the holiday!
“It's important for us to celebrate Earth Day at Gate City to continue promoting environmental awareness and to remind us that we can protect the earth in our everyday lives,” McFadden shared. “Additionally, students learn about stewardship as we engage with several units through the year.”

student made Earth Day poster

 Below are examples of what students shared in their assignments:
“Some things that are harming the earth include deforestation and pollution.” Amaya Calloway, eighth-grade student at Gate City.
“Four things I can do is not litter because it can harm animals. Don’t smoke to prevent the damage of the atmosphere and stop global warming. Another thing I can do is to take care of plant life and not allow them to get hurt or damaged because they are the number one thing humans need to survive. I can also recycle because plastic can go to the proper location so it can be reused.” Zackary Singletary, eighth-grade student at Gate City.
“I could plant trees and plants to help with global warming so they can get the carbon dioxide.” Micah Davis, eighth-grade student at Gate City.
Aside from this activity, there are several ways that McFadden has been staying connected with her students during remote learning. She has participated in live sessions through Google Meet, which gives students a sense of normalcy because they get to see her face and interact with their fellow classmates. In addition to personalized emails and notes, she also picks up the phone to call and check-in with her students and their families. 
Gate City student showing their poster

 During this time of remote learning, educators are having to be innovative, and McFadden shared what she has learned from this experience, “This time has helped me learn new and creative ways to engage students,” she said. “I think it's easier in the classroom because you can control the narrative to a certain degree. However, with remote learning, there are more unknowns and uncertainties. Learning to create buy-in for students has been my biggest take away thus far.”
Natasha Robertson, principal at Gate City, shared what she most proud of her staff for during these unprecedented times. “I am so proud of the Gate City Staffs’ efforts, but see this consistent level of care, concern, and high expectations throughout our entire staff.”
Way to go!