A science teacher at Richmond Hill High School is teaching students about the environment by actually putting them in it and it’s gained him statewide recognition.
Bob Hodgdon was recently named teacher of the year by the Environmental Education Alliance of Georgia.
Hodgdon didn’t want to just talk about science in the classroom he wanted to make it real for students.
He started a field science program that gets them out into the environment collecting real data that they send to national and state organizations.
As an educator, Hodgdon wants to make sure his students connect with what they’re learning.
“I feel like having Mr. Hodgdon as a teacher is a good way to be more involved with science and the community in ways that a lot of other science classes and students in other teacher’s classes can’t really experience,” said Emma Booker, a 7th grader at Richmond Hill Middle School.
The drastic change in curriculum came about five years ago. “I just felt like we weren’t doing a whole lot of science in science class we had gotten wrapped up in some testing stuff and that became the priority so I started figuring out how I could work with partners in the community from different wildlife organizations to have the kids involved in actual field science,” said Hodgdon.
Now through a rigorous field science program students research and collect data from local wildlife.
“It has to be something that they feel some kind of ownership for, which is why we try to do stuff in the community even when I do the activities in the classroom I always try to tie it into something real world that’s going on,” said Hodgdon.
Hodgdon said the support he received from the school has made it all possible.
“My philosophy on that is anything we can open up for our students to get engaged in to find out what their niche is in life what they like to do if we can put them out there in real life situations its a better learning experience for them than just being in the classroom,” said Dr. William McGrath, Principal at Richmond Hill Middle School.
Although honored Hodgdon said his award really belongs to the community.
“They’re individual awards but they are not because the program itself requires stakeholders at every level the superintendent, the school board, the parents, the students. If you pull any one of those plugs none of it works,” he said.
Since the inception of the program, Hodgdon and his students have raised nearly 65-thousand dollars for research equipment and they were even able to build a research garden where students can study plant life.