DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Five Rivers MetroParks recognized three area teachers with its 2020 “OUTstanding Teacher Award,” given to those who use the natural world as a classroom and try to incorporate incorporate nature-based opportunities into their curriculum.

“Nature is a huge asset for physical and mental wellness, especially for teachers and students navigating these unprecedented times,” said MetroParks educator Erin Rowekamp. “The teachers we’ve recognized with OUTstanding Teacher Awards have done an incredible job during their careers connecting children with the outdoors.”

The 2020 OUTstanding Teachers are:

  • Patricia Lewis — Rising Star — A second grade teacher at Roosevelt Elementary in downtown Dayton. She and her students created the “Roosevelt Garden,” which includes raised beds for flowers, vegetables, and a grapevine and fruit tree
  • Suzanne Mitolo — Leader — An art teacher at Centerville Primary Village South. She was instrumental in creating and maintaining the school’s multi-sensory garden, where she encourages her students to grow their art skills through use of nature journals
  • Brian Brogan — Lifetime Achievement — A teacher at The Antioch School in Yellow Springs. He was instrumental in creating several designated outdoor spaces that are utilized for teaching and for students to gather to freely explore the natural world around them

In a typical year, the OUTstanding Teacher Awards are presented February, but the event was canceled due to the ongoing pandemic. This year, the awards were given during a virtual ceremony in April.