City educator wins national environmental teaching award

Rosedale School teacher Deborah Lumley. Submitted Photo

Troy Shantz

A Sarnia teacher has won a national award for her ongoing commitment to environmental education.

Deborah Lumley was recently named the 2020 ‘Energy Educator of the Year’ with help from her Grade 5/6 class at Rosedale School.

The prize is one of two given annually to a primary and secondary educator as part an award-winning program called the Classroom Energy Diet Challenge (CEDC).

“I really have a love for the environment and nature and species,” Lumley told The Journal. “My goal is to integrate those topics and ideas and issues into all of our curriculum.”

Lumley and her Rosedale students won the elementary division in a contest featuring 40,000 Canadian students from 1,400 classrooms competing in energy-related challenges.

The 16 challenges included things like going an hour without power, calculating your carbon footprint, and working with your household to use less water.

Because of COVID-19, organizers allowed students and teachers to participate virtually this year.

Lumley and her students overcame real obstacles to complete the challenges in creative ways, said Michelle Chaput, director of education at Canadian Geographic Education.

“She is a local energy hero and I’m thrilled that she is getting national recognition for her trailblazing efforts,” she said.

Lumley said her students tackle global issues, like wildlife conservation or plastic waste, then narrow the focus to the Sarnia community and what can be done here.

“Each person has to take charge and take action and do something if we’re going to make any changes in the world,” she said.

“I think it’s in how you present it. I don’t want them to feel anxious, but I want them to understand there are little things they can do to take action.”

Lumley and her classes are no stranger to environmental awards. They were nominated for Sarnia’s ‘Greenest Classroom’ this year, an award her class has won twice in four years.

And her students have more than $1,000 in award winnings this year, money added to a school fund for future outdoor classrooms, Lumley said.

Her impact extends beyond the school as well.

“We’ve made a lot of changes around the house, including watching our water and electricity consumption, and using reusable bags and food storage containers,” said Monica Brown, a parent of one of Lumley’s students.

“This is really all thanks to Ms. Lumley. Her enthusiasm and commitment to these initiatives is helping us do our part to protect the environment.”

CEDC is a national program presented by Canadian Geographic Education with support from Shell Canada.