Alumni News

Karen Kaczman (Middle Grades Lateral Entry ’08) selected to attend Yellowstone Ecology Institute

Karen Kaczman, who earned her Middle Grades Licensure from the School of Education in 2008, has been selected by the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences to attend its Educators of Excellence Yellowstone Ecology Institute in June 2009. She will travel to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho to learn about wildlife, geology and environmental issues in the park and in North Carolina.

In previous years, groups traveling to Yellowstone have participated in day hikes, meetings with park rangers and wildlife observations. The students of the 12 selected participants are invited to submit questions in advance about the wildlife and geology of Yellowstone, which are answered while the teachers are on the trip.

Kaczman is a sixth-grade science and study skills teacher at North Chatham School in Chatham County, N.C. She was recognized recently by Northwest AHEC of Wake Forest University for her support of one of her students, Nolan Brown, in his science fair project titled “Oil Spill: What Materials Can Remove Oil from Water?” The project placed first in the Earth Sciences Division of the regional science fair and has advanced to the state level of competition.

In the classroom, Kaczman has collaborated with social studies teacher Cameron Vernon this year to teach a sustainability unit from the science and social studies perspectives. In an effort to inspire students to identify a passion and act on it, Kaczman and Vernon invited community members and UNC students to share their environmental passions with the students and then mentor the students on their projects.

“I was overwhelmed by the generous sharing of people within the community-at-large and students from UNC.  My students were thrilled with the opportunity to share with them,” says Kaczman.

Other activities pursued by Kaczman’s students this year include planting an organic garden, building a compost bin and visiting a landfill.

Beth McCullough, public information officer for Chatham County Schools, recently interviewed Kaczman about her teaching. The interview is available as a podcast in related links.