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May 11, 2011

The HSUS Names Oregon Teacher 2011 National Kind Teacher

The Humane Society of the United States is proud to announce that Marcy Wells of Funny Farm Early Learning Center in Portland, Ore. is the recipient of the 30th annual National Kind Teacher Award. The award recognizes a teacher who consistently incorporates the teaching of kindness and respect for animals into the curriculum.

"Ms. Wells' creative teaching style brings humane education to life in the classroom," said Heidi O'Brien, director of student outreach for The HSUS. "We applaud her for teaching young people empathy for not only the animals they know, but for animals of the world and the issues affecting them."

Wells, who has been incorporating humane education at her preschool for eight years, specifically developed and led humane-themed pre-K lessons to teach about topics such as pet adoption and issues faced by endangered species, including the pet trade, poaching, and loss of habitat. Never believing preschoolers are too young to grasp important concepts, her lessons teach respect for a wide variety of animals – from pets to wildlife to farm animals – and are used to enhance many developmental and academic skills for young children.  For example, students used their sense of smell to try to identify each other like Africa's elephants and solutions to make bamboo grow faster for the Giant Panda were dreamed up in their science center.

Humane lessons led by Wells include:

  • Developing a theme-based summer program, "Funny Farm Gone Wild" to teach preschool students about the plight of many endangered animals in which an Eco Ranger station is set up in the classroom, complete with a medical center, maps, walkie-talkies, and rescue equipment. Each week, a rescue call comes through the walkie-talkies about a different animal in need, from pandas whose bamboo habitat is being cut down to captured tigers who are victims of the pet trade.
  • Transforming one of her classroom learning centers into an animal shelter with pretend cats, dogs, lizards, frogs, and rabbits, and inviting her preschoolers to care for the animals and then adopt them at the end of the curricular unit.
  • Creating a classroom farmer's market where the turkeys are well taken care of and invited to Thanksgiving dinner rather than becoming dinner.
  • Initiating outreach opportunities that tap into the kids' eagerness to help, such as her "Chores for Roars" fundraising campaign that encourages little ones to perform chores at home to benefit animal welfare organizations.
  • Providing opportunities for parent involvement in humane learning, such as helping their child complete weekly game-like challenges that include going on a neighborhood safari to identify wild species or creating a backyard habitat.   

"We're always looking for ways to outdo ourselves, make the lessons more original, more fun, and engaging for young learners," said Wells. "Animals are a natural love interest for this age group and provide a fantastic opportunity to tap into their superhero fantasies and willingness to help, while developing their abilities for compassion, empathy, and respect for the world and the species that live in it."

As the winner of the National Kind Teacher Award, Wells received a plaque, a collection of humane education materials for the classroom, a scholarship for Humane Society University's Certified Humane Education Specialist program and a signed copy of "The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them" by HSUS President & CEO Wayne Pacelle.

To read more about Wells or to nominate a teacher for the 2012 National Kind Teacher Award, visit humanesociety.org.

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Follow The HSUS on Twitter. See our work for animals on your iPhone by searching "HumaneTV" in the App Store.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the Web at humanesociety.org. 

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