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Environmental Education Award Presented to New Haven Teacher

Release Date: 06/01/2012
Contact Information: EPA Public Affairs, (617) 918-1010

Common Ground High School is a charter school in New Haven, Conn. founded in 1998 with ecology as its organizing theme. Liz Cox arrived at the school in 1999 as an English teacher and quickly demonstrated that the local environment can be a powerful context for challenging, authentic, meaningful learning.

Ms. Cox is one of only 20 teachers nationwide who has been selected to receive this prestigious Presidential award. Along with the award recognition, Ms. Cox is receiving $2,000 to advance her professional development in environmental education. To further support the award winning teachers, each teacher’s school will also receive a $2,000 award to fund environmental education activities and programs that support the teacher.

Since 1999, Ms. Cox has been an integral member of the Common Ground charter school's teaching staff and has helped develop environmentally-themed courses which are at the heart of school’s curriculum. She has brought exceptional knowledge and passion to issues including food security, food banks, urban farms – and used these topics to help her students understand the many interconnected issues surrounding our environment and their lives.

Ms. Cox’s courses have connected the places and issues that are most relevant to low-income city kids of color. At the same time, Ms. Cox is adept at mixing place-based, hands-on learning with the highest academic standards. Every day, her classroom work proves that urban environmental education can be as rigorous as anything taught in any school in the country. Her courses have become core parts of the school’s curriculum. Ms. Cox's work has also created dramatic student achievement educational results. Over the last several years, Ms. Cox has taken on increasingly important roles at the Common Ground charter school, including Dean of Student Affairs and now as School Director.

“EPA is very pleased to present this exceptional teacher with recognition for her decades of hard work and innovation in helping young people gain the skills and knowledge to make a lasting difference in their lives and community,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office.

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