What an honor to be considered for this prestigious award! The application process was rigorous and served as an excellent opportunity for me to reflect on my teaching practices, which sometimes involve less traditional pedagogy. I am passionate about conveying to my students that they are part of a great big world – and that it begins in their own backyards. This award tells me it’s okay to have students dig in the dirt and look under rocks!
Vivian Bowles began teaching at Kit Carson Elementary School 29 years ago in a self-contained primary classroom where she helped her seven and eight-year-old students make connections between themselves, their communities, and the natural world. In 2003, she began teaching fourth grade science, also encouraging them to start thinking like scientists.
The 2004–2006 Appalachian Math and Science Partnership Summer Institutes provided through the National Science Foundation helped shape Vivian’s pedagogy. She plans units of study based on the verbiage of the standards; provides opportunities for students to work as scientists and engineers; and integrates life, earth, and physical sciences using the environment as a unifying theme.
Her students’ social, emotional, and academic gains in the classroom, as well as their participation in the Kentucky Green and Healthy Schools initiative, have led Vivian to share her research and experiences with fellow educators through workshops, conferences, and publications. She currently serves on the Kentucky Environmental Literacy Plan Implementation Advisory Team, which develops and promotes environmental applications across the curriculum.
Vivian holds a B.A. in Social Work, and teaching certifications for high school psychology and elementary education, from Eastern Kentucky University. She is a National Board Certified Middle Childhood Generalist.