SUNY New Paltz alumnae teach climate change to regional education leaders

The Hudson Valley Writing Project at SUNY New Paltz invited educators to explore climate change and the impact it has on vulnerable populations, both locally and globally during a recent seminar on campus, “Teaching Climate Change and Supporting Young Changemakers.”

The program was co-sponsored by the Mid-Hudson Teacher Center and led by alumnae and Writing Project facilitators Jacqueline Hesse ’04 (English) ’08g (Secondary Education: English) and Christine McCartney ’07g (Secondary Education: English).

“We wanted to help other educators establish ways of creating entry points for their students into community-based work related to global warming,” said McCartney. “This workshop did just that.”

Co-founders of Global to Local Jacqueline Hesse ’04 ’08g and Christine McCartney ’07g

Hesse and McCartney teach English Language Arts at Newburgh Free Academy P-TECH and have completed a certificate program in Climate Change and Public Health from Yale University. They are the co-founders of Global to Local, a service learning program that provides students opportunities to participate in meaningful volunteer projects in foreign countries, see the world in new ways and envision themselves as changemakers in it.

“This workshop helped us think more deeply about the work we do with our students and the volunteer partnerships that we have established and maintained over the years,” said Hesse. “We walked away feeling inspired and refreshed.”

The five-day program provided educators in grades 5-12 with the information, space and support necessary to plan and facilitate student-led projects that invite youth to engage with community members and organizations to address need. Participants also met with a panel of experts from local environmental and government organizations that Hesse and McCartney hope can open doors for collaborative partnerships. All of the strategies presented were aligned with the Next Generation Learning Standards for grades 7-12.

For current student and future educator Rachel DeSimone ’20 (Adolescent Education: English), the program offered a unique opportunity to explore climate change as an environmental and social justice issue while also learning strategies to incorporate climate change into her future curriculum.

“I believe climate change is an issue that should be at the forefront of all of our minds,” said DeSimone. “It is time to change the conversation to what we can actually start doing to adapt and mitigate the environmental and social issues at hand.”

About the Hudson Valley Writing Project

The Hudson Valley Writing Project at SUNY New Paltz is a professional development organization whose purpose is to improve writing instruction and to promote literacy development in all disciplines and at all levels of education, from early childhood to college. Founded in 2001, the Writing Project has provided programs for nearly 4,000 teachers and young writers in the Hudson Valley region, respecting teachers’ knowledge, expertise and leadership.