Project Learning Tree® (PLT), the environmental education program of the American Forest Foundation, has named Dr. Usha Rajdev, associate professor of Education at Marymount University, a 2012 National PLT Outstanding Educator. She was previously honored as the 2012 Virginia PLT Outstanding Educator and has now been selected as one of five educators from across the U.S. to receive the national honor. The award ceremony will take place at the PLT’s 26th International Coordinators’ Conference in Deadwood, South Dakota, in May.
Dr. Rajdev was honored for her commitment to environmental education, exceptional teaching skills, and the integration of the PLT’s teaching philosophy into Marymount’s Education programs. She has incorporated innovative, environmentally-based science and math teaching methodologies into the curriculum, adapting them to different environments and cultures.
In addition to preparing students to teach in U.S. schools, Dr. Rajdev has led two groups of graduate and undergraduate Education students to Porbandar, India, where they shared hands-on learning methods with Bachelor of Education candidates at Dr. Virambhai R. Godhaniya College and with children at two nearby schools. She pointed out, “In India, teaching is done more in a lecture format. So our students really brought a new approach to the Indian education students.” The Marymount students employed games and activities that took children outdoors to learn about the environment and to use the environment as tools in their instruction. The lessons were a success with the children, their families, and the Indian teaching candidates, all of whom were excited and invigorated by this new approach to learning.
When notified of the national recognition, Dr. Rajdev stated, "I attribute my success to my students' responsiveness to interactive teaching and learning. I dedicate this award to all
She also thanked the Virginia PLT coordinator, Lisa Deaton, for her support. Dr. Rajdev explained, “Using PLT materials and methods, our student teachers have learned how to engage their pupils in hands-on learning that also increases environmental awareness and a desire to be stewards of the earth’s resources.”
In addition to being honored at the national conference in May, Dr. Rajdev is also invited to participate in the World Forestry Center’s International Institute being held in Portland, Oregon, this summer.