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Meet the Fellows 2016: Emily Chandler

By Heather Flanagan
April 8, 2016

The BOP-CCERS Fellowship at Pace University is a two-year professional development and training program designed to give teachers the knowledge and tools to engage their students in hands-on restoration science in New York Harbor.  This is our second year of the program, and the first year in which we have two cohorts overlapping. The program is structured so that second year fellows serve as mentors to the first.  

The first cohort of 17 middle school math and science teachers, who began in February 2015, are now finishing up their implementation year, during which they have taught a spiraling BOP curriculum and have taken their students on at least four monitoring expeditions. The second cohort of 24 teachers from 14 schools are currently in their foundations semester, in which they learn from guest experts and receive four days of hands-on field training from staff scientists. 

Last fall we featured some BOP-CCERS Cohort One teachers and now it’s Cohort Two teachers’ turn to shine!  Join us this month as we get to know more of the NYC DOE middle school teachers who are bringing hands-on restoration science to classrooms from the Bronx to Brooklyn. Next up: Emily Chandler, P.S. 371K, Brooklyn

Emily Chandler

Two of Emily’s students measuring oysters with calipers.

Tell us about…

…your school!

“My school is 371K, but we are located in an offsite with just three teachers located in Telecommunications high school. We are a very small, tight-knit group with 30 students spread amongst the three teachers and one guidance counselor. We are a great location for restoration because the staff has always been very supportive of unorthodox teaching methods. Even though we’ll take time out of the school day to visit our restoration station, it is understood that our kids are having authentic learning experiences and they are applauded for whatever methods work in teaching them.”

…your students!

“I teach in a 12:1:1 setting for students with emotional disabilities…even though age-wise these kids are considered standard-assessment high school students…learning disabilities and emotional disturbance mean their reading and math levels range from 2nd-7th grade. I love the challenge of differentiating the curriculum for each student and making their learning meaningful for them. These students have been diagnosed with ADHD, OCD, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, or are generally at-risk of being being over age and under-credited. My job is to bring the learning to the kids on their level and work with them in environmental science to help them see the value in ecology. As a class we have visited our restoration station twice already, and I was thrilled with how all of our students wanted to be involved. Attendance was very high on the days we went to measure our oysters, and the kids really seemed to enjoy collecting field data and doing ‘real’ science instead of just reading a textbook.”


“I have been teaching in a district 75 special education classroom for students with emotional disturbance for 10 years, and I love the challenge of motivating at-risk students. Originally, I heard about BOP from their collection of oyster shells from restaurants, and found out about their restoration stations, and knew it would be a perfectly authentic way to teach my environmental science students without relying merely on a textbook. It’s very exciting for staff and students to be real scientists conducting field research and helping the local environment…and I find that it’s motivating for students who don’t have the best track record in a ‘normal’ classroom environment.”

What is the nearest body of water to your school?  Where would you like to site your restoration station?

“Our first restoration station was on the Bay Ridge pier close to Owl Head’s Park, within walking distance to our school. Sadly, the restoration station was absconded with, so we are now located cozily in Red Hook behind the Ikea.”

What’s something you’re proud of in your teaching, your school, or your students?

“The first time I took my students to the restoration station, I was nervous about corralling kids and about whether we’d have decent attendance for the trip. Attendance is the biggest concern with my students, who don’t always buy in to their schooling. I was so proud and elated when the attendance for the trip was 100%; and I knew that BOP was going to be a crucial tool for drawing students interest in my environmental science class.”

Anything else you’d like to share?

“We are in the middle of our Eco-City project where students take up the challenge of being urban developers and create models of cities that implement environmental inventions that decrease carbon footprints and have a positive ecological impact. The students have watched the documentary “Future Earth” and have done research on current methods of cities ‘going green.’  They’ll be using a mountain of recyclable materials, art supplies, and their ingenuity to create models of their city with a minimum of 6 inventions that will help alleviate the harm cities have on the planet.”

We’re so glad to have Emily aboard!  Click here to get to know the rest of Cohort Two.

Interested in reading more about BOP-CCERS and how we’re bringing hands-on restoration science to classrooms all over the city?  Sign up for our newsletter and click here to read all BOP-CCERS posts!