FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Ten SDP Teachers Partner with Penn to Integrate Climate Literacy Into High School Classrooms

Beginning this June, the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities will work with local teachers and students to research, document, and share on-the-ground stories of how climate change impacts Philadelphians’ lives.


June 6, 2022

Philadelphia, PA--   The Penn Program in Environmental Humanities (PPEH) at the University of Pennsylvania is delighted to welcome ten astonishingly talented high school teachers from schools across the Philadelphia School District as My Climate Story climate literacy champions. My Climate Story is a public climate research and literacy program that addresses the global climate emergency with hands-on workshops, place-based and collaborative curriculum building, experiential learning, multimedia storytelling, and both in-person and digital networking through the project’s “storybank,” a resource hub for climate stories and our growing, shared curriculum.

Over the coming year this cohort will work with PPEH to develop locally-focused climate storytelling lesson plans and live workshops. Through this collaboration, the teachers will be plugged into a network of climate educators at Penn, in the Philadelphia region, and globally through a nascent partnership with UNESCO. Together, we are building a public climate curriculum that can be used across disciplines, and we will be sharing Philadelphians’ climate stories  that students research and create in a climate storytelling festival in spring 2023 and in a companion book as well as in a series of policy briefs for decision-makers working at regional, national, and international scales.

Mariaeloisa Carambo

History teacher Mariaeloisa Carambo joins the group from Paul Robeson High School in West Philadelphia. She says, “Part of our mission at Paul Robeson High School is to educate and teach our students how to become productive citizens who know how to advocate for themselves. The My Climate Story project will extend this advocacy work by ensuring our students learn the appropriate steps in developing a keener awareness of environmental justice.”

Rebecca Yacker, Dual Enrollment Coordinator in the English and History Departments at Saul High School in Roxborough says, “Because Saul is an agricultural sciences school, I want our students & our curriculum to reflect leadership in the fight for environmental justice and sustainability. By strengthening research-based, activist-oriented learning opportunities around climate change, Saul’s students can make their voices heard as agents of change, and in the process, pave the way to create a greener, more equitable future for all. As an educator, being a part of the project means collaborating with talented, like-minded educators across Philadelphia who want to gain the tools and understandings to best support & guide students' civic engagement through project-making and curriculum development.”

Rebecca Yacker
Monica Rowley

Monica Rowley teaches English at Masterman High School in Fairmount. She explains why she applied to join the cohort: “I hope to create an intellectual and creative inquiry-driven space where my students can become better observers and recorders of their surroundings in order to guide their own research questions that lead to platforms for inspiration for action. Storytelling and engagement with our immediate surroundings are a powerful combination; my dream and hope is for my students and me to use their curiosity and passion to inspire their own learning and activism, which in turn would, ideally, inspire the entire Philadelphia community and eventually the world.”

The full group of Climate Champions include teachers from around the city’s schools:

  • Freda or Frankie Anderson, an African American History and World History teacher at Academy at Palumbo in South Philadelphia.
  • Anna Herman, an Urban Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources (AFNR) Management Educator at the U School in North Philadelphia.
  • Matthew Scanlan, an Environmental Science Teacher and Dean of Students at Northeast High School in Northeast Philadelphia.
  • Christopher Sikich, an AP Biology, Honors Biology, Biology, Anatomy and Physiology, and Environmental Science teaches at Philadelphia High School for Girls in Olney.
  • Avery Stern, a teacher of English and Climate Change studies at Kensington CAPA in Kensington.
  • Tatyana Williamson, an Intensive Learning Support (ILS) Teacher in Algebra I and English at Frankford in Northeast Philadelphia.
  • Joni Woods, who teaches English at Academy at Palumbo in South Philadelphia.

For more information, see the project website.

The Penn Program in Environmental Humanities fosters interdisciplinary environmental collaboration and scholarship at Penn, in Philly, & beyond. PPEH is a collective of scholars, students, artists, scientists, and educators whose mission is to generate local and global awareness and engagement in the emergent area of the environmental humanities.

We are storytellers, weaving the common roots of our natural heritage into an interdisciplinary narrative. We aim to be a bridge between islands, a thread among branches, a lab for reflection and action.

For additional information contact Mia D’Avanza,